2 weeks ago I spent the weekend in sunny Wales.... and yes it actually was sunny! Since then I've been super super busy doing grown up things (as well as bike riding!) but have finally managed to knock together a report for the Black Mountains 3 day stage race.
The black mountains 3 day is a new race for the calender this year and is based around Talybont near to brecon. I know the roads around there well from my time at uni in Cardiff and from road racing around the area. I had never ridden around the area off road though so was looking forward to finding some great new trails.
The race started on friday evening with a short 15km time trial which consisted of 2 laps of a circuit. The first half of the circuit climbed up before a tough traverse and then an awesome single track descent back to the start. Before the start I wasn't really that enthusiastic about the race. Time trials are not my favourite discipline, you just know that they're going to hurt! Once I got going though I felt pretty good and pushed on as hard as I could. I felt strong up the climb and then pushed on harder on the flatter top section as I knew this is where I could make the most of my power. However disaster struck on the descent. I managed to rip the side wall of the front tyre... race over!
I repaired the tyre and cruised the second lap but was very frustrated that any chance at the overall win had now gone with in the first 10minutes. At least my team mate Ben won.
The second day dawned and the sun was still out and I was primed with Torq gels ready for the 2nd stage. This stage was set to be 60km with plenty of big (for the UK!) climbs. I was keen to see how I'd fair on the climbs after the Austrian trip a month before. I definitely have the power (the power meter told me so!), but was also carrying a bit more weight due to the mid season break beers (by over weight I mean that I cant see the ribs in my chest anymore!).
As we hit the first climb of the day Ben attacked. I know that I cant go into the red for too long so had to ride my own tempo and hope I could reel him in later in the day. After the initial attack the gap between us remained the same so I pushed on hoping to close it down. It turns out that I was pushing on a bit too hard though. I had my head down riding hard and completely missed a course marker arrow about 30minutes into the stage. It took another 10minutes of flat out pedalling before I realised and had to turn back. It was a stupid mistake and all my fault. The result was I lost a chunk of time and any chance of a descent stage result. The route was amazing though, a real back country race ride with loads of amazing trails which certainly made up for my stupidity.
Coming into the final day I was determined to not screw up again! Once again the sun was out and the tan lines become more horrific by the second. Off the start a small group of us broke away containing myself , Ben and Scott Cornish. We rode together for the first few km's before Ben decided that we were bad company and buggered of again! Myself and Scott rode together for about half the stage before I had a sudden energy drop and had to back off and neck 3 gels in 15minutes to prevent a major implosion! I recovered and chased hard at the end but to no avail. I finished 3 minutes down on Ben in third place.
Overall racing wise I had a pretty disappointing weekend. A bit of bad luck and loads of cockups on my part were to blame. The experiance was great though. Good camping, good weather, good company and awesome trails.
I do have some video to post but I've managed to break my laptop at the moment so it will have to wait for a few days!
Next on the agenda is another 24hour solo, this time at Twentyfour12 in Plymouth next weekend. Hopefully I can keep it together, not crash, not blow finish strong and bag a win! Watch this space...