The Manx100 for those who don’t know is a 100miles mtb race on the Isle of Man (or 100km option available). In its second year organisers the Manx mtb club headed up by Nigel bring an enthusiasm for putting on an event like I’ve never come across before. This resulted in one of the best and toughest endurance races out there, the profile says it all!
In its first year the fastest time was 11hrs + but some course changes and good weather meant sub 10 was definitely achievable, particularly with race favourite Rich Rothwell in the starting blocks. A brave pack of 22 lined up at the northern tip the island, the Point of Ayre with the prospect of 15,000 feet of climbing (and descending…) in front of them to get to the southern most point.
I could go in to a LOT of detail about the route but there are just too many epic features and sections to cover/remember, nevertheless names such as ‘The Dowse’ and ‘Mansells hill’ will in time become known and revered by many I’m sure who take on this beast. A look at the route profile tells the story, straight up, straight down with little respite in between, tough! Think Lake District steep and rocky ascents/descent mixed in with classic wide open, rutted and technical moorland tracks of the Yorkshire Dales. I’m ashamed to say but the odd road section provided a bit of light relief! This course was RELENTLESS, it was NOT a Kielder100 fire road misery session!
The route was signed but this is no hand holding health and safety fest, its made very clear that riders are responsible for themselves which adds to the sense of adventure (but fine even if you don’t fancy yourself as an orienteer like me). GPS is recommended (essential I think) and maps with route descriptions are to be kept in back pockets. Despite signage you need to be sharp to ensure no wrong turns are taken, all part of the challenge.
As for the race itself, Rich led from the off and despite his traditional navigational error still took home the win with a healthy margin. After a decent start and emerging 2nd after the first major up/down I was eventually caught by the experienced and mountain goat like locals including last years winner Julian. Knowing the trails and route was definitely an advantage as I seemed to end up in pedal deep ruts whilst others found routes around. I’d like to say that was my excuse for getting a good schooling by people twice my age but some very quick technical climbing ability put me in my place at the end of the day, fair play to them.
I ended up 4th after some navigational and tubeless/puncture issues but don’t think these held me up too much and on reflection was probably relieved to catch my breath for a minute during these. Riding on my own for 7 hours was quite mentally tough and the sight of the bag drop areas to refuel were welcome civilization.
I can’t emphasise how much time, passion, enthusiasm and love for the sport of mountain biking has gone in to putting this thing together which is 100% reflected in an epic event that I can thoroughly recommend. Its totally refreshing to see people who are in it for the kicks of seeing other people enjoy as their main aim. Particularly big shout to Nigel who helped with everything travel/accommodation etc throughout. Thanks also to Andy at Inglewood Hotel http://www.inglewoodhotel-isleofman.com/ for sorting us out with transport whilst there.
Next year will be bigger I am sure, and just a footnote, don’t be put off by ferry prices, you don’t need a car and foot passenger with bike is £40 with helpful locals on hand to advise on the most important logistics like a good curry house recommendation!
Note to self, must ride hills faster next time!