BB200 is notorious for crushing riders to a whimpering mess in the middle of a tussock field at 4am on a Sunday morning, but this year it wasn’t me crying it was my bike. So what happened…..?
Everything started so well, pulled the bike out of the garage 2 weeks before the event dusted it off and checked everything still work. The bike hadn’t been ridden since the Highland Trail for various boring reasons I shall not go into detail here. To my delight it worked. I’d order a new wheel set as I was one set down so when they arrived I quickly bunged them on the bike with a brand new set of tyres (can’t put old tyres on new rims, can you?) and went for a quick blast down the local trail. It was great everything worked as it should do and I felt at home, like wearing your favourite socks, the ones with more than one hole, you know the ones.
Everything was ready on Thursday night, packed the car on Friday morning and headed on my way (via work). Work in my head is always fun on a Friday as its ‘Funday Friday’. I’m a bit twisted like that, just the same as every other twisted BB200 rider.
I got to the campsite and didn’t want to setup camp, so I stayed in a camping pod instead, luxury J. I spent a couple of hours fettling my kit (these things always take longer) then went for a quick spin. Disaster. Bottom bracket crunching and grinding, Noooo! Stripped down and the diagnosis was bad, bearing were shot. I packed them with grease, reassembled the bike, still no better. C’est la vie.
Morning broke, eventually. Day light at this time of year is in short supply so final checks were completed under torch light. To the start we go. Great thing about the BB200 is that you rock up have some tea and toast and then set off when you feel like it. I wasn’t in a rush to get going as I felt it was going to be a gently ride to get to the end. 8:31am came and off I went, 200km to go before I get back to the start. The short cut is don’t start but where’s the fun in that. 8:37am, nearly got wiped out by a sleepy farmer, this is going well!
The morning passed nicely for an hour or so with just me and the sound of my bottom bracket failing. Was I going to go insane, no, as I’m already there.
Pedalling along with Matt Harvey, nicely chatting about absolutely nothing (these are the best conversations and Matt is an expert) my crank arm fell off. Trying to repair the bottom bracket the night before I must not of torqued it up correctly, I hoped.
Next problem. First water splash after a lovely sweeping descent, I gave the bloke having a pee in the field a right scare as my rear tyre exploded, sorry! Don’t think he wet his pants but it was almighty close. A slit in my brand new rear tyre. That was painful, less than 40 miles on the tyre. It can be an expensive hobby this mountain biking malarkey and today was proving to be one of those days.
I hadn’t even reached Knighton yet.
Everything passed nice and steady into Knighton. Knighton was a quick stop for water as I was carrying all my food, training for future challenges. So, back on my way. I got into a steady rhythm of riding, pushing, riding, eating, riding, and pushing. The route was fairly fast flowing up to this point. Had Stu gone soft on us this year?
Riding along I suddenly heard a regular tapping from the tyre. This was either going to be a thorn or a stone. Please be a stone! Nope, a thorn. I was tubeless so quickly whipping it out and pedalling fast would hopefully seal the gaping hole it created. Slight inclined problem, I was going uphill. I left the thorn in hoping the tyre wouldn’t completely deflate, and the thorn would stay in until I reached the top of the hill. The hill seemed to go on forever. The noises in my head went crunch, crunch, crunch, tap, tap, tap. Finally the top arrived, I whipped the thorn out and pedalled like billy-o. Success, a few seconds of hissing, then the white stuff did its job. Horary for the white stuff.
Right that’s enough problems for one ride.
The ride continued to be steady going. Good forest tracks, bit of moorland, and bits of the Trans Cambrian Way. A nice ride, with very little hike-a-bike. Easy-peasy.
Although I had all the food I needed the bright lights of Glyndwr’s Way community cafe were too appealing. Soup and a brew, absolutely fantastic. It was nice to catch back up to Matt again. I rode into here with Mike Clarke. If you don’t know Mike, he’s the brummy you could hear gabbing away. Don’t think there’s a hill steep enough to stop him chatting J. I was also envious of Mike’s food regime (he had Donner Pizza in Knighton)!
I didn’t wait around too long as it was so nice and warm.
Off I went again, crikey it was starting to get a bit cold. Up to this point it was a rather warm ride but the temperature started to drop. Stop and layer up. A couple of riders went past, asking if everything was okay. People are so nice and helpful, I love bikepackers!
Off I go again, I was quickly caught by the maestro Alan G. I always get caught by him. We rode together for a while but I started to drop off his back wheel on a steady climb. Found out later on he got to the top of the climb, practically had a 3 course meal then rode off into the distance after I didn’t appear. I was just plodding along, still grinding the bearings down in my bottom bracket.
I arrived at the Star Inn in the early hours, couldn’t tell you what time as it didn’t matter by then. As long as I moved forward then I’d get home. This was the last push to the finish. I caught a lad up who’s GPS had failed. I told him if he wanted to follow me I’d be quiet happy but he’d have to be patient with me as I was going steady. At this point Mike appeared with 2 others in tow. 5 of us pedalling across fields turned into 2 again as Mike and his disciples disappeared into the distance. Finally we arrived at a section I remember from the infamous 2014 route. Grrreeeeaaaattttt.
Descending down any hill at night can be difficult but when you’re tired and the path is rutted makes it near impossible. You get a bit excited when you know how close you are to finishing. I couldn’t keep my front wheel from wondering. Handlebars snaking side to side then, bang. Down I go. I’m alright. Apologise to my follower for being a muppet. Off we go again, bang. Down I go again. I’m okay but the bike isn’t. Brake fluid spews out of the rear brake calliper. This is a steep descent, now with only one brake makes it a nightmare. I am now skittering along to maintain my balance. Finally the road appears. That section was the kind we have come to accept and expect from Stu. He kept us waiting for it. Gave us false hope, and then slammed it in our faces.
I blasted to the finish (or start) as quickly as I could. Made it. Reliability challenged and conquered. When you’re down, you’re not out!
Started at 8:31am, finished at 4:55am. Straight to the car for a sleep.
The aftermath of the bike in the morning (and what remained left of me).
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