For anyone who rode at the Mountain Mayhem, last Sundays (26th June) British MTB Series race at Margam Park saw familiar conditions. Wet, cold…hot, dry. We arrived on the Saturday with the intention of pre-riding, but day long drizzle washed away all enthusiasm. Sunday saw the temperature rise from 18 to over 30 degs – hot, hot, hot! I went for a bit of a pedal around the course – a combination of hard climbs, muddy chutes and generally pretty tough. Add the sudden heatwave into the mix and it looked set to be pretty damn hard work. Think Mayhem on steroids. In an oven. Or a woollen suit. Or a bear outfit if you’re that way inclined.
The Elite race showed just how hard with riders coming past in ones and twos, big gaps in between and plenty of dnf’s. Nice of them to ride round and dry the course out for me in the Masters race later though. The day didn’t go so well for some of my mates. Dave “The Baylord” Collins (Hope) got hit from behind, crashed and flatted out on the 1st lap in Elite. Ryan “The Ryminister” Henry looked pretty comfortable at the front of the Experts race until he overtook the leader and found a small rock. The pic says it all. Wayne “Hercules” Bennet, oddly in Sport, sacked it off half way round as “it was so hot I started shivering”.
Ironically pedalling around the Mayhem in a suit must have helped me adapt to the insanely hot conditions. I can’t remember ever riding along thinking how hot my fingers are but this thought played on my mind up the main climb every lap. There was a new twist on the descent from the 2nd lap onwards having to dodge a fallen rider. I can joke now (knowing he’s ok) but it looked pretty serious at the time, well he was lying there for 2hrs before being airlifted to hospital. Doubt he did that just for fun.
Self-preservation seemed to be the order of the day, so I went for a steady-ish start, catching the leader at the top of the 1st climb and staying with him on the way down and through the arena on the 1st lap. I went in front to help spot a line through the off-camber bit (I was off and clambering anyway), saw id got a gap and so upped the pace.
Thrillingly, this is how it stayed for the next 2 laps until the end of the race, so another win and another glorious podium presentation.
There’s a report here: http://www.britishcycling.org.uk/mtb .Click on British XC – then click on the pic of me feeling the burn.