Monday, 7 May 2012

The Border Raid

With Ali wanting to have another go at the Kielder100 in September I thought The Border Raid in Kielder would be an ideal training event. It's about 55km and heads over the border to Newcastleton and back. It would also be Ali's first race on her new bike. First hurdle was getting here and I managed to wash the bikes and pack most of my clothes Thursday night, there still seemed to be a lot fo faffing on the Friday before we left though. (Friday I hadn't been feeling great anyway and struggled through the day). But we did eventually get in the car and head to Kielder, at this point I was unsure if I would even start the race.

Once here Ali asked me my race plan, a brief pause to think about it I replied "I guess when they say Go, I'll probably just Go". A nice sophisicated plan then.

Morning of the race, up, dressed, breakfast and very Anxious. Still sorted tools etc, camelbaks full of water (you had to carry enough water for the race), then sign-on. Back to the hostel to drop down jackets, up to the start....we were the only ones there so back to sign-on and back to the start to waste some time. We even rode the first bit of the route, which suprisingly was some off-piste singletrack and a little tricky.

Lining up I chatted to a few folks from 24solo, then after a race briefing a man said Go, so I went. Took me a little while to get past Ali who had a fab start and then it was into the singletrack. I managed to ride over all the roots, I have a bad habit of stopping because I am scared. At this point I was first female, not for long though as Julie came alongside me chatted for a while and then pushed on. I could keep her in sight but she was stronger than me uphill and looking good on the downs. I did then pass her again as she had a chain issue but she soon re-passed me. At some point a girl in blue flew past me on a hill as if I was standing still!

We went the opposite way over to Newcastleton than the Kielder100 and all my other rides up here. It was great to ride it a different way and the usual long slog of a fireroad was a stick it in big ring and pedal hard downhill.  Riding down I was thinking my bike was throwing up a lot of gravel, then I realised that it was snow/hail, fortunately it didn't last long as I had decided to just carry a showerproof and not a waterproof. As I started climbing again I thought I heard a shout and looked round, decided I was being silly (it sounded like Ali) and carried on, it was only later I found out it had been Ali so she was pretty close behind me at that point.

Once on the trails at Newcastleton I was having fun, shame we did so little over there. Unfortunately I knew the climb back would be tough but just as I started I saw a flash of blue in the distance, just the motivation I needed. Staying in middle ring I pushed hard up the hill, at the start catching her but by the top no sign. Still I kept pushing and on another climb saw her again. I reeled her in and we got into a downhill section of singletrack, pushing I caught her and she sportingly let me past. I knew she was a better climber than me so on the last hill past the observartory I sprinted, into the final singletrack there was no sign but I kept pushing, found out later I had finished a minute ahead.

Back for a quick shower and just as I was heading to the finish to meet Ali she rode up to the hostel, she had finished 18mins behind me. My time was 3:16 which since I was aiming for sub 4hrs I was chuffed with. Although I was 2nd female as Julie is a vet I won my category, Ali finished 3rd. Not bad for someone who wasn't going to race. I enjoyed it and certainly pushed hard. I only used gels and water and it seemed to work. After we finished we got a nice meal as well, a highly recommended event.

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