Ball Busting Beastly Breamish Behemoth….
Twenty Five miles in and the climb to Windy Gyle had brought my riding companion to his knees. The forty two mile event was taking its toll on most of the riders and the mighty Breamish Behemoth was definitely the toughest ‘mile for mile’ ride I had done this year.
The wind battered our bodies and soon the rain started too. My fingerless gloves probably weren’t the right choice today, but it wasn’t until now that the cold started to bite. Saul, Travs and Ian aka “TheVarlster” would tackle what I described last year as “One of my top 3 mtb events”.
The event starts from the off with a climb and the lungs are immediately working hard as we are in the thick of it. The trails are wet and muddy but the air is clear and I’m feeling great. As we press on, the trails get harder to ride as the grass is soaked and your effort is concentrated on avoiding the inevitability of pushing.
We make it to the first feed station ready for some grub and a refill of the water bottle with an energy drink. The climb out of the first feed station is long and gravelly but at least no mud as yet. Our next stop would be Barrowburn where we could replenish stocks – the four of us were enjoying each other’s company but Saul, being the strongest rider on his singlespeed, was miles in front and would wait for us at the top of each climb. I would enjoy my time with Travs and “The Varlster” who are great company to ride with and are comical.
As we approached Barrowburn after another muddy climb, our energy levels were depleting and most of us were running on empty. The café at Barrowburn is, unfortunately, no more and instead they had a pop up café just for the event, which consisted of tea, coffee, water, coke, kit-kit, cheese and onion pasties and meat pies. We devoured our pasties and kit- kats in no time, as I knew what lay ahead. The climb that kept on climbing would eventually bring us to the top of Windy Gyle.
I cleared the climb out of Barrowburn to the first gate, which was my intention. The Eagle does have its uses. The climb after the gate was just as tough as the ground was soft but I cleared that too. A lot of energy was used but my goal was always to ride and not push. The next section up to Windy Gyle was barely walkable let alone rideable and Saul was now starting to feel the cold due to the fact that he was waiting for us and had to eventually make the decision to carry on the event at his own pace. All that was left were the 3 amigos that would push and help each other up to the top of Windy Gyle.
We descended the old stoned track to the next feed station but there was still plenty of riding to be done to get there and the wet, muddy trails together with the constant headwind was just making it twice as hard. I remember riding this last year on my fatbike and the trails were dry with not a puddle in sight and not even a headwind but today these conditions were probably the worst I’ve ridden in since the West Highland Way attempt with Rich Rothwell and Keith Forsythe a couple of years ago.
The last feed station was a godsend so we tucked into some crisps and sweets that would help keep us going for the next six miles. One more big climb on gravel and a really fast descent. Puddle after puddle, knee deep in mud just to test us all to the limit. The Bracken trail that followed was a long slog of pushing until reaching the top, where a marshal was there waiting for you with a hob nob so thanks for that.
I remember last year the final descent was super fast and the way a tough ride like this should end. The only difference this year was that I was 90 minutes slower along with being tired, wet and hungry.
The Behemoth had taken its toll on the majority of riders, as over 50% hadn’t finished. Most had opted for the escape route at Barrowburn twenty five miles into the ride. This probably was a good call for those feeling the pain of the Behemoth in the these conditions that a cyclist endures.
So even though it was the toughest ride this year due to the conditions I completed it and here I am looking forward to possibly a new, colossal Behemoth, which could be a one hundred miler. Now who would be up for that????
Probably will be the toughest one day event in the UK…
Many thanks go to all the marshals and organisers of this awesome event.
Fastest time: 6hr 12 mins
My Time: 9hr 5mins
Slowest Time: 11 hrs
Bike: Salsa Spearfish 29er, RS1 Forks, XTR Brakes, Jones Bars, Tubes,
Vitorria Morza 2.3 tyre, SRAM Wheels, running Eagle 32/50T