Mawddach Goldrush 2010 – Race Report
March 7th 2010, Mawddach Goldrush day. The first MTB event of the year for me.
Last year I did it as part of a 3 man team so only did one lap but this year I had decided I ‘should’ be able to do it solo and do all three laps on my own. The weather was gorgeous, blue skies, cool and little wind. I drove up to Coed y Brenin bright and early, registered, had a coffee in the Visitor Centre with Andy, James and the Martyn and then we headed off to get ready.
After the usual indecision about what to wear Martyn and I headed across to the start area. Martyn managed to get a puncture on the way there so we stopped to fix that and while I was waiting for him to do that I realised I had forgotten to put my timing chip on, so I had to make a quick dash back to the visitor centre, up the hill to the car and then all the back across to the start line. At least I was warmed up I suppose.
Martyn was waiting when I got back to the start line so we set off straight away. Martyn went off ahead of me and I followed him up the first climb. I half expected to see him head off into the distance, but we were both taking it easy and I kept up with him. The first little bit of singletrack downhill felt nice and again I kept up with Martyn. We then had a fire-road climb and Martyn pulled out a little lead over me. The route-markings weren’t that clear much of the time and there didn’t seem to be many marshalls around either so we weren’t entirely sure we were on the right track all the time, and on one corner on the fireroad Martyn carried straight on as there were no signs or marshalls, only to get a few yards down the track and be told it was the wrong way. I managed to avoid this mistake as I saw it happening in front of me and caught Martyn back up.
The course then headed uphill along a long fireroad climb. I stayed with Martyn for a bit but as I got warmed up and into a nice rhythm I left him behind me and continued on my way. At the top of the climb the route took us through the section known as ‘Heart of Darkness’ – which I have never liked, down the fireroad and then into ‘Snap, Crackle and Pop’. I was descending well, my bike felt good and I overtook quite a few people through these sections. We then climb back up to a section known as ‘Al’s Loop’ which felt fine, before going across the top on fireroads and down the descent known as ‘Rocky Horror Show’. I was flying on this descent, in my big gear and sprinting between the corners, then drifting on the loose gravel, jumping off the little rises and having a great time.
The next little climb felt OK, even though it was icey in a few places and then it was just a matter of a fireroad descent and then into the rocky sections of ‘Mantrap’, ‘Pins and Needles’ and the final berms into the start/finish arena. Again, the sign-posting in Pins and Needles wasn’t great and the course not very clear so I overshot a corner at one point, but I was feeling good and still riding fast.
Lap 1 completed in a time of 1hr 4 mins and onto lap 2. The lap was slightly different this time as we also had to do the section known as ‘R74’ in reverse which is a bit of a singletrack climb. I was still feeling good and overtook quite a few people along here, although on the long fireroad climb afterwards I was overtaken myself by the two leaders who were now on their 3rd lap (They had started before me though!).
Heart of Darkness which I never enjoy wasn’t much fun though as I came off on one of the rocky bends. No damage done though so I continued on my way. The sign-posting caught me out again on the climb to Al’s loop. A sign had fallen over and exposed a different sign pointing off to the right. I knew it was wrong but followed it anyway for a hundred yards or so before realising the error of my ways and returning to the proper course. I didn’t loose much time, probably 30 to 1 minute, but the sign-posting and marshalling really wasn’t very good.
By the time I got to Al’s loop which was about the 15 mile point I was beginning to slow down and start feeling it. I guess my normal rides are around 10-15 miles in length, so it was time for the extra distance to make itself felt. I was still OK though and it was mainly downhill from here to the start finish line and once again I was sprinting along the fireroad at the top and flying down the descents.
As I came into the finish area Matt Page overtook me to finish his 3rd and final lap and pulled off to the side just as I was starting my 3rd lap. I was now beginning to suffer and part of me wished I was in he position, but I wasn’t so I continued on my way. Lap two done in a time of 1 hr 13.
As I started the first climb, my legs started to cramp up a little. I could feel my inner thighs just about to cramp on every pedal revolution as if they were getting strange little electric shocks every time I pedalled. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they cramped up completely but pushed on through the pain.
R74 was hard work, but I did catch and overtake a few people on it, so although I was suffering, I figured everyone else was too. I hoped Martyn was as well, as the last thing I needed at the moment was for him to go sailing past me! At the bottom of the long climb I caught up with some guy and had a bit of a chat. he said he was feeling good, I was feeling terrible but we were climbing at the same pace. He did pull away from me at the very top into Heart of Darkness, which I took really cautiously anyway. I manged to catch him (and quite a few others) up on Snap Crackle and Pop though and pulled away from them all on the climb up to Al’s loop.
It was really hurting now. The twinges of cramp were non-stop and there was no power left. Everytime I had to put in a little extra effort to get up over a little rock or something my legs were in agony and I was just thinking about getting to the top and coasting home. If the terrain pointed upwards at all I was grabbing the granny ring just to keep my legs spinning and my bike moving forwards. If my legs had stopped I would never have got them going again. No sprinting on the descents this time, just keep it going to the end.
As I turned into Mantrap there is a little rock that needs some effort to get up over. As I tired to put down the power, my legs cramped up completely. The quad in my left leg locked out so I couldn’t bend that leg and my hamstring in my right leg cramped up meaning I couldn’t straighten that one. I just about managed to get off the bike but couldn’t move and had to stand there for a while trying to get my legs back into motion.
Eventually I got back on and the next few pedal revolutions were agony, but there was only about a mile and half to go and it was all down hill. I wasn’t going to stop now. My legs never really got going again but I managed to cross the line and after a rest waiting for Martyn to some in even managed to ride all the way back to the car.
My 3rd lap was done in a time of 1 hr 20, for a total time of 3hrs 37. I was pleased with that as I was expecting to be over 4 hours. Martyn came in at around the 4 hour mark, so I was pretty surprised to have beaten him as well.
The weather stayed perfect, I was pleased with my performance, although I do need to do some longer rides so that I’m used to the distance and I had a good day out. The course was tough, the organisation could have been better and with only 140 entrants I felt as though I was riding on my own much of the time.
Here’s a graph of the terrain and my heart rate.
Here are the stats from my GPS:
- Total Distance: 28.16 miles
- Total Climb: 5,142 feet
- Total Time: 3:37:54
- Average Speed: 7.8 mph
- Max Speed: 25.1 mph
- Average Heart Rate: 157 bpm
- Max Heart Rate: 172 bpm
Ouch!!! – Next up is the Dyfi Enduro.