Battle on the Beach

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Things I love…..

My Kinesis ATR Tripster

Wales

Unusual races

Loud cycling outfits

Now sadly there aren’t many way to combine all of the above so when the chance arises it’s always good to jump on it. A.Cycling run by Matt and Nia Page put on a few events which really appeal to me, this time it was the second instalment of Battle on the Beach.

Battle on the Beach is held down on Pembrey Sands in South Wales, I must admit, it’s a bit of a pig to get to, especially if you go on the train, then the train you want gets cancelled so you have to come in via Bristol and Swansea from West Yorkshire. It did give me the chance to tick off Constitution Hill from my climbs list while I waited for the train. n.b best attempted without a rucksack whilst wearing jeans!

Anyway, back to the race. Having spent the previous week working on the EveryDay Training camp in Lanzarote it would be interesting to see if my legs would wake up. Rather than training, I spent most of the week deciding what to wear and watching the weather, the new Morvelo spring/summer range is out, and quite frankly, it’s amazing. After a very difficult decision which came down to which outfit had matching socks I decided on the Display Nth series jersey and shorts with the Point arm and leg warmers. The sun was shining so I finally took the aeroshell off my Lazer Z1 helmet. I’ll leave you to decide if I’m being serious! 11053298_631181876981505_5927975457972438369_o

My poor ATR Tripster is in dire need of some springtime loving and a new drivetrain, a winter of wet muddy grinding riding has left it’s thick/thin front ring as thin/thinner, however I couldn’t quite bring myself to replace it all then dunk it in the fluffy sand of the dunes. I polished everything anyway and hoped for one last race on it.

Battle on the Beach is a wonderful race for many many reasons, it’s super friendly, people travel from far and wide, it’s a great chance to see loads of people all at once. There’s an enormous display of every kind of bike you can think of, Fat Bikes, Thin Bikes, MTB, CX, Semi-skimmed tandem, Adventure bikes and SillySpeeds, sorry I mean SingleSpeeds! IMG_2846

After a race briefing we made our way onto the sand, I hid at the back with Phil the Horse and Katie, such a mad feeling to be in the glowing hot sun with 600 other beach racers. Poor Phil was left holding the bikes as Katie had a nervous wee and I had an outfit change and lost the leg warmers. A drone flew above as the countdown boards marched up and down the startline counting us down.

3- 2 -1 GOOOOOOOOOO!

A bonkers surge of ridden fatbikes, runners with cx bikes and everything in-between stringing it’s way out into a ribbon of wheels down the beach. Knowing that starts aren’t my strong point, nor riding soft sand I ran quite a way. As the huge peloton strung it’s way out I moved to the lower faster sand and pedalled past loads of people, down in the drops with it’s big fat 40mm WTB Nano tyres the ATR Tripster sure does shift when you want it to. The sound of sand grinding into the drive had started to get louder……IMG_2868

After the long drag up the beach the race turns inland, through an old military base, down gravel tracks before winding it’s way into the single track which dances all round the pine woods. A truly beautiful place to race, sunlight pouring through the trees. A couple of bottlenecks on the first lap but the riders just laughed and got on with it, really nice to see. Past the finish funnel and into the second lap, round the golf course, what was it they said about cycling being the new golf!

Hammering down the beach is such an amazing sensation, the jutting prows of long sunken boats the only features to guide you, scrambling up the sandy dunes between the Union Jack and the Welsh Dragon flags before plunging back into the woods. About halfway round the lap I hear a chirpy voice behind me, it’s Isla Rowntree, now with my lack of cornering ability usually holding me back I assume she’s now lapping me and is off for the win, so as we hit the trees I pull over and watch her dance off round the wiggly single track. What I hadn’t noticed was that she was dancing past on a single speed (albeit minus the pannier rack for once). IMG_2851

As I came through the finish funnel to head out onto the last lap of the race I realised that I hadn’t been lapped by the front of the race, honestly much to my surprise. My poor ATR Tripster however was making the most awful sandy noises, the cassette was jumping about and making the occasional loud bang, accompanied by a chorus of out of tune squeaks. I’m sorry Tripster, you can have some love now you’re out of the sand.

Heading onto the beach for one last time I spot Isla way up ahead, a train of boys at her tail. Hammering up the sand, shouting over to Phil the Horse and Katie as they too galloped up the beach. I finally catch up with Isla and shout ‘tag’, gaining another woman into a female headed mini peloton with the boy bringing up the rear, such fun! Though maybe not on a single speed!

A last dance round the woods, poor Tripster screeching, clunking and banging away, I did wonder at one point if it would actually make it round! Such fun!

Into the finish, 5th Female, very happy with that.

And yes, I have now ordered a new drivetrain.

 

Huge thanks to Huw and Lou for their hospitality. To Matt and Nia for a great race. To Dave and Jase for the lift home and great company. To Ross for snapping away with my phone and to Anthony Pease for the official photographs.

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