With all the rounds of the Midlands XC Series, National XC Series and a Scott Marathon, May was a very busy month for the team. For Round 2, the Scott Marathon headed to the Welsh Town of Rhayader with a stunning backdrop of the Elan Valley and surrounding hills for another great weekend of riding.
With Scott, Hope Technology and TORQ all sponsoring the series this year, a number of both the UK’s and World’s top Cross Country and Marathon Racers lined up on the start line, alongside riders who were out for their first ever event. Although not technically a race, the calibre of riders made the pace at the front of the 75k (full marathon), rather hot – with many putting in some big efforts. TORQ had 4 riders in attendance, including: Alex Welburn, Chris Andrews, Carla Haines and Jo Clay. Here’s how they go on from their own perspectives.
Alex Welburn – With a slight cold lurking in the background and hayfever in full swing, I was looking forward to some of Wales’s finest trails – albeit not feeling 100%; On the Sunday morning at 10:00, we rolled out for the first 5/6km behind the truck before it pulled away on the first climb. As the pace at the front sped up, the field began to spread out, I tucked in near the front of the lead group, and stayed there for a large proportion of the time, the pace was pretty furious at points, with some of the younger Junior riders putting the power down on the climbs at only the half way point.
The lead group was gradually whittled down to around 6 riders. In the remaining 15km however (shortly before the last climb), I suffered a rear puncture – which put a nice slit on the top of my tread and wouldn’t seal; I was forced to stop and lost around 5-6 minutes putting a tube in the rear. I got back on, but there wasn’t enough time to catch back up, as it would take a lot of effort and time to chase back 5-6 minutes. I was still around the 7th rider back, despite losing a fair amount of time fixing the puncture. A thoroughly enjoyable ride and very decent training session!
Chris Andrews – I opted for the longer 75 km route, as it would make for a great training session. Unfortunately, like Alex, after 20 km on a long downhill, I tore a hole in my tyre. I swiftly put the new tube in, but the lead group had gone and I was left to ride the rest of the route on my own. I kept the pace high and finished the event in just under 3 hours 30 minutes. A great day’s riding on a very demanding but enjoyable route!
Carla Haines – After spending a week in Elan Valley (in between the National XC at Fforest Fields and Scott marathon), my batteries felt recharged. I decided to ride the 75km distance, in preparation for Trans Pyrenees at the end of June. The weather was perfect for it; in fact much better than anticipated. With a longer distance, I began the first 30 minutes warming up at an easy pace. I felt pretty smooth on the climbs and really enjoyed the fast descents. Fuelling is so important on longer distances – which I managed better than normal. It took me 4 Hrs 15 minutes to complete the course, which I was really quite happy with, as I was one of the first female riders back – behind TORQ fuelled Sally Bigham. All in all a really enjoyable weekend and good preparation for my stage race at the end of the month.
Jo Clay – I had so much fun at the Scott marathon at Rhayader. The Scott Marathons never fail to bring some of the best trails in the UK, One big loop of tough testing climbs and fun technical descents. It was great to see all sorts of riders there – from kids to pro racers. The atmosphere was great, with everyone relaxed and having a fantastic time. I always get a good training session from the marathons, which puts me in a good place for upcoming races. See you at the next Midlands Round!
Thank you to Rob Barker of www.robbarkerimages.co.uk for the images in this report.
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do: