All photo's are Copyright of Scott Swalling or the tagged Photographer. (Background photo Scott Swalling Photography).

About Me:

24Hr MTBike racer and general bike rider, climber and mountaineer. Good coffee drinker and cake eater (any cake, seriously, don't leave your cake laying around). Also, I like to try new things that challenge me.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Margam Madness 2014

I have heard of Margam Madness through the organiser Gareth Hayes, it is a newish 4 and 8 hour event on one of the most brutal, technical and brilliant courses I have ridden in the UK (it is a lot like racing some of the Adelaide, Mt Buller and Mt Beauty XC courses), trail riding with an XC format basically. My type of thing, although there should be a caveat there, something like the below.

"My type of thing, when I haven't spent two weeks recovering from hurling myself down a flint strewn chalk path at between 40-50kph."  But not to be one to make excuses, I put in what training/recovery I could because I was genuinely excited about these course.  It was a course for the complete rider, strong, technical, brave and fast up hill.  Something like XC use to be and again is becoming, thankfully!

So I packed the van and headed down, the day before, after sitting in some Easter traffic for a few hours I arrived, chatted to some familiar faces, did a lap to see what the course was like and sent Chris N the good news, it is brutal and technical.

 Bike prepped, big bugger hill we ascended each lap (from the left hand side)

But with the above it was also brilliant, fun and had amazing views.  The climbs where technical, loose and pain inducing.  Then you would tip over the top and head down either a sweeping twisty easy downhill track/natural trail or the infamous Black XC section (my favourite section) the section that in the race I somehow found a way passed to crashed riders and bikes. "Clive, I went for the gap, this time it was there"  :)

So race day arrived, it was sunny and I had slept very little, but hey, that has happened before, no matter.  I was in the Single Speed Cat, which would only have to riders, and I know Dave from the Gorricks. But as with everything, there is you Cat and then there is overall, I always push for good finishes in both.

So as more friends and familiar races arrived I prepared myself, stretch the known troublesome and bruised parts of my body and rolled to the start line.

Soon we were off and chaos would ensue at the first forest section, but from here things would sort themselves out and the racing was in general clean, fun and laid back, as was the feel with the whole event (this is a good thing), but that did not mean the racing wasn't fast.

I lapped consistently and in the lead for a few laps, but wasn't finding my normal power and fluidity on the climbs, so I dialed things back a touch, we had a long way to go. The race progress for another 1hr or so and I was joined by the other single speeder Dave, for a little bit.  But on the second flattest part of the course he opened a small gap, I closed this easily on the descent as he was running rigid forks (hats off to him) on the next small climb though, I could hold his wheel, in fact I had to jump off and run as I had no power to turn the pedals, but felt fine.

Over the next lap he would open a lead of about 5 minutes, but my problem wasn't getting any better of worse. As a couple of the Open guys lapped me, George Budd being the first and yelled encouragement, then would focus on taking it easy and hoping to recover, but I didn't. At the top of the hill before the Black XC trail, I stopped, chatted to the marshal and yelled encouragement at all those that passed, including Al and Chris.

Soon I duly finished my lap and knocked it on the head.  Being only two of us, I was assured a podium, but maybe not hugely proud of it.  But at least I did get out there and try.  I moved to to a support role for Chris after I had finished and cheerleader for Al, Jules and George, or was that heckler?  They can confirm which.  I also encourage Dave to keep turning that single speed as he decided to do one more lap even after I confirmed with him I was out (I am nice that way). :)

As the hours ticked by George more than confirmed 1st in Open, Chris' consistency and good riding gave him 2nd in Open, Al, cleaned up in the Vets and Jules had a solid ride (but not without its technical issues) for 4th in Vets.  I did indeed get 2nd in the 2 man Single Speed field.

 A cheeky 2nd place
(Photo: Al Fairbairn)

What an event though and as mentioned above, what an amazing course. Gareth and his team did and awesome job and I will be back next year, better prepared, rather than coming of an accident recovery, as I am guessing that is rubbish prep.

Congrats to everyone that lasted as long as they could, as the course was tough, but we all know what to expect next year, so lets train harder, work on our skills and lets hope that more XC courses follow this design.

Thanks Cycleworks, Weldtite, Wolf Tooth and Alpkit

Margam Madness 2015, get yourself there.

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