September 2, 2011

Adidas TERREX Coast To Coast 2011, Day 3

Continued from Coast to Coast, Day 2

Stage 11: Run over Nine Standards
Well, to start the day off we had a run out of Kirkby Stephen up to the Nine Standards Rigg. 
Home territory!
  I had been up to the peak before on the Yomp Mountain Challenge in 2010, but it had been so foggy that day I hadn't even realized that there was anything but a random checkpoint on top of a hill!  So it was nice to see the 9 rock cairns silhouetted against the sun as we climbed up to them.  It was a gentle gradient but after 2 days of racing for over 8 hours each day, I took it nice and steady to save some running legs for the downhill half. 

It was a bit muddy getting up to the top but nothing too serious...at least until we dibbed in at the cairns and started down the east side.  In a bit of confusion, the race briefing the evening before directed us to take the summer route, but the directions given turned out to be the winter route on the signage.  Anyway, everyone ahead of me was following the winter route so I went that way too.  Immediately there were lines of black scars crossing the route, each one a bog which may or may not eat your shoes for breakfast.  I saw the guy ahead of me sink in past his knees, offered to pull him out (!), and then made sure I stayed well away from that spot.  Also tightened my shoe laces to make sure they stayed on me feet.  It was a long, muddy run down to the creek and then along the trail following the water.   I fell into bogs a few times and was caked in mud from the knees down...even took a bit of a spill, luckily in clean water!

The last few miles of the run seemed to drag on forever, as this was the longest run section of the C2C and also the boggiest.  I was happy to finally see my bike even if it would mean more mud! 

Stage 12: MTB along Swaledale
I had been dreading the MTB stages a bit as I haven't had more than a few months of mountain biking experience and still don't feel too confident off-road on the really technical stuff.  However I was pleasantly surprised at the route and was able to ride most of it and enjoy it.  The first half of the stage was along a river valley with wonderfull views of the steeps cliffs and dales around us.  I had never visited that part of the Yorkshire Dales so it was an introduction to the terrain in my own backyard! 

There were plenty of mud puddles involved in the route but the skies were clear and blue, it wasn't too windy, and for the most part the winds were behind us.  Climbing out of the valley was a really steep push up a grassy bank (dropping the bike would have meant chasing it back down the hill a hundred yards!).  Once out on the moor, the path was mostly rideable again, and the purple heather was beautiful.  I started hearing the helicoptor nearby, and sure enough, looking behind me showed 2 yellow jerseys of the leading team catching up. 


Transition at Castle Bolton
 Earning the top of the hill was wonderful, as it meant a long, gradual descent down to the next transition at Castle Bolton.  I swept along at top speed and managed not to rattle anything loose (like my water bottle), catching a few last boggy sections right before getting waved in by Rob to get my wheels swapped over for the road section. 

Stage 13: Cycle through the Vale of York
It was a shorter day with only 3 stages (appropriate for the 3rd day), and I was feeling strong as I rode away from the Castle.  It was open route choice over to Northallerton; but with a pinch point at where we could cross the Motorway, there was a pretty obvious route.  By this time the wind was blowing pretty strong, but with a westerly route direction it was mostly a tailwind and quite flat as well.  I punched the accelerator and covered the 32 miles in 1 hour 47 minutes.  I don't think my MTB will ever average that speed again...  I came into town after putting some time back into Alex (Solo #15), as we had a friendly competition going on mid-pack, only to lose a few minutes waiting for a train.  I was in good company though with a few race leaders stopped there as well.  I was still able to finish with a time under 7 hours total, which had been my goal for the day.  At the finish, there was no Rob waiting for me, and it turned out he would arrive 25 minutes after me, totally surprised that I had beat him there!

I sat in the sunshine at the finish and watched the rest of the racers come in, reflecting that I had enjoyed every stage of the race so far.  None of the stages had been so long that I got tired of them, and after a couple of hours it was always time to switch to another discipline and head out again.  The thought of this race had terrified me back when I signed up for it, but now it was turning into a pleasant weekend of racing and a wonderful way of seeing the terrain of my new country. 

Day 3 results are here

Coming up next... Coast to Coast, Day 4

Waiting for Rob at the finish....


 
Road wheels on and ready for the tarmac



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