This weekend was one of the great weekends spent with exceptional company looking at bikes that cost more than the deposit for my house. Ard Rock has now cemented itself as a festival, not just a cycling event. Last year there were in the region of 10 stalls and 2 food trucks, this year that has at least doubled. The atmosphere around the event village was buzzing people of all abilities there to share their love of the sport and get involved. As much as I'd love to camp, to soak it all in, there's something better about a slightly comfier mattress to sleep than the floor. Probably for the best as I'd already got into the festival spirit and was having a couple of beers, whilst we waiting b for the bikes and rest of the riders to turn up. Unfortunately a couple turned into more than I was banking on and at least one of my group was rather surprised that I was up and ready to go at half 6. Our start time was 8.05, we cut this a little fine as the line for registration was a lot longer than I anticipated. Out of the start gate you have a monster climb to take you to the top for stage 1. I managed to get to the top of the first climb, chest pounding and not pulling over to be sick, first and only result of the day. After the first few hundred meters of the first stage, I remembered all the parts of the course I'd managed to repress from the previous year. The chutes and drops were a lot bigger than I remembered, the time I'd spent in the peaks was no where near as technical as the parts I was encountering here. I managed to complete the stage with only one off and no injuries. The same can't be said for the second one.
After a minute to check the bike and make sure we were set, we made for the transition track to stage 2. Unlike the climb to stage 1, there was minimal riding on this transition. Two minutes of riding and thirty minutes of hiking up loose rocky terrain was all good fun. Thankfully last year the wind had been blowing at around 30mph on the top of the moors, so I opted not to complete this stage. This year feeling slightly more prepared and having company around me, I attempted it. Even on the walk up we noted how steep this particular descent was, the cargo netting at the side to save any falling riders was a good touch, and one I used at least once. This stage gave me a right beating, I grabbed a little hard on the front brake and went over the bars at least once, the slopfest of a bomb hole was a second down, then the ruts took me at least another time or three. On the last occasion falling rather hard onto my chest, thinking nothing of it jumping back on the bike to have another crack at it, only to come off a little further down. At least I attempted it this year. Transition 2 was the longest of the day and was turning into hike a bike, my chest was burning from the impact and there was no sign of it easing off. We made it to the pub/ village shop had a break and took painkillers to relieve the pain. After weighing up the odds of me not crashing anymore vs the impact me crashing and hurting more, I decided not to carry on. The reward was outweighed far more than not being able to carry on day to day life for a week or two. Thanks go out to all that helped me get ready for this event though. Andy at Performance MTB for helping with fitness, Rob ruck for taking me riding in the peaks and waiting at the tops. Thankfully I've got a rest month to sort my garden, then its onwards to the winter series. #LetsMakeCrosscountryyFunAgain #LadsLadsLads