Exposure Lights Big Night Out
To say we were excited about this event was an understatement. The first night time enduro to be hosted anywhere in the UK, and probably the world, to kick of the Merida 2005 Marathon series in spectacular style. Over 200 people brimming with anticipation and a dash of trepidation switched on over 5000 watts of combined hid, halogen and led lights as we crossed the start line at 7.30pm on Saturday evening.
Following the pace car through the town of Builth Wells gave our legs an opportunity to warm-up, before the pack peeled of the road and onto a gravely fireroad. All was going well, legs nicely warmed up and core temperature comfortable: until the track pointed straight up a huge hill, and the previously comfortable temperature went through the roof and the silence was broken by the sound of groaning legs and panic stricken gear changes.
Grassy moorland made up the majority of the 45km route, but some tarmac and fireroad broke up the relentless struggle against the soft grass. A constant headwind, and towards the end of the ride rain, added to the already tough challenge.
All this struggling and preserving was almost forgotten when the wide double track was upgraded, in a sense, to bar-twanging narrow singletrack. This came as a complete surprise to many people who have ridden at Builth Wells in the past, but was a welcome diversion from the mind-numbing moorland tracks.
The good times had to end though, and a long stretch of tarmac brought us back into Builth Wells, where hot showers; tea, cakes and burgers were waiting for us. Sanctuary! The fast guys, like Nick Craig and Oli Beckingsale, blitzed the course in less than two hours, but I was more than happy finishing a shade over two and half hours.
I certainly didn’t have to worry about my lights running out: like 100 hundred other lucky riders I borrowed an Exposure light, which was easily up to the task of lighting up the Welsh mountain side.
Spring Marathon – Round One
For the eager, brave or stupid, Sunday’s 75km marathon was a chance to see whether all that winter training had paid of – you did train didn’t you? If, like me you didn’t, then you would have been happy to watch over 700 riders hustle out of the campsite, then retire to the marquee for some breakfast.
The weather though was better than the night before: the sunshine slowly increased and the thermometers mercury moved up a few places. This would have made tackling the tough course less daunting; the extra hills and moorland traversing added to the length wouldn’t have been easy.
If you missed this event, or are keen for more, the next stop on the Merida 100 2005 tour is Rhayader, on the weekend of 28-29th May. This will be the usual 100km, with a 50km half route available.
Visit the MTB-Marathon website for more information and entry forms (you can enter online)