Manx100 #mtb #iom
The rain may fall,
the wind may blow,
the fog will settle
but we will still ride the Manx 100
© san kapil
THE MANX 100
It was a beautiful day on Saturday the 25th of July. Blue skies, warm a real Spanish feel about things. I was listening to James Bay ‘Let It Go’ while Helen and Leela chauffeured me to Liverpool for the ferry to the Isle Of Man for the toughest one day mountain bike ride, in the UK #Manx100 Travelling as a foot passenger is far more cost effective than taking the car. As I was boarding I met Pete Booth, Mark Evans, Jon Hobson and Andy Howett who would all be joining me for the event. We swapped stories of the rides we had done this year but not much can get you prepared for the Manx 100 as it’s a unique race and should be on every fit mountain biker’s bucket list. The forecast wasn’t looking great in fact it was bloody awful for the Sunday and we weren’t impressed as Saturday was glorious. I was staying at the Inglewood, handy for the grandstand start as it is only a short climb up and Andy the owner is bike friendly. We registered on Saturday evening and I received my race number 33 and met up with Crispin Holt (Chris) who I’d met at The Crossing and Tour De Ben Nevis, I would room with Chris that night. Pasta was on the menu that evening at Alessandro where myself, Crispin (Chris), Mark and John would socialise.
5.30am get up and we were on a mission to get ready Chris had kindly sorted some porridge while I nipped downstairs for some bananas and muffins.
6am and we made our way to the grandstand for the roll call. I met up with Rich Rothwell, Andy Howett and John Hobson who are all impressive endurance riders. Nigel Morris, the brainchild behind The Manx100 was very excited to see 60 mountain bikers ready for action. The start was slightly delayed as we waited for the police escort so I took this opportunity to go to the front and chat with Rich, Andy and Jon as this would be my one and only time at the front. 😉
The forecast was for rain and more rain and strong winds but so far so good it was overcast and perfect Manx conditions.
The police escorted us to the first off road climb. Gaps had already appeared and we all found our position which was somewhere near the back for me. Chris passed me, my legs just felt really heavy and my head was pounding as if I was suffering from a hangover but I hadn’t touched a drop all year so god only knows what was going on. Within the first 10 miles Chris had suffered a puncture so I stopped and took the opportunity to have a bit of flapjack and some jelly babies. After checking that Chris was OK I pressed on as I knew he would catch me up anyway as today it was going to be slow and painful. So far all the black arrows in red boxes were certainly doing their job. The climbing had started out of OHIO, which was the first big climb of the morning that would eventually bring you out on the OHIO Plantation and over Narradale bogs to East Mountain Gate where you would get some relief with your first bag drop. The climb across the moor/bogs was tough, as the weather had now started as per the forecast. We had done well to have the first 3 hours of dry but now it was cold, wet and windy. I was glad to reach the bag drop just behind Chris and tucked into my food, pasta, nuts and plenty of drink. I was tempted to give my good friend Matti from The Isle Of Man a ring for a pick up and call the ride in, as I wasn’t feeling it today but after my nourishment I felt ok so continued the ride. I didn’t hang there for long and was soon off onto the TT course where it was pouring down the wind was horrendous but I felt much better. I was back on track. The left part of the course takes you up to the only section of the whole ride where it’s ‘hike a bike’ and this was boggy as I found out when I was knee deep. The top of Snaefell mines was bleak, foggy, wet and windy in fact for the end of July it felt like late November, “bloody awful”. The descent down the mines is very steep and this time I knew what to expect so there was no soft landing. The road of the graves is a great descent but I can see why many riders puncture here, as the rocks are sharp. I made my way down into Laxey and then the climbing started again up a very steep road climb where I would meet Mark Evans another endurance rider who had done the Dales300km. We chit chatted about bikes and events that we had done which helped pass the time and made you forget about the hill climbs. Mark was planning to do the 100 miler but had soon changed his mind to the 100km, as he knew that the clock would be against him. Fortunately Mark had the map loaded on the GPS and it was lucky we had it, as we certainly needed it as some of the locals had moved the signs. We both reached the next checkpoint at St Lukes Church and this is one big, long climb that goes on and on which has you off and on the bike. I was glad when it was over so that I could enjoy the descent down the moor and into the village where I would see Chris at the Spar shop. Mark and myself continued but I was slowing. Chris caught me up and Mark continued on, as he must have had his second wind. Chris and myself would now ride the remainder of the 100k. The tough climb ‘the Baltic’ was to come and the wind was blowing the rain sideways. We were getting cold but still had a way to go to get to the finish line. My body temperature was dropping as we were high up on the hills and exposed to the elements we kept moving with the exception of an occasional “pee stop”. I was glad to have Chris as company as he pretty much dragged me to the final checkpoint through the fog, wind and rain. We would call it a day our epic 100k was complete with over 10,000 feet of elevation. After a bite to eat from our Bag Drop 2 we headed back to the Grandstand. I didn’t envy those doing the 100 miler as we turned off left they turned right to continue for more punishment.
This is one hell of a ride because you meet fabulous riders and the scenery is great (when there is no fog).
The tracks you ride are tough make no mistake about it there are rocks, loose stones and motorbike tracks. It is a real test of endurance and I would say the toughest one-day event in the UK without a doubt so if you think your hard/daft enough come and have a go.
The nearest I got to a podium place was having pizza that evening with Rob Friel (winner) and Rich Rothwell (2nd)
PS. Big thanks to Nigel and Dave for organising the event and all the marshalls on the day.
Judy (For your Fleece at Bluebell Lane).
Jon Hobson: Well done for first person to complete manx100 miles on a Single Speed – awesome effort
Mark Evans, and Crispin Holt (great riding with you guys).
I’ll keep going back until I’ve done the 100 miler !
1. Salsa Spearfish 29er Full Suss
2. Forks RS1
3. XX1 32-42t 11 speed
4. SRAM rise rims
5. Specialized Tyres- Fast trax and Control (tubes)
6. Prologue x10 saddle
7. Nitro Pedals- Flats – no cleats 😉