After my failure last year to complete it I felt I had unfinished business at the Kielder 100. Fortunately this year the weather gods were in our favor. A bit windy but otherwise perfect conditions for a days racing.
Very tired but happy to have finished the Kielder 100 in under 11 hours.
Went up with my sister this year and camped at Kielder Campsite. Didn’t sleep very well in the tent but got enough to feel ok for a 5am wake up. Went up to the start a bit more relaxed then last year and just queued up not really worrying how far back I was. I learnt a lot from last years mistakes and wore the right clothes from the start and not carrying a backpack was the right decision. I knew I could ride quite happily for 2 hours on one bottle of drink and top up a bit at the feed stations.
6.30 am on the dot and we were off. Seemed much more relaxed than last year, probably because I just chilled out until the field started to thin out a bit and I could find my own pace. I possibly lost some time doing that but not enough for it to worry me. I had told myself that I had to pace myself so I could ensure I would make it all the way round. I was strict and put an upper limit of 165BPM heart rate so I did not go into the red. It worked too because I didn’t even get a hint of cramp the whole way round.
For the first 30-40 miles there were riders going by me but I was strong and kept to my own pace. Enjoying the scenery and having fun on the descents. Eating and drinking well, actually enjoying myself.
After passing through the first cut off at 51 miles it was onto the board walk to head out into Scotland. The winds on the top were very strong and made this part of the trip very heavy going. The descent after the boardwalk felt more like a steep climb. It was rough too, which started to take its tole on my back. After the descent it was the long slog up the grassy double track past the piper into Scotland. I will give him his due, to do that all day takes some credit, let alone do it on a very windy hillside. I suffered up this climb and I have to say was a low point of the whole ride for me. Once over the top it was still a battle with the wind but at least the trail smoothed out a bit and I could get moving again. This made me feel a lot better.
After some fun on the 7 Staines I noticed my front mech had moved and was dangerously close to being hit by my crank arm. It was lucky I noticed as I could have had some serious problems. I knew I was less than a mile from the Newcastleton feed station at 65 miles so decided to roll down the grassy descent and just didn’t pedal much and kept a close eye on things. Took the bike straight to the tech station and they found the mech had just slipped and they had it straightened up in no time. Saved me messing with it on the trail side, so lucky really. They put some lube on the chain for me too as it was looking a bit sorry for itself.
The hot soup and sandwich was just what the doctor ordered along with a sit down and chill for 5 minutes. Despite the worlds smallest cups, the cup of tea felt like the best one I had ever had. Here is where I made the biggest of school boy errors. Was so busy chatting with another rider, I just followed him through the checkpoint. Only realising after about 3 miles I had not re filled my water bottle. Massive mistake, and typically as soon as I noticed I suddenly got very thirsty. Fortunately I asked a spectator if they had some spare water and they produced a massive bottle of water, I was very lucky there and very grateful to a very generous lady.
After some more fun on the 7 Stains stuff we switched onto a valley track. Despite being up hill all the way, the tail wind was amazing and I could really crack on. It was at this point I started to slowly pass other riders who had started to suffer. Shortly before the final feed station there was a really hard slow slog through sticky muddy trails that felt like they went on forever. I just kept my head down and slogged it out. Finally the last feed station appeared and I stuffed myself with fig rolls and sweets. There were a lot of tired bodies around. We were at 78 miles, just 23 miles still to go.
I just told myself it was just like a night ride with the lads. I felt OK but I was getting tired and my back was now very painful every bump was like a jackhammer on my lower spine. Fortunately most of it was on smooth double track but the first 7 or so miles after the feed were into a very heavy head wind. Once the wind was on my back it felt like I was flying along. Riders were now a lot fewer and far between, still passing very tired and broken people every now and again though.
My legs felt good still, just my back was making things uncomfortable. Got up the last few climbs without problem. Even the last climb up to the last checkpoint didn’t bother me, I must have past a dozen riders on that section alone. The final descent to the finish was a good giggle and was good to end the event on a high.
Passed through the finish and dibbed in with a time of 10 hours 55 mins, finishing 77th overall and 47th in class. I am really pleased with that as I wanted to do it in under 11 hours. I huge sense of achievement in finishing such a hard event.
Would I do it again? Not sure yet, ask me next year….