The Black Mountain Stage Race kicked off yesterday with a 10.5 kilometre timetrial around the grounds of the Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons. Riders were given no start order and instead could start their timetrial anytime between 5pm and 8. I got there reasonably early which meant the course had no racing line worn in but did have the advantage that the very few muddy patches hadn’t turned messy!
With the last timetrial I completed being that 1200 metre climb up to the mountain top finish in Austria we thought yesterday would be easy. We were wrong! A timetrial is only as hard as you make it as you decide what pace to ride, Josh elected to ride at warp 4 (zone 4) and me at warp flat out! An average heart rate of 181 bpm for 30 minutes gave my body something to think about.
The course didn’t give much time to recover. Riders completed 2 circuits of a loop which was essentially a climb beginning on fireroad and turning onto grassy doubletrack before topping out and spitting you into the rocky, rooty singletrack reward. Along the fireroad climb my heart rate was maxed out and then I hit the steeper grass bit of the climb (can you feel the pain, my legs could). The descent really was a reward though and provided enough incentive to do the climb again. With only 1 tiny mistake I was pretty happy with my time and new I couldn’t have gone any faster.
Josh had a little less luck slicing a tyre on rocky fast part of the descent and therefore loosing time as he stopped to make the necessary repairs. Matt flew off the line looking like a real contender to take a top time, however after a delayed return to the start area it was obvious something has happened. A broken mech hanger has halted Matt’s effort. Matt grabbed hold of the only bike available which was Josh’s extra large full suss with unfamiliar 29er wheels and then the organisers allowed Matt to restart his timetrial.
After all this Matt put in a fantastic time of 32 minutes to take 4th place overall after stage 1. I took the overall lead for the TORQ team with a time of 28 minutes. Today’s second stage is a 65 kilometre race through the Welsh hills.