|(c) Dave Haygarth|
As expected the route headed upwards from the start and with less that 30 riders on the CX route I was soon on my own, the fast boys up ahead and people walking behind me. But it wasn't long before I caught the fast boys, a group containing lots of twitter buddies. They had gone about 200m the wrong way following a sign pointing the wrong way. I rode with them for most of the first ten miles after this as my Garmin was useful with the route loaded onto it, flagging a missed turn and reassuring us when we were unsure. After a push up a cobbled climb out of Hebden Bridge they all pulled away on the climb Heptonstall and that was the last I was to see of them. Coming along the MTL I was having fun following a mountain biker down, too much fun as I punctured. My own fault I was going too fast as it was rocky. Fixing it I managed to not use my CO2 correctly so it was a case of pumping it up as hard as I could, I didn't want to puncture again! While I punctured it I was passed by two riders looking less than happy as they tried to ride the descent. Rocky descents are a world away from most cross races (The Three Peaks being the exception).
Rolling in the feed it was nice to see Ali and that the feed station had chocolate muffins, this led to an extended stop while I chatted and ate loads of muffins! Heading off thinking that I would have been a lot better on my mountain bike for the first half I was interested to see what the second half would bring. At first it seemed a lot more Cross Bike friendly and I was enjoying the frame tracks and slightly less rocky descents, I could occasionally catch a glance of someone behind me but otherwise I was on my own. Then I ended up carrying something I probably could ride on my mtb before a proper carry that I wouldn't have been riding on any bike. Across the top was boggy and a couple of puddles were deeper than they looked as I found out when I went flying! The descent would have been fun and challenging on a mountain bike, on a cross bike it was scary. At one point I came off to the left to find out the braken had stopped me falling down a cliff. After that I walked a bit of it. But rode down the bottom section where I was cheered on by the Marshalls from the Calderdale Mountain Bike Marathon who we were sharing this section of trail with.
A little bit of road took me to the timed climb, once again cobbled and I ended up walking half of it. After that it was more kinks and twists as I could see the Valley Floor and then I was following the start of the route back to the start. I crossed the line only about 35minutes behind the fast boys and found out plenty of people hadn't done the whole course. It was a tough route and I hadn't been racing mainly just enjoying the weather and the views, no point rushing when the weather is so nice. There were a few things that could be improved but it was the first running of the event and most things were fantastic and I had a great day on the bike. I'll be back next year but with a mountain bike!