This blog passed its fifth birthday unnoticed, in a flurry of Marilyn Bagging activity with M2. I’ve now realised that fact, as this is my sixth report on the annual mountain biking event - CMBM.
I was faced with a decision as to whether to use ‘Stumpy’, the full suspension bike I’ve had for over a year. The bike is fine, but on rough ground bits tend to fall off it. I could see that conditions would be very muddy, so I chose to take ‘Shogun’ on its 11th CMBM. ‘Shogun’ has closely fitting mudguards. Today that meant that my back stayed clean and dry, whereas most folk looked as if they were encountering severe bowel problems. In fact, a number of few riders politely enquired as to whether I was really taking part in the event, as I was pottered along in clean clothes on the bike that is so ancient that it sometimes gets ‘wow, a classic bike’ comments!
It was a beautiful day, starting with the scraping of thick frost from the car, then fog on the motorway, with mist gradually dissipating after the 9am start, where about 350 of us assembled in Bowood Lane near Sowerby Bridge.
Early sections of the ride weren’t any more muddy than usual, and it was disappointing to find that the rocky descent to Mytholmroyd has been ‘sanitised’, meaning there was no need for anyone to dismount on this previously tricky descent.
It’s a steep climb from New Bridge to the second support point, where I stopped for a while this year. The picture below demonstrates the brilliant performance of those at the support points. Whilst some riders take a break like I did, many just keep going, taking drinks and food from the supporters without needing to dismount. There’s no need to carry a map, as all the significant turns are both signed and in most cases are manned by marshalls. The aim of the event is to present a personal mountain biking challenge, at the same time raising funds for the local Scout group. This year there were two other events taking place on the same day over different routes. We were told to ignore the yellow signs!
After Walshaw Hamlet there’s a steepish climb up to Shackleton Knoll. This year the surface was so slithery that I didn’t see anyone managing the ascent without needing to dismount, though I’m sure the leaders managed fine. Here’s Scott Oddy near the top of the hill, where the gradient eases.
Looking back down the hill, many of those in the picture are walking up the steeper sections, where the ground this year was too smooth and slippery to gain traction.
After this there’s a long bumpy descent – one of the sections where Shogun’s lack of suspension means that I’m comparatively slow compared with most riders. Then, after a pleasant road section, comes the crux of the ride, the moorland crossing culminating in the technical descent from Midgley Moor, where most of the event photos are taken. Click here (for a limited period) if you want to view images of bikers in all manner of weird positions and thoroughly coated in mud. Robert and I look relatively sensible compared with many others!
Whilst neither Robert nor I fell off, we found it very difficult to avoid the foot deep slurry of peaty puddles across the moor. The waterproof lining in my well used Keen trail shoes (see footnote) proved to be up to the job, combined with close fitting ankle gaiters, and my feet stayed comfortably dry, albeit coated in slurry from a misjudged pond crossing.
It was a particularly tiring morning, and for the first time in eleven years, albeit with nobody in sight behind me, I walked up the start of the steep hill to the finish. In fact, I followed a large group who were all also walking. But I finished in the saddle…
Then it was into the routine of enjoying some tea and soup, collecting the t-shirt and finisher’s certificate (and this year a Thank You card ‘In appreciation of your support over 10 entries of the CMBM’), throwing the bike into the back of the car, a quick change, and a celebratory beer with Robert at The Church Stile Inn, where we stood outside with our beers, cheering on the people still approaching the finish. In this case, Alistair Murphy.
As you can see, it remained a lovely day. Who says the weather is always bad in the UK? They are wrong.
Winner – 2 hrs 6 min – 332 finishers – slowest 5 hrs 35 min
Robert: 3 hrs 1 min – 88
Martin: 3 hrs 37 min – 183
Here’s the Garmin gadget version of the route:
A footwear note:
This year I used my Keen Targhee 11 Walking Shoes for the second time. These are now nearing the end of their days after 1400 km of walks and numerous bike rides. I used them together with close fitting ankle gaiters and Sealskinz socks which in the event weren’t needed, as the shoes and gaiters combined withstood the substantial barrage of water and slurry. My feet stayed perfectly dry. Robert witnessed the peeling off of the outer layers. So, more plaudits for these splendid Keen shoes.