I think it was way back in 2013 when I last competed in the Selkirk MTB Marathon. Back then it was hardcore. 75km's of brutal, unrelenting single track through the Scottish Borders. I remember at the end of it being distinctly pleased to have just made it home the last time I rode this event. So, when a banner ad flashed across the front of my computer on a rather slow Monday morning depicting entry for this very event, I must of had a lapse of memory and I went ahead and entered it again. However, gone are the days of the 75km monster. In its place, the organisers, Durty Events now give riders the option of a 25km or 50km route.
Now I'm not one for long distances, really. I do enjoy a big day out but climbing is very much a means for descending as far as I'm concerned. The kind of lovely people you meet at a MTB Marathon are often lycra clad, carbon XC bike riding, sadomasochists who enjoy punishing themselves on the climbs in pursuit of that elusive Strava KOM. So when I turned up in baggy shorts, riding an aluminium hardtail sporting big, knobbly tires, I got some strange looks.
The route took in a fantastic mix of natural singletrack, twin-track forest roads, ancient drove roads, hand-made singletrack, and trail centre. It meandered its way up, along, down and through the tweed valley. 50km's of beautiful, but tough riding.
I must confess, I set off a little too exuberantly and paid for it later on in the day. Officially the Selkirk MTB Marathon is a "sportive" type event, i.e non-competitive. But that is simply untrue. Put any self respecting mountain biker up against the clock and you can be sure they will try there damm hardest to finish the course as soon as they can. In a race against not only the clock but also themselves and their fellow competitors, even if if its for nothing more than bragging rights at the pub after the event. This is a competitive event.
But I know my place. I race enduro most of the time which requires a completely different approach than that of long distance XC riding so I was just here to enjoy the views (read : to get the best time I could). The sun was high in the sky and despite getting overtaken on most of the uphills by the aforementioned lycra clad sadomasochists, I was able to make some time up on the descents.
I was able to make it home in 03:23:43 which I was pretty happy with. All in all a good day out and some good training for the next Scottish Enduro Series coming up soon. Big thanks to all the Durty Events team for the excellent organisation and to Cycle Law Scotland for their support this year.
See you on the trails,