Even at St. Lukes Church nobody heard my prayers……
The climb out of Laxey and my legs feel heavy, sure enough as I look down at the back wheel I have a full wobble and realise that I have broken a spoke not to mention my headset. Unfortunately, it is the same one that I broke on Rumble In The Jungle in Sri Lanka back in June. After last year’s debacle with fatbike punctures I wasn’t in the mood for mechanicals so even though I was upset, I pressed on up to St. Luke’s church and called my good friend Mati to see if he was anywhere near and if he had his bike handy. Unfortunately he was over an hour away so I carried on all the while thinking I’ll go as far as I can and keep on riding. If anyone has done the climb from St. Lukes you will know that it’s tough with boulders, loose rock and the rest where lines are hard to find. In fact there are no easy climbs Honey Hill, Ohio, Baltic are just a few that those who have done the Manx100 will know what I’m talking about.
Anyway the morning of the Manx100 race was pleasant in fact slightly warm with no rain in the forecast so over 150 riders were ready to challenge themselves to do the 100km or 100 miles, which is 10,000 or 15,000 feet of climbing on probably the toughest terrain you can imagine. The fastest of riders will struggle to achieve 10mph over the 100 mile course so that gives you an idea of the event.
My idea was just to complete the race and have an enjoyable day on the bike but also make it back in time for the 8pm curry in Douglas with some of the Manx riders.
The 100km was billed as the National Champs so the riders going for the podium were at the front ready to race.
Phil “the train” Simcock, Rich “Rocket” Rothwell, Kev “FullGas” Folan, Keith “HardAsF@@k” Forsythe and Mike “LaidBack” Hancock, were the big 100 miler hitters all capable of winning this event and some riding full suss and others on Hardtails . It’s always impressive seeing these guys ride, as they are a different breed, born to race.
The steady police controlled lead out was fast as the gaps started quickly and riders found their place. After the police escort the Manx100 race starts and the terrain starts to slowly turn into what will lay ahead as you quickly get a taste of it early with a loose rubble climb. As tyre choice is vitally important, in my opinion nothing less than a Specialised Fastrax, Control or Slaughter is definitely the correct choice as the Renegade did struggle.
I like to climb and the Manx100 is definitely a climber’s event with over 10000 feet on the 100km and 15000 feet on the 100 miler but this ain’t no roadie climb.
The descents are as tough as they get and don’t let up and focus is required otherwise you are coming off and going home early so if it looks out of your comfort zone then you should get off and walk.
My race continued to the 100km finish but it was only 5pm and after 11 hours in the saddle I felt I still had more to give and the rear wheel was still holding out. So I turned right and continued to follow the 100 miler signs which would now be heading to the west side of the island and the various plantations. The climb up to the Dowse descent was steep and the descent was probably one of the worst I’ve experienced. It made the beast in the Peak District look easy. I knew that if I was to ride some of this that my wheel would explode so I got off and walked losing valuable time. Having reached St. Johns and completed 70 miles with over 11,000 feet of climbing I thought it was now time to call the ride in as I still had 30 miles to do and another 4,000 feet and by then the legs were starting to feel tired. I gave my mate Mati, who lives on the island, a call as he had said he would pick me up.
The organisation from the route markings, marshalls and drop bags were as a race should be and I had no navigational issues.
The GPX file was spot on.
My fellow riders were all a joy to be with and stories were shared after the event of all their experiences.
A fantastic well done to Phil Simcock, who fully deserved the 100 mile victory, followed by Rich and Kev.
So if you fancy probably the hardest one-day mountain bike event out there then pop over to the Isle of Man and challenge yourself to the Manx100.
A big thank you to my mate Matti and Katie for looking after me over the weekend.
Van Nic Ti Zion 29er
Fulcrum Red Metal rims
Specialised tyres – Slaughter and Renegade
JMC bib shorts
Stadium Riders Jersey