The Frozen Devil was a 50km off road mountain bike event organised by Red Kite Events and held on the first weekend after new year.
Over the Christmas holiday I’d covered 320km (197miles) via 7 rides and walked 27km (17 miles) over 3 days. Garmin estimated that as 12,000KCal, the equivalent to about 5 days extra energy (2,500 KCal per day for a typical man). They say that the most important part of training is the resting so the day before the event I treated myself to a rest day. I had a suspicion that I needed a bit more rest really. I spent the day trying to sate my massive hunger by eating a lot. Weather wise, after a long week of rain it was suspiciously dry all day.
The morning of the event I woke up feeling hungry. So I ate enough porridge for four people. I topped that up with a banana and a few 9Bars whilst I waited for the event to start. I still felt a bit hungry. I was worried that my energy levels were low. I guessed that the massive amount of porridge inside me was being digested.
I spotted Jay and Richard from Mudtrek (MTB accomodation), Matt Page (endurance racer), regulars like Peter Lloyd and Steve Aucock plus Gary from Dirty Saddles/MBSwindon. A mention goes to surname sharing Anna Stickland (no relation). There were around 70 riders in the car park waiting to do battle out in the wet forest.
The route had been slightly adjusted and shortened due to the large amount of rain that had fallen over the week leading up to the event . A lot of fallen trees had been removed from the route too.
After instructions of “Follow the yellow arrows. Don’t fall off. Eat cake at the food stops*.” we were off. The arrows directed us left out of the school which meant a fast sprint along the road and a nasty lung buster up a short and steep climb.
I felt awful! Weak, fatigued, hungry. No mojo. I had 55km of mud ahead of me. What could I do? Keep going and hope it would get better.
Somehow I managed to keep up a reasonable pace along the road. A few riders pulled away from me and then Matt Page went past, never to be seen again. The route turned left past the chapel and I knew what was to come – a steep climb up a gravel track. I still felt weak but I knew that once that porridge came on stream then I’d be fine. I already felt a bit better once I was half way up the climb. I gave myself a whoop for managing to ride through the tight gateway without putting my feet on the ground. Small positives to cheer me up! I felt almost human by the time I’d reached the top of the hill via sticky mud.
For the next few miles as we rode up to the Crychan Forest and then into it I managed to hold a steady position. I had a game of leap frog with Peter Lloyd and Steven Aucock who were blaming their lack of low gears for having to walk up some of the steepest bits. I had more gears so I rode up and that was slightly quicker. Then they got back onto their bikes with renewed energy and left me on the downs. On average though I was maintaining a similar pace.
The route used a mixture of tracks, paths and tricky single track over slippery roots. I recognised parts of it from previous events such as the 2013 Devil’s MTB, the 2012 Real Ale Wobble and other rides I’ve done in the area over the years such as the quarry tour.
I called in at the food stop to survey the food and to drink some water. I saw a massive selection of hand made cakes, quiche, boiled potatoes and fruit, all courtesy of local B&B and restaurant The Drover’s Rest. The food stop received much praise from the riders!
The route then pushed further into the Forest with a mixture of tough climbs and a few downs. I remember cursing the Forest on the Devil’s MTB 2012 and it was dry that time! I pretty much had a group of four or five riding buddies by this point. We were looking at the tyre tracks and trying to estimate how many riders were in front of us. I reckoned on between 10 or 20 which was promising. There are some great rocky paths in the Forest though some of the linking stages were suffering after a week of rain.
Sadly the weather made the steepest technical descent a bit too slippery to fully appreciate. Over the years I’ve been intimidated by this, mastered it, come to love it but this time had to resort to a bit of walking due to the gloop. I knew we were close to the food stop though and the second visit was used for a fully featured cake and quiche eating session. Fifteen minutes later I decided that I ought to stop. With over 30km on the Garmin and three hours expired I guessed that I was on target for four hours all in. I also knew that it was the best part of 10km back to the start so there couldn’t be much funny business left on the route.
I discovered that my riding partner for this section was actually from Stroud and had worked out the Tirabad outdoor centre in 1997. After some up and down on fire road I was introduced to new descent in the woods. After a final mud bath on the exit bridleway we were back in the fields above Llanwrtyd. That meant a speedy descent along slippery tracks, a bit of a climb and then a blast along the road back into town.
I reached the finish at just under 4 hours. I heard that Matt Page had done it in 3 hours. That made him 33% faster than me. However, my Garmin stats showed that I spent half an hour stationery during the event, probably eating cakes. That made me around 16% slower than him. But then considering that he broke a chain and spent time fixing that I’m definitely slower than him!
When the results were emailed through the next day I was chuffed to see that I was 12th out of 65 riders. If I’d avoided the cake stops then I’d have been a few places higher too. Overall I was very pleased with that. I also really enjoyed the ride once I got going. The course held up well considering the weather and there were plenty of sneaky technical features to keep the interest levels up.
|Elapsed time||3h 59m|
|Speed (elapsed time)||11.7 km/h||7.3 mph|
|Moving time||3h 29m|
|Speed (moving time)||13.3 km/h||8.3 mph|
|Max speed||47.5 km/h||29.5 mph|
|Energy rate (moving time)||600 KCal / hour|