CRC MTB Marathon, Abergavenny

Fortunately my knee issues didn’t seem to affect my cycling so I was able to complete the CRC MTB Marathon on Saturday and we had a good weekend camping in Abergavenny. We drove down on Friday immediately after work. We were meeting with Jay, Brad and Mel all of whom were also riding. Morgan was excited about a weekend away camping and the chance to see Meg and Harry his cousins (who came with Jay) and also his friend George who came with Mel (along with his sister Lucy).

We soon had our tent set up. Unfortunately one of the poles split as we were putting it up but it did seem to be standing OK so it wasn’t a problem. We signed on, had some free pasta and some cider at the pasta party and then chilled for he evening. I was still hobbling around but was fairly certain that I’d be able to ride tomorrow. Once Jay had his tent up we discovered that Brad wouldn’t arrive until Saturday morning so we went and got his free meal as well – so I had a second dinner. Mmmm, chilli con carne this time along with some cake of course.

It poured with rain much of the night but it was cloudy and dry in the morning and we all got ready to ride. There were three different length rides on offer, a short 30km ride which Brad opted for, a longer 50km ride which Jay, Mel and myself opted for and the longer 80km ride. We opted not to do the 80km ride as we were riding in the Vitus Sportive tomorrow as well.

The ride started with a few miles behind a lead car along the road, then climbed up into the hills. There was actually quite a bit more on the road than I had expected, but it was nice to be riding in a big group of people and as always they were friendly, polite and all having a good day out. After some fire-road climbing we got onto some single track and a nice climb out onto the moorland. The sandy soil wreaked havoc with brakes, jockey wheels, gears and other bits of bike but the scenery at times was breath-taking. I soon left Jay, Brad and Mel behind and ended up out there on my own. I slowed down to chat to people as I overtook them and had a nice easy ride without really putting in too much effort.

I stopped at the first feed station, topped up my camelbak, ate a banana and some biscuits and then continued on. The descents weren’t too bad, nothing too technical, just one steep rutted grassy descent and one bit of steep single track with a few steps and switchbacks. Then, before I knew it I was at the second feed station so stopped for some more re-fuelling. From here though it was just a quick descent along a road and back to the finish line. Had I known this I wouldn’t have stopped at the second feed station as I didn’t actually use any of the energy drink I’d taken on board.

Across the finish line after what I assume was 50km of MTBing in about 3 hours – My Garmin GPS is off for repair so I have no idea how far it actually was or how long it took – but I soon discovered that Brad, who had done the shorter route, had just finished a minute or so before me. Had I known that I would have tried to catch him! I got my finishers ‘T’-shirt had a hot dog and headed off for a shower before eating some more and waiting for the others to return. Mel was next in after just over 4 hours and then Jay rolled in at around 4:30.

Everyone seemed to have enjoyed themselves out there. Mel had struggled a little on the more technical bits but was pleased to have made it around. Jay didn’t enjoy the climbs but had fun out there too. More impressive though was a 7 year old who did the 30km route and a 9 year old who did the 50km route in a pretty decent time.

There was a band on in the main marquee in the evening and plenty of food for sale from the cafe. There was a big screen with the olympics showing as well so people were well entertained and as is always the case at these events the atmosphere was great. The riding is always good, but the weekend of camping in a nice atmosphere is what really makes it. The evening was spent sitting around chatting and chilling and thinking about the Vitus Sportive that we were all doing tomorrow.

I’ve hopefully got some GoPro footage of the MTB riding so will go through that later in the week once I have my computer, but for now here are a couple of photos from the campsite.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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