Chain Reaction Cycles Race Report: By Darren Hartley

CRC Marathon – Builth Wells Race Report (11th April)
Blue skies and a crisp breeze greeted me and over 1,000 other riders at the start line of my first mountain bike event of the 2010 season. The venue was the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Wales, which was playing host to the first round of this year’s Marathon Series sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles (previously Merida).On the start line was a “Who’s Who” of elite endurance riders, including none other than the great Nick Craig. I felt my stomach tighten when the count down to the start commenced. I had opted for the 75km option, the longest on offer, and I asked myself what had I let myself in for! I started mid-field as we headed out for the first 8km, designed to spread out the field. The pace was really fast, but I managed to move up through the field to get into the top hundred by the time we turned off for what would be the first of many single track sections.

After the first steep climb those doing the longer route were sent out on a longer loop out on the moors. I was pleased it was mostly dry, as the grassy climbs were energy sapping. Before long we joined up with the shorter route and time for my minor criticism. It placed the riders doing the longer route behind those doing the shorter route. It made for a bit of a procession on the tight, twisty single track for the next 20km. Wearing the Joyriders shirt though I remained courteous to other riders at all times!The hills seemed to go on and on. However, as we reached the final 15km and the longer route split off, my early season endurance rides began to tell as I started to move through the field. The sun and sweet single track combined to make for some excellent riding. I would highly recommend the area.As we rode back into Builth Wells my legs felt strong as I powered through the finish line and collected the obligatory t-shirt. I checked my time, which was almost exactly 4 hours, 50 minutes behind the predictable winner – Nick Craig. I was 10 minutes closer to Nick than last year which I considered a success!Due to riders entering and completing different routes there is no way to find where in the field I finished, but judging by the finishing times and my position in the field I would say around the top 50 is reasonable. Overall it was an enjoyable event with great views and sweet single track. Highly recommended! 

Three Shires Sportive (18th April)

This was a new event, deriving its name from how the route takes in some of the best Peak District road riding in Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire. Sign-on was at the unearthly time of 07:30am on a Sunday morning! The ride started from Macclesfield, as the 250 riders headed straight onto the biggest climb of the day, 7 miles up the infamous Cat.

I started towards the back but powered through the field so that after 3 miles I found myself in the lead group of about 10. What followed was climb after climb, but with terrific views of the Peaks to dull the pain of aching legs.

The group continued to pull away, building a healthy lead. At 35 miles the group split as half the riders chose to stop to re-fuel. Five of us headed on to what were more familiar hills. We kept up the pace into a head wind, until after 45 miles we caught up with the sole rider who had broke off the front on the first climb of the day.

As we entered the final 10 miles, the lead group began to splinter on the climbs, before re-grouping on the descents. We were soon down to three, and that was how we finished back in Macclesfield – first to finish the full 60 mile course with 6,000 feet of climbing.

The weather had been kind, the views great, and the route highly recommended – even if I was clad in lycra and riding skinny tyres!

Darren Hartley
Joyriders race team 2010