Monday, 13 January 2014

2012- The Brecon Beast

We did think about camping but I really couldn't face not sleeping in my own bed and I did have lots of stuff to do on Saturday anyway. So the downside was I'd have to be up at 4am. Back in the Summer when my baby pheasants first arrived, 4am starts with 11pm finishes were common but for the last month, I had been getting up nearer to 6:45am but I needn't have worried- I was so excited I woke up five minutes before my alarm.
Cramming some wheetabix down my still-asleep throat whilst the toast cooked, I checked over my stuff. 3L Camelbac filled with water, 500ml water bottle filled with Tomato Soup (thats 3 of your five a day right there ) and the 750ml bottle filled with Lucozade Sport. 

The night before, I'd gone out to put my bike rack on the truck and found this:

Now, having had a puncture in the week, my first thought was that I must have missed a thorn in the tyre. However, it was a funny looking tear on the inside of the aged tube. So I mended it, reinflated the tube to check it, refitted it and re-inflated the tyre. Then "psssssssssssssssssssssst" it suddenly deflated itself.
Stripping it out again, I found another totally random split. It was looking like the tube was knackered but I persisted one more time. The same thing happened.
Ok, no biggy, I had a spare tube so I fitted it and brill, everything stayed up.
The downside was obviously we were now doing the Beast with one spare tube between us, not two. The upside was, I had room in my tool pouch for a mahoosive grab-sized bag of peanut MM's

By the time we reached Brecon, I had a fair few butterflies. The moutains looked big and combined with Lewis's stories he was recounting from last year I thought I definately wasn't going to be fit enough to push for the kind of time I wanted. I'd jokingly text him all week about a target time of 4hours!!! Having now done it, I know that 4h could be within my grasp but also not for reasons i'll mention.

Arriving at the carpark, there was a nice chilled out vibe and some serious £££££££ of kit on display. Shimano XT cranks goaded me from every bike rack as if to say "how dare you insult our mechanical perfection by bringing some 10 year old deore shit to this prestigious event!" however I pretty soon learnt that a guy with strong legs on a crappy old GT can outrun many a fancy Kona, Cannondale or Cube.

The organisation was faultless. Much better than anything comparable from other sphere's that i've been to (horse shows, dog trials etc). All the marshalls were so helpful and friendly- a real credit to the integrity of the event (all the proceeds go to charity). With our numbers issued without a hitch, we scrawled our emergency contact details on the back and went back to get the bikes out of the van. Lewis was constantly taking piss out of my bottle of 'Tommy soup' (I thought it was inspired genius!) 

The weather was awesome. Bright, with the feel of a good day ahead but not too hot and this was true most of the day.
We were here, we were ready and we were on time. We rode our bikes over to the sports pitch for the start and it was still only 08:25. The tannoy was quite hard to hear if you weren't actively listening for it and we got chatting to a couple of guys who were there individually and looking for a bit of company to help the nerves. At this point, I flukely overheard the announcer say that the Beast was starting from the layby, not the sports field this year so I got Lew's attention and suggested we got up front. Last year, him and his brother made a decision to start right near the back 'out of the way' and paid dearly with hold ups at the first off road section. 

So we blagged ourselves within 10 people of the front:

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