Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
Exposure Lights Big Night Out 11/04/09
Graeme Report  

   Just me up for this one. It was staged in Builth Wells in the middle of Wales which is the same place Trans Wales is starting and finishing at. Katie and I drove up there on Good Friday (nearly 6 hours in the bank holiday traffic) and setup the tent on the campsite. We strolled into town for a beer and a curry that night, which was one of the best pre race meals I've had for a while.

   Saturday we went out for a run (well I cycled along side Katie) just to get the legs pumping then relaxed round the campsite waiting for evening and the start. Because this event was 50km long and at night, I figured it'd take few hours to do, thus I'd need some Go-Gels to keep me going. Normally I carry these in my back pocket, however they can get a bit messy once you'd put a few used gels in your pocket, so I decided to tape them to the crossbar, very pro! Now because the Merida series are run along bridlepaths and roads they are not classed as races as such, just timed events. However that didn't mean people weren’t up for it.

   On the start line we had a 20min delay whilst we waited for the sun to go down, then we were led out onto the roads and to the beginning of the trail. This was about 8km down the road and I found myself in the front group behind the pace van. Being in the middle of a group it was easy to keep the pace and as I looked back and the field had really spread out.

   The first bit of off-road we climbed up onto Aberedw Hill whilst the sun went down. The view was amazing with a string of red lights in front of me and the white ones behind all climbing up the hill. Once to the top of the hill it was down the other side which was a mix of off camber single track and riding along the edge of a drop. It was only at this point I had to turn my lights on full as the sun stayed up for ages, then we had a bright full moon.

   A bit of road section and we were onto the next hill. I picked up a puncture here, so as I was running tubeless I just used a C02 cart and reinflated it. I little further up the hill I started to get stomach cramps really badly. Once near the top I had to pull over and sort it out as I could barely move. That out of the way and I was ok, just steadily climbing to the top. I didn't bother to stop at the feed station as I had all I needed, however just after this section the trail went really steep. A guy in front of me stopped and blocked the trail, so I had to jump off and run up the top bit.
   Once at the top, the course went over some moorland where the signage got a bit spaced out, so I kept with a small group of riders. We were all riding along in single file when the front rider stopped, lucky they did as just
in front of them was a 30ft drop down some rocks. It wasn't until that point that I'd appreciated dangerousness
of the event. The next bit of downhill was brilliant and I really railed it, when I looked back at the bottom there
was nobody behind me. The only other person I could see was a distant light in front of me, it felt rather lonely
out there at that point.
   The next and last off road climb was an easy drag up a piece of double track. It felt like my back tyre had
another flat, however I carried on. Into the next downhill section I heard and felt the tyre lose all of its air, this
time I pulled over and put a tube in. Everyone that passed me asked if I was OK and had all the tools/gear I
needed, which showed how nice MTBers are to each other. Once at the bottom of this hill it was a drag back
along the road to the finish.
   I crossed the line in 2h 59m 47s, which I was happy with, however I lost 20mins through stopping, so could
have done a lot better. The event was great and I'll be doing another Merida event soon.
   We had to be back for Easter Sunday, so at midnight we left the campsite and started the 4 hour drive home.
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