Words: Mathew ‘Maff’ Wall
Pics: Maff wall and #supbikerun
So it’s deepest darkest winter, the new calendar is on the wall looking a little bare, the fixture lists are coming out for UKSUP, #supbikerun, etc. I start looking at the map to see where each event is and the ones I fancy. The first #supbikerun is at Llandegfedd Resevoir in Wales, not too far. Entry opened early and this year with a choice of 2 challenges, Warrior with a 3k sup, 15k mountain bike and a 5k xc run or Barbarian, double the distance! So which one to enter? Obviously Barbarian, stupid fool that I am!
Fast forward to this weekend, jeez that came round quick, the car is all loaded Saturday evening ready for the 6:30am set off in the morning. I arrive to a glassy flat lake, the event village was all set up with the Starboard, Naish and Fanatic tents and demo kit. This year it is an all weekend affair with the Saturday offering sup tasters, yoga, demos, and N1SCO sprints. I scoped out the sup entry and exit points from the lake, then the bike and run ins and outs.
I registered, collecting my number and stickers for my board, bike and paddle. I racked my bike with my trainers and helmet in the transition ready for after the SUP. #supbikerun don’t do a mass start, it’s much more relaxed. Go when you’re ready within a time slot. So with board ‘n paddle in hand I went down to the start line. A marshal advised that as I was doing the Barbarian that I was to do two laps of each leg and due to the bad weather the previous day and that there were two steep descents on the MTB, they suggest we walk the bike to avoid slippery mud and drop offs.
I was ready, well not really, but let’s get this done. I launched into the lake to head out to the first buoy when I see Bryce Dyer coming around the corner for his second lap. I couldn’t believe my luck. I put in a quick sprint and managed to drop in his draft as we exited the mark. I mean he’d just as well give me a tow along the lake while I got warmed up.
We seemed to be flying, carving our way through all manner of race, inflatable and surf shape boards. Coming back down to finish my first lap I wished Bryce luck for the bike as he peeled off to the bank and I rounded the buoy to start my second lap coinciding with the start of the rain. Not just a little rain, no this is Wales. It lashed it down and by the time I had finished the SUP I was drenched.
I arrived at my bike to find the rain had kindly filled my trainers and helmet for me – school boy error. I grabbed my bike and was off for what was not going to be a nice ride in the country. After a steep climb out of the park to warm the legs we turned off for the first of the steep, muddy (understatement) descents which was just a flowing brown river.
I managed to ride about half way down before getting stuck in the mud and joined the queue of people walking their bikes over the worst terrain. Pretty much most of the MTB course was thick sticky mud, I’ve never used bottom gear so much and about 12k in I realised I had to do another lap. Why!? Why did I want to be a Barbarian, a Warrior would’ve been fine!
The second lap was better, the sun was out, the steep descents weren’t flowing like rivers, oh and I didn’t take the detour I had on the first! I was glad to hang the bike back in transition now twice the weight with all the mud. The run, I wasn’t looking forward to.
The first couple of km through the woods on an off camber path wer slippery and at the end of the first lap the finishing arch is in sight, like right there, but no, a sharp left and round one last time. I counted down that last 5km, my legs were starting to cramp but it wasn’t far. I was glad to see that arch coming into sight and finally cross that finish line.
I think that’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done and I’m still in pain now as I’m writing this. That mountain bike was, as I heard so many times on Sunday, ‘brutal’, but everyone you saw had a smile on their face. I must say I enjoyed it and I would do it all over again.
Well done to everyone that took part which ever distance they did, we all earned our Warrior or Barbarian shirts. Big thanks to the #supbikerun crew for putting on a fantastic well organised event.
I am a Barbarian!