Last year’s round in Rhayader was rather badly affected by the ‘European Monsoon’ with heavy rain during the weeks leading up to the event and no drying sunshine to improve matters. Despite the weather lots of riders made their way to the event and fought their battle with the rather extreme conditions. For the 2007 season the Rhayader marathon was replaced by the Penrith round which was held within the first ever Cumbria Bikefest.
The week leading up to the event was not really blessed with good weather so that the venue looked already a little bit on the muddy side when the riders arrived on Friday and Saturday. Luckily though after some showers on Saturday and during the night from Saturday to Sunday the weather started to settle a bit and the riders had a more or less dry day on the bikes. Almost 1300 lined up on Sunday morning to tackle one of the four rather tough courses the area around Penrith had to offer. Going by the feedback we have had on the day and since he have returned the opinions on the course are rather divided and vary between ‘excellent – a real challenge’ to ‘far to tough for a marathon’.
Here a few words from our course designer Chris Ford from CycleActive:
It was great to hear so many riders praising the incredible views, the fast, sweeping descent off Loadpot and the long rocky trail to Howtown. We expected the tough climbs and rocky descents to push people – you needed technical climbing skills and good bike handling skills to get through these cleanly and that was part of the challenge of this event. We did make sure that the hardest sections were on the longer distances, increasing the challenge level for those with better fitness and hopefully a higher level of skill.
A great many riders did get through these sections on two wheels, not just the leaders but some who adapted to the technical rather than purely physical demands of this unique event.
Was it too tough? That’s a hard question to answer and one we can only look at when we’ve seen a lot more feedback. We certainly wanted to make this different from other marathons. Have we shown people terrain that can be ridden, even on a short travel hardtail, but that they cannot ride yet? Should we tone it down in future? Or is this a chance for people to say “my bike can do this, other riders can do this, so I need to learn how to do this too.”
Besides the ride which will certainly stay in people’s mind, the rest of the festival was filled with lots of riding displays, trade and food stands, a massive music/beer tent and an almost endless list or off site riding activities. There are already quite a few plans in the pipeline for 2008 with better facilities, more onsite activities (riding and non-riding) and a more rider friendly course for the marathon.
Photos and website updates
Once again Jon Brooke was out taking pics on the course. Pics of (nearly) every rider – searchable by rider number are available from http://sleepmonsters.co.uk/photoshop.php. Jon took lots and lots of images so have a look and see if you can find yourself on there. We have also made some further updates to the www.mtb-marathon.co.uk site, keep an eye on the news in the top left hand corner.
Now with the Penrith being over and done with our attention goes towards the Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland and the ‘Outside’ event in Aviemore.
Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland
The Chain Reaction Cycles TransScotland will kick off on the 26th May in Selkirk and roam through the Borders area before it finishes in Selkirk on the 2nd June. There are still a few places left for all the late deciders out there. So if you are up for this great challenge simply download an entry form from the event website www.mtbtransuk.co.uk and send it through to us. If you have already entered make sure that you check the site a few days before you head to Selkirk to catch up on the latest updates.
It is just under six weeks before we head to Aviemore to run our marathon from within ‘The Outsider’ festival. There are still places left in case you haven’t entered yet. So if you are into music, comedy, the outdoors and into riding your bike in one of the most beautiful areas the UK has to offer than this event is for you. Check out the latest on the line-up on http://www.outsiderfestival.co.uk/. To find out more about the Aviemore marathon go to http://www.mtb-marathon.co.uk/events/aviemore.php or go directly to the entry page http://www.mtb-marathon.co.uk/entry_forms/entry_forms.php to secure your entry for this great ride.