Getting Muk’y in the Chilterns – 13th May

The day started early, with a sausage sarnie breakfast. Car loaded, I was heading South towards London by 7.30. I’d decided to change the distance I was doing from the killer 132k (82ish miles) to the 74k (44ish). The distance changed as I’d decided to do it on the Mukluk, and very long distances on it were a step into the unknown. Best start small and work up rather than go in at the deep end. It also fitted nicely as Norbert was doing the 74 too and I was staying at his caravan Sunday night and watching Man City win the Premiership (well that was what he said)

With the 50mph speed limit on the M1 I eventually got to the start at 9, just after the 100k riders had left. They’d staggered the start this year with the 132ks going at 8.30, 100k at 9 and 74k at 9.30. The 132k GTers were long gone, but as I pulled into the event HQ I spotted Norbert, JamesH and Richard. Park the car, unload the bike and back round to register.

By 9.15 we were hanging about waiting for the start. There wasn’t many people hanging about, and a small trickle of riders were setting off, so we decided we’d start too. The event HQ had changed from last year, but we very soon picked up last years route which took us up and over the M25 and out into the countryside.

I won’t do a running commentary of the ride as to be honest it’d be great singletrack, short road, stunning singletrack, road……..etc. let’s just say it’s a really good course, and this year they pretty much (well the 74 at least) ran it in reverse to 2011.

JamesH got a puncture at about 5 miles, we eventually dropped Richard, who was struggling with fitness after being off the bike since his off at Haughmond Hill. Norbert got dropped with about 5 miles to the food stop, where we saw him again.

I lost JamesH about 8 miles after the food stop, he just dropped back. I looked back a couple of times, but he didn’t seem in trouble. I presumed his legs had gone as we’d been running at quite a pace. Turned out he’d got a slow puncture, and the tyre was dragging and slowing. He’d tried to shout but I was too far ahead. He ended up having a 3rd puncture too, a bit like my puncturefest on the event last year.

I rode for a bit with a couple of blokes from CATS mtb club who do some of the Friday Night Summer Series races. Up until a rider directly in front thought he’d taken a wrong turn so stopped dead. One of the CATS riders swerved to avoid him and somehow went over the bars. He hit the ground hard. My immediate thought was “that’s his collarbone gone” but after a few minutes he got up and was OK to carry on, apart from his tubeless tyre that was hanging off the rim. His mate set about fixing it as I left them. I saw them later at the finish and he looked very scuffed up.

Another incident took place at the finish. I’d started riding in a loose group that included two Londoners. One seemed OK, the other was a bit of an obnoxious tosser to be honest. Full of his own importance. Could talk the talk, but when it came to riding he was…….. Well, crap really. Couldn’t descend for toffee, and at the start of a climb he’d muscle his way to the front and rapidly start blowing out of his arse. After a while I managed to drop them on my “bike with stupid wheels” (a Mr Obnoxious comment). Strange how my stupid wheels could turn faster than his very expensive (so he kept pointing out) ones……

Anyway I ended up tagging along having a good chat with a bloke on an old retro bike, who’d also had enough of hearing Mr Obnoxious. We crossed the M25 and didn’t know if we had to retrace our route out or head straight down the road. Mr O and his mate turned up with his “top of the range GPS” and told us it was road all the way back. So we headed for the finish with Mr O….. Struggling to keep on the wheel.

We turned into the road to the event HQ and Mr O announced he’d “saved some” for the sprint to the finish. Off he went, his mate started to chase him, then stopped, he probably couldn’t be arsed.

With a crowd outside the event HQ Mr O decided he’d jump the speed hump in front of the building and treat his adoring fans…… By the time he got to it he was tiring and had started throwing his bike violently from side to side…… Then he hit his take off ramp…… And forgot to stop the side to side bit…… He threw his weight to the left in mid air.

The sound of an expensive mountain bike sliding along tarmac was horrible…… The sight of Mr O landing on his side, then sliding under a parked SAAB estate was peachy. When extracted from under the car he seemed OK, if very secondhand……

The Mukluk ride great, and to be honest the 100k would have been easily doable. It has it’s weaknesses sure, but it also has it’s strengths. Descents are a riot as the big floaty tyres just roll and roll. Soft mud isn’t a worry as it rides over the top rather than ploughing a groove like a standard tyre. The only time I had issues was in wet runny mud (like the Enduro 6 water splash stuff) but as long as you don’t try and do anything too quick you’ll be OK. Overall I’d say it’s easily as fast as a thin wheeler.

Oh, and Man City won the Premiership like Norbert said…… But my god did they leave it till the last minute!

Ride – #80     Bike – ’12 Salsa Mukluk

Miles – 45     Total 2012 miles – 1685.6

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