Making the most of free time in between family and other non bike related life events I’m discovering is an essential part of work/racing/training/life balance. On that theme I spotted an event over in the Chilterns right by Oxford where I was going for a family party. An early morning departure from Bristol got me over the in time for the 9am start of the Trail Break Chiltern Ridge 65k. I hadn’t ridden in the Chilterns before so thought this would be a good chance to sneak in a few hours in new surroundings before family duties later in the day.
Trail Break organise lots of great value days out whether you’re in it for smelling the air and taking in the scenery or getting your head down and tasting pain (the latter not being actively encouraged mind). With three distances offered and feed stations along the route which was well marked and detailed on a really good quality print out, anyone could rock up and have a good day out at these things. Although not races the excellent signage means it’s easy enough to crack on if you want to. I was in the cracking on category, keen to get some hard miles in to offset any beering later in the day.
A very relaxed start with people filtering over the timing matt led us straight on the trails from the back end of the school in Risborough which was event HQ for the day. The trails were a mix of field margins, bridleways through woods and lots of linking road sections. A few sharp ups and downs mixed in kept things interesting but unfortunately a deluge the day before coupled with lots of horse riders meant some of the trails were served up choppy. Still, this was proper old school mountain biking before the days of trail centres. Perhaps a new craze will start up akin to this new ‘gravel’ riding thing doing the rounds, perhaps it could be called ‘mountain biking’. People will turn up and ride their bikes mostly off road with linking road sections, most just enjoying the downs but a sick few enjoying the climbs as well….etc etc
Anyway, being a keeno I was one of the first to set off and put my head down and basically didn’t see any other riders until catching up with the middle distance riders towards the last few miles. I spent about 15mins faffing with a tubeless deflation realising I had packed some crap bendy cheapo tyre levers that couldn’t get the tyre off to put a tube in (lesson learned). I eventually got it up…but had stop a few times to top up with the mini pump and nurse it down the fun fast and flowing descents. With all the road linking sections the average speed was pretty quick and minus the faff I clocked about 13mph average over the 65k route and was first rider back for the 65k. Here’s the ride:
A quick refuel with an excellent chilli pastie in the school canteen then it was off to Oxford. It was my Uncle’s 60th who also happens to run a Le Mans 24hour racing team. Funny how things work out as I looked at their racing machine next to mine considering how odd it was that different family members both ended up in 24hour sports. Le Mans racers clearly cheat though having 3 drivers and a garage full of mechanics, a bit different to my husband/wife team! Talking with my cousin the team manager quickly revealed there is a lot of similarities in how the 24hour races unfold between motorsport and cycle sport. Probably some learning to be had between the two.
After a good refuel with a few of the local ales in the evening the next day was time to get home. I had decided to ride the 70miles back to get some good endurance riding tired miles in. I only had my mountain bike from the day before so ended up hunched over time trial style in to the headwind for the afternoon. The legs felt good though with the time flying by and I was back in time for sunday night fish and chips. It’s the best race of the year next weekend, the Dyfi Enduro so looking forward to that one.