Black Mountains 3-Day

Last weekend saw the launch of the inaugural TORQ-sponsored “Black Mountains 3-Day” event hosted by event organising newcomers ‘Bearded Man’ and boy was this an event worth waiting for?

The weekend consisted of an off-road time trial on the Friday night, followed by a 65Km off road point-to-point (with 45-minute morning coach transfer) on the Saturday and was concluded with another 65Km off road loop that started and finished in the main event village. Bearded Man’s plan was to host a ‘mini Cape Epic’ and offer a tented village with all-inclusive feeding so that all the competitors had to do was turn up with their cycling kit and not have to worry about anything else.

I personally competed in the event and although I’ve ridden in the Black Mountains quite a few times, the course took us on a route that I could never have conceived and lead me down bridleways and across stunning moorland that I’d never seen before. If you add to this the incredible summer sunshine to this wonderful experience and faultless course-marking and organisation, you’ve got what I’d say is about the best weekend I’ve had on my Mountain Bike for years.

The Friday evening Time Trial was a short affair involving a timed 2-laps of a short cross country course. Short doesn’t mean easy, because by the time I’d finished my 2 laps, I was knackered! TORQ’s Ben Thomas got the fastest time by about 2 minutes (around the 28 minute mark), I was 4th with a time of 32 minutes after breaking my bike on the first attempt and TORQ’s Josh Ibbett was hot on my heals after he’d punctured in 5th. TORQ’s Lydia Gould claimed 2nd spot in the women’s cat behind Fi Spotwood.

Day 2 was epic and although I was only riding for about 3.5 hours (Ben Thomas, the stage winner was out for a shade over 3 hours), it felt like so much longer. There were a couple of tough ‘hike-a-bike’ sections, but the only way to possibly describe the ride as a whole was ‘magical’. Even the long climb out of the feed station was a huge experience enclosed within imposing valley sides. Josh Ibbett could’ve done with a Sat Nav, because he only finished a couple of minutes ahead of me in 4th place, but could’ve done so much better if he’d gone the right way! I came home back to base camp in 5th and Lydia was once again 2nd female rider back after Fi. To be fair to Lydia, she is approximately double Fi’s age. To be fair to Fi, Lydia usually makes mincemeat of her younger competitors on a regular basis, so it was a great ride by her.

Day 3 was a circular loop that took us from the event village around the Brecon Beacons and finished with the gnarly descent from the famous ‘Gap’. Again this was a beautiful ride, but my personal opinion was that the previous day was better by a few percent. The best parts of Day 3 matched those of Day 2, but there was so much more of it (and less fire road) on Day 2. That said, it’s a bit like choosing between Dairy Milk and Galaxy not a huge amount in it.

Once gain Ben Thomas won the 3rd stage in just shy of 3 hours. Josh didn’t go the wrong way this time and got home in 3rd. I was 7th and beaten by a couple of very fast singlespeeders, but I did have a puncture to contend with and a serious deficiency in puncture-mending skill! Lydia once again was 2nd in the female cat.

Overall, Ben Thomas won outright, Josh Ibbet managed to claw back to 3rd in the under 30’s, I was 3rd in the 30-40 age group and Lydia was 2nd in the women’s cat.

What a fab weekend and we’ll definitely be back next year. Can’t wait.

Photographs: – Frames – Drivetrain & Brakes  – Helmets – Handlebars, Stems, Saddles, Seatposts & Grips – Team PR – Tyres – Performance Cycle Clothing – Fox Suspension Forks – Advanced Lighting – Lubrication – Shoes – Cables & Housing – Pedals, Multi tools & pumps – Neoguards. – KCNC Chains, Skewers & Bottom Brackets – Hubs, Seat Clamps & Headsets – Spokes – Hand Built Wheels – Brake Hardware – Photography – Power Measurement, Turbo Training & Bike Racks – Tyre Sealant & Rims. – Nomad Cordless Pressure Washing – Bike Maintenance & Servicing

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