Yesterday I competed in the mountain bike inaugral Wadi Bih Adventure Race, What a great event! www.wadiadventure.com
UPDATE 14/1/2011: results are up https://ianganderton.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/results-for-wadi-bih-adventure-race-are-up/
The event had 2 races. First out of the gate where the 13 teams of 2 competing in the adventure race. The mountain bike leg climbed up Wadi Khabb Shamsi for 35km to an altitude of 1000m before ditching the bikes and continuing on foot to the summit of Jebel Kiwi then returning back to the bikes to finish.
Starting a couple of hours later was the mountain bike event that just raced the 35km to the 1000m high point. There were over 40 competitors and one of them was me.
Now I’m not really the kind of mountain biker that enjoys cycling up hill and as I was sorting my kit I was questioning the wisdom of entering an uphill only event. Even weirder was I started seriously considering entering the duathlon. Fortunately the person I’d most likely have teamed up with didnt have his trainers packed and I was off the hook. Why is it we love to torture ourselves?
For me events like this are as much about the crowd of folks that turn out for them as the event itself. Its a great mix of people, some talented athletes, some not so talented, but all motivated to get up in the morning and facing the challenge of the event with a smile on their face and a positive can do attitude.
The mountain bike race started at a steady pace. My game plan was to take it steady from the start with the aim of not blowing up half way through, which is my normal trick. But in the first half a kilometer I noticed a small peleton form at the front so I put in put in a spurt and made the jump to the group. this proved a good decision as the extra speed I gained before I was dropped got me the jump on a load of folks who didn’t spot the opportunity. it improved my time no end and this reflected in my end placing.
Once I had been dropped I settled into a steady pace. I was by cycling by myself from about the 6km mark all the way up to the steep section at around 25km, my only company was provided by the guys in the support vehicles coming by and taking photos. (Thanks to Adrian of http://www.probike.ae for his).
Wadi Khabb Shamsi is spectacular. The track is has a steady gradient up through the steep water worn cliff sides. For most of the ride I wasn’t having to hunt for shade and was pretty comfortable temperature wise.
At what I estimate to be about 20km (I didnt have a bike computer) the wadi opened up and I caught myself looking for indications of where I might be headed and the finish. This is a psychological road to no where as you’ll either see something that will make you think the finish is closer than it is and be horribly disappointed when it isnt or spot something really high and far away that will just depress you. Fortunately I caught myself and made myself keep my head down, focus on my breathing and grind away as hard as I dare without risking blowing up. I was getting pretty tired at this point and could feel my legs starting to get very heavy.
At around 25km the track really steepens up and climbs at about 23% (apparently) up a series of loose sharp corners. Up to this point I’d been checking behind me every now and then to see who was catching me up but, much to my relief, didn’t see anyone. I was keeping the cushion that extra effort jumping into the front group had brought me. Now just at the bottom of this brutal steepening I heard bike gears changing behind me! Oh no! My heart sank. A quick glance round and I saw 2 cyclists behind me 😦
My energy tank was running pretty low at this point and i just didn’t have enough to keep off the guy who over took me. The track was brutally steep and I was the first of the 3 of us to plump for walking. Once one person walks often the others follow. I heard a clatter behind me and the other rider was lying in the track. It turned out later as we were swapping race stories she’d got caught up in her spd cleats as she’d gone to walk and had the classic but horrible rolling around in the dust experience.
Everything was hurting now, there was nothing good. The sun beat down, my quads cramped, the track was relentlessly steep. I tried cycling, its never good walking, I couldn’t, I cramped up even more and just felt miserable as another ride cycled past much stronger than me. I looked behind me but the girl who’d had the spd fall had fallen back. I put one foot in front of the other until the gradient eased off a bit and I could get back on the bike but the damage was done, I was hurting now.
As I went past Jonathon he shouted “there’s just one girl in front of you, show no mercy!!”
Mercy?!? Mercy was a luxury I could no longer afford, I was hanging in there trying to lose no more places to those behind me. The gradient had easer but my legs were so heavy, I could see the finish line but it was all hurting. I was feeling quite sorry for myself (lol)!!
Crossing the line without losing any more places was the reward though, the harder fought the fight the greater the sense of achievement. I knew I’d done ok and given a fair account of myself. I could now stop moving for a bit, get some fluids down, recover a bit and share race storied with the other riders.
The Duathlon Teams were still out on the run and it seemed quite a while before they started to come in. It sounded like the terrain had been tough. Don’t quite understand why but a big part of me still wishes I’d done that event and as I’m typing this I’m planning to do it next year.
So a great time was had by all. A huge thanks to John Young and the team of folks and sponsors that gave up their time to enable the event to happen, it really is appreciated.
I need to make a particularly big thank you to Damian for lending me his titanium hardtail. I wouldnt have entered on my big clunky Enduro. It really was appreciated
For more details of the event go to http://www.wadiadventure.com and save it in your favourites so you can find it next year.
But more importantly its the infamous Wadi Bih Run coming soon!! http://www.wadibih.com
11 February 2011 – Held every year since 1993 the Wadi Bih Run is the oldest regular expatriate sporting event in the UAE .
There’s a facebook group too – http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=159677900717284
See you there!!