Saturday, 29 March 2014

46. Cycling - Mountain Bike - Cross Country

Event: Cycling - Mountain Bike - Cross Country
Date: 19th March 2014
Location: Rendlesham Forest Mountain Bike Trail
Cost: £3.30 for the car park 
Rules: Mountain biking was introduced to the Olympics in 1996 as the cross-country event. All riders start together and race over a course with each lap between 3-6km; the first over the finish line is the winner. The riders compete over a specified number of laps, determined at the latest two hours before the race starts to determine the optimum finishing time. The decision depends on the track and weather conditions. The course is marked and covers a variety of terrain with constant changes in elevation and difficulty. The course should include forest roads, tracks, earth and grave paths. Paved or asphalt roads should not exceed 15% of the total course.

The Event:


Olympic Gold, London 2012: 1.30.52, 17.9 mile course, Julie Bresset, France.
Ellie and Sarah: 1.29.00, 10 mile course.  

Sarah: We didn't need too much preparation for this one, other than dusting off our bikes and borrowing a bike rack. As the Olympic distance is decided on the morning of the race (surely one of the only events to operate like this?!), we had a bit of flexibility with our distance, and decided to ride the 10 mile route around the forest. Our trail was much easier in terrain than the Olympic course, with an absence of steep inclines or teeth-rattling downhill slopes, but we had really varied terrain and a few uphill sections. Many of my childhood holidays were spent caravanning around UK forests and parks, and I had forgotten the feeling of freedom when speeding through the trees on your bike, bumping over mud tracks and roots. I'll definitely be investing in my own bike rack and checking out the other mountain bike trails around East Anglia. 

Ellie: The way in which we completed this event was beautiful. A lovely forest in fine weather. Trees, pigs and a military base... what could be better? We even had M&S Percy Pigs for a burst of energy (Other pig shaped sweets are available).

What I should have anticipated was that, as I'm totally unused to cycling, parts of body would suffer. I've never had pins and needles downstairs and I don't recommend it... and the last two miles were an absolute nightmare but the fresh air and camaraderie made it all worthwhile. I doubt Olympic competitors stop to look at piglets though and the balance needed and the trust placed in your machinery makes this another complex and interesting event especially as your not 100% certain of your race length before the day. 
Mountain biking also must be one of the most age accessible sports - a great number of children have bikes and do this sort of thing every weekend! Rendlesham Forest has bicycles for hire for those who don't. I would put this firmly on a list of events to do again... perhaps remembering to wear padded trousers next time.

We took the green 'FIDO Trail' route

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