After several weeks of pursuing tarmac related bike activities I stepped back into the mud on Sunday at Dark and White Events Three Counties MTB Marathon.
Now MTB events appeal to me because its in my blood and also because I am a big fan of:
- Bikes with nobbly tyres
- Fresh air and rugged terrain whatever the weather
- Getting up at 5.30 am on a Sunday morning.
Alright I lied about point number 3 but if you want to combine 1. and 2. then sometimes 3. wants to get involved as well.
The 3 Counties MTB Marathon is named due to it straddling Derbyshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire and follows trails and minor roads taking advantage of the wonderful terrain that this corner of England offers. It started and finished in Buxton from where it immediately headed south to where I was lying in wait in the small village of Hollinsclough. My abiding memory of Hollinsclough will be trying to find it whilst driving down a lane approximately two inches wider than my car directly into a fierce sunrise which made a pincer movement by also bouncing up off the wet tarmac in attempt to lure me to a lonely rural death by sending me into an oak tree/stray deer/speeding tractor.
Having survived this ordeal I parked up and followed the course to a good viewing spot. Its obligatory in this type of event that my first batch of shots involves an uphill. I like to capture pain, suffering and, if I am lucky, tears. I guess this penchant for sadism owes something to my childhood although no one incident springs to mind.
Around two hundred competitors undertook the challenge in favour of a Sunday lie in and as they crossed a footbridge and made their way up to the road in Hollinsclough it was apparent that only the strongest would make it up my chosen ascent whilst still astride their mount. The majority had to be content with either pushing or carrying their bikes whilst slip sliding away in the mud. Quite a few of the usually jolly crowd were heard uttering curses of a decidedly agricultural nature at this juncture. Fitting.
After capturing the pedestrian action at Hollinsclough i made my way to the edge of Macclesfield Forest just in time to capture most of the riders coming through. This time the terrain allowed them all to actually be riding their bikes, now there’s a novelty! This popular location was heavy with dog walkers, hikers and families enjoying the fine autumn weather and remarks were made by them as to the courtesy and friendliness of the riders. I am not sure that at this stage of the ride I would have been so convivial so fair play to them.
Having spent about four hours out on the course and hopefully taken a shot of most, if not all of the riders I got back to the car and set off for home. There may have been some riders still out on the course by the time I sat down to edit my shots, it wouldn’t be the first time, and I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of jealousy that being behind the camera prevented me from tackling a very challenging route that 200 other off roaders had the pleasure (may not be the appropriate adjective) of doing.
Next Sunday I turn out for Dark and White Events again. The Wildest Peaks Trail Run will not be sparking any jealousy that is for sure!