Whilst I have been taking a short holiday off running to give a foot niggle a chance to recover, I have been really enjoying the hills by Mountain Bike. So as an alternative to doing the Clougha race this Saturday, myself and several other harriers looking for a bit of fun and adventure took to the saddle on the Ingleton MtbO, this years was an extra big challenge; a 5 hour course taking us as far afield as Barbondale and Dentdale. The event took place alongside the Overground / Underground festival.

It was nice to see we had a good mix along from the harriers – Aaron Campion and James Maxwell paired up, James Annan and Julia Hargreaves were going by tandem, Sharon MacDondald took to the CX bike (brave), Gary Allsopp (who needed another bike to add to his stock of 13) and myself on my trusty 29er.

Weather on the day was dull with hill fog and drizzle, not the best forecast for 5 hours of riding, but nether-the-less we had to get on with it!

So to the ride – a good course over my favorite Yorkshire Dales trails – we are so lucky to have this on our doorstep! For me it was interesting, when I first had sight of the controls map I suspected the course may just be clearable – which is good I think from a course planning perspective, also the geography and positions of the controls meant route planning was quite easy, helped probably for me as I am local and know the area really well. So what this means is that you have to go for everything from the outset and this changes the dynamics considerably. Afterwards I noticed my main competition – Andy Conn (a GB rider and recent bronze M40 medal winner at the European MTBO Championship in Portugal) had dropped the two controls near Wharfe, I reckoned these were worth getting at this early stage, with options of then dumping the far NW controls or the far SW controls later on. As it happened time went well for me out there, despite the poor weather the ground was still firm, quite fast to roll over and I was having a good ride, with super-fast navigation. It was only when I hit the rough stuff on the track going along from Barbondale into Kingsdale, I started doubt my ‘go-for-all plan’, if you have ridden it you will know it – the worst trail in the Dales! I knew it was rough going but this time it seemed worse still, it was quicker to shoulder the bike and run CX style. A slight headwind slowed things down in Kingsdale, so with only 50 min left to go from here, I decided the SW 5 pointer at Thornton would get dropped. Time was still tight for those up Chapel-le-Dale and once up there I made the big gamble to get the Ribblehead 25 pointer – it worked, just. I was late back by 9 min (which means -15pts), my progress in this critical final stage was slightly hampered by a CRO kafuffle at the bottom of Whernside and again coming into Ingleton – I decided over-taking the slow ambulance was not appropriate, despite my rush.

I met most of the harriers while out on the ride (for a quick yell and a wave) and a few afterwards -its great to discuss routes and all the what-ifs! I did not see the two lads (Aaron and James) – but hopefully they I had a good ride…? – I know they were late back (getting their monies worth!) so not sure if they had had a mechanical or puncture…? Also I was a little shocked with the stats of the ride, for me it was 59.9 miles (plus 1 mile bike-hike!) and 6400ft of climbing … And the gamble paid off as I managed to win with 505/525 points.

For me a week to rest before I need my running legs to work for Snowdon, Scafell and Ben Nevis on the Three Peaks Yacht Race – we have a title to defend and I am praying my foot holds up! I am teamed up with the Old Wrinkly’s sailing crew and Stuart Walker (despite the name is a pretty quick runner!)