It was on, at last a serious fast attempt at the BB200. For 3 years this has been entered and life had got in the way. This time I only had a late night Go-karting and a subsequent broken rib from slamming into a tyre wall to deal with, so, easy then!
Going for a long distance all night ride option called for the comfort and fun factor offered by the Anthem. Running the dynamo hub meant losing the through axle fork adding a bit of weight, but once again I was reminded how much plusher Fox forks are over RockShox for small bumps.
28 ring on the crank drew many comments as it does look comical, but it’s ideal for Welsh drags, and gravity does the rest when you can hammer over the lumpy stuff. 20mph for 28-11 at 90 rpm is plenty fast enough for tired legs on road.
Gear wise it was a case of moonlight bivy and Rab sleeper up front with waterproofs and a spare merino top. The frame bag was stuffed with food and spares, and a bar mounted feedbag had the caffeine boost gels and recovery bars needed for a long session.
Driving for 3 hours and being loaded on Pain killers is not ideal prep, but as we winched up the first muddy climb I felt surprisingly good.
It was great to once again be here in a mass start epic event, the camaraderie of all the riders facing the unexpected route and challenge.
Without getting carried away it was comfortable to hang in the top 6 or so riders, loving the extra traction full suss gives you. Friends Ian and Dave passed and moved ahead it I was happy just keeping them in view, then pop. A rocky wet track hid a sharp rock overhang and the sidewall of the Rocket Ron was spurting Latex. With all the effort taken to just be here, the mental deflation was huge.
Faffing with a repair, then that inevitably of getting messy and add a tube. Rider after rider passed and offered help or sympathy and said Hi as I casually made a duct tape repair. Pressure was off now my head was already defeated and I knew then there would be no night riding today, the pain of just pumping in air called for the 2nd last dose of pain killers allowed in 24 hrs.
Once fixed I had a fantastic ride, passing riders by the bucket load and finding a beauty of a technical long climb created quite a high as the sun came out too. A proper rock step fest was just the tonic, plenty of body shapes and power surges, passing pushing riders, get in. A great find that I want to return too.
The next climb was about 1000 feet of quiet road, and again I loved it, then onto familiar tracks towards Barmouth Bay I caught and passed Dave. At this point I appeared to have clawed back up to the fast boys much to my surprise, hammering down to the Estuary crossing it then started to rain.
At Barmouth maps were checked, from here the route went up and over dropping into Coed-y-Brenin forest. From years of trying to ride from that MTB meca to the beach I know there is no rideable route. As Dave re-passed shouted “shop up here” the towel had already been thrown. Seeing two bikes outside a cafe, it was chill out coffee time before tracking back to base. Inside were two old compatriots I’d previously finished just behind after 30 hours in the Cairngorm’s loop.
Chatting with them confirmed I was doing OK, but with over 12 hours to go and who knows how much unrideable slogging it was the right choice.
Even the trip back was entertaining, the rear tyre exploded on a road hill, the tube popped out of a full width cut. A last ditch tape and energy wrapper repair and no spares left, eased my doubts about quitting. On returning to base in the dropping cold and mist, I reflected that it was going to be a tough night out there for the others.
Any doubts, none. I will let Dave Barter in his own inimitable style explain why (and I get a few seconds of fame at the start)