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Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Barebones 200 ITT.....Job Done!

The weekend of the 12th and 13th of October saw the running of the Barebones 200 individual time trial by Stuart at Forest Freeride.

This was my final target event to take part in on the Element this year (the other two being the Highland Trail Race and the Trans Cambrian Way).

With the Highland Trail Race not going to plan, being made up for in a small way by the Trans Cambrian going so well, I was really looking forward to this event.

I approached it with the ethos of enjoyment not being compromised by trying to "set a time" - this is a handy philosophy when one is not fast on a bike and likes to sleep in random places!!

Upon arriving at Stu's place it became immediately obvious to me that the event had a certain air of seriousness about it, unlike the now hugely popular 'Welsh Ride Thing' held here earlier in the year, there were many very lightweight looking setups - no trailers or bottles of whiskey here!

To describe the event to the uninitiated, it (turned out to be) a 213km individual time trial, no support, no food stashes and no prearranged accommodation. Competitors are encouraged to complete it in less than 24 hours for a black badge, less than 30 hours for a blue badge and for simply completing the route they are awarded a green badge.

Having completed the 106 miles of the TransCam a couple of weeks ago in 29.5 hours my target was to try to up the pace a bit and sleep a bit less and complete the BB200 in a similar time.

PP, Keith and I had planned to ride together - they both had black badges already and kind of fancied a slightly more chillaxed event (having slept/collapsed in a public toilet on the previous event).

So we started out, and the first bit of the route was predominantly on road, Keith and I pulled out a bit of a gap and it started to rain. I stopped to put my jacket on, signalling to Keith my intention - to which he replied "I'm going to keep going - you'll catch me up" - this was the last I saw of Keith until Sunday morning!!

The main obstacle on day one was the 537m of Carnau I knew this bit was going to be tough both physically and navigationally but what I hadn't accounted for was having an off! On the descent off Carnau there is a ford you have to cross - seemed straight forward enough - I approached it as any other - speed is your friend, however I hadn't accounted for how slippy the rocks leading up to it would be. Before I could even consider bailing I was over and in. This in itself wasn't ideal, but then it could have been worse I reasoned as I pushed my funny sounding bike out of the ford. it was only when I went to ride off that I noticed I had in fact bent the rear mech completely into the rear wheel - fail!! The only thing I could do was bend it out and carry on, on closer inspection it turned out I had bent both the mech and the sliding aluminium dropout.

The original plan was to stop at Moel Prysgau bothy, the half way point of the route, so essentially I just plugged on to this meeting point. The terrain was hard going but far from impossible (and far easier than the Highland Trail Race) - I eventually arrived at the Bothy at 6.15pm. It was at this point that I recalled a conversation I had had in the week leading up to the event with PP. He had mentioned that you can access the Bothy from a fireroad above it - meaning you can avoid the very wet marshy bit to get to the Bothy.

So, as discussed, I cycled up and around behind the Bothy, expecting to find a bit of a bank which I could descend to the Bothy - unfortunately what I was confronted with was what can only be described as a bloody steep rocky bank - it was at this point I cursed PP!! It was only upon turning around that I spotted a footpath which led me to the Bothy.

Upon arriving I was greeted by four walkers who had the fire going and were making their evening meal. With it still being light outside it really didn't make sense to stay - but it was very appealing none the less.

With a heavy heart I bode the walkers farewell and continued on, with the aim of getting to Pontrhydfendigaid - there was a pub there.

I got the Black Lion Hotel at about 7.30, having ridden up the 7 splashes out of Moel and with it now raining and dark it was a welcome sight.

I quickly bought a pint and some nuts and sat with 3 other competitors. While sitting at the table one of the waitresses came to clear the plates and I found myself asking her to leave them so I could finish off the chips someone had left - I thought "Stu would be proud of me"!!

The pub was only 10km from the best bothy ever - Claerddu. Leaving the pub was not made any easier by the landlord who came over and offered B&B for £30. But again, I politely declined and went out into the now very blustery and wet night.

The climb out of Pontrhydfendigaid is predominantly on road, and albeit a bit of a slog (not made easier by the headwind and driving rain) it really wasn't too bad. The road turned into more of a track and it was at this point that I was overtaken by a VW transporter - which I thought nothing more of.

Arriving at the left turn for the Bothy I also came across the, now parked VW. On riding to the bothy I overtook 5 walkers - who it turned out had driven up in their car!! I got there, pretty wet and tired, only to be pampered by the walkers who not only got the fire going but also made me a cuppa and gave me a mince pie - now this is what I call roughing it!!!

I decided to get up at 5.30 and be back on the bike for 6, which all worked out ok - especially knowing that the trail around the reservoir was easy to follow.

I made pretty good progress and before I knew it I was skirting Penygarreg Reservoir - at which point I came across Keith - having a brew and some breakfast. It was at this point that we decided to ride the last bit together - which was nice.

We knew from reports of recces etc that the last 15km were not ideal - with some pretty conceptual pushes - which is why, when at 192km in, I got worried because i had so little energy left. My "rational" fix for this was to eat my last ham and coleslaw roll, half a malt loaf, an entire chocolate covered kendal mint cake, half a pack of raw jelly and two lumps of Yorkie - I had now gone from feeling low on energy to feeling sick!!!

The final push didn't disappoint - but to be honest it was kind of nice to be out of the saddle for a bit using different muscle groups.

We eventually rolled back in to Stu's place a little over the 29 hour mark - happy days!

So all in all, 2 of three targets for the new frame have been achieved - now its all about getting more miles on over the winter to try to hit the 1000 mile mark for the Bespoked show in April.

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