I recently took the decsion to enter my first ever mountain bike endurance “race”. Well, its not really classed as a race, but they give you a number and a computer timing chip, so it kinda is a race!
The event in question was called The Beast Unchained. It is held at the Coed-y-Brenin forest park near Dolgellau in north Wales. The park has miles and miles of various graded mountain bike trails, and one of the trails is called “The Beast”. The purpose of this event was to take in some of the best sections of The Beast, but also take you outside of the confines of the park, and take in sections that the public dont usually get to ride!
Having got back on a mountain bike in June 2019, I had spent the entire summer riding. With my fitness improving I thought I would challenge myself and enter this event. Two distances were on offer, a 30km (approx 18 miles) route and 45km (approx 28 miles) route. I was planning to do the 30km loop, as that is where I thought my fitness level was at.
And what a challenge it was. The night before the event had over 6 hours of torrential rain, as ex hurricane Lorenzo moved through. I was hoping for dry weather for the event, but came prepared for the worst that an autumnal north Wales could throw at me.
As it turned out, the weather was ok. However, the previous nights rain had made for some interesting mountain biking conditions on the trails. All the rain was now trying to find its way back down the mountains. Streams had become small rivers, and the actual rivers had become raging torrents with big waterfalls. The mountain biking trails were literally flowing with water!
The beauty of The Beast Unchained was that you could choose which distance you rode whilst you was riding. You could gauge how you felt, and decide at the time which distance you wanted. The split for the distances was about 10 miles in. It coincided with the food stop, and at this point I was feeling good. Time to ditch the 30km, and opt for the longer 45km route!
Im really pleased I made the choice to go for the longer distance. Although it contained an additonal 2 long climbs, the downhill sections where super fun and technical. As you will see in the video above, at one point I was riding singletrack on a very steep hillside.
The feeling of exposure on this section made it a highlight of the route for me. One small mistake, and you wouldnt be able to stop yourself falling down the hillside. No wonder they had mountain rescue stationed at the bottom of the descent!
In the end I finished the event in just over 5 hours. The GPS stats had shown my moving time to be just over 4 hours. Therefore I had spent approximately one hour not moving. The culprets were resting at the top of climbs, eating food, the food stop itself and playing around with GoPro!
The GPS had also shown I had ridden just over 30 miles, completed 4000ft of ascent and burned 3000 calories. At this point I didn’t need the GPS to tell me that. My body was telling me!
I had done a few mountain bike time trails and rode some downhill races in my youth, but this was the longest, and hardest mountain bike event I had ever done. It took me a few days of recovery for it to finally dawn on me what I had completed.
Bring on the next one! :)