If you going to drive all the way up to Selkirk for the British Marathon Champs you may as well visit the Dales, the Highlands and the Lake District a well right?…
A couple of weeks ago we set off early one Wednesday morning on our way to Yorkshire for the first few days of a well earned break. We headed up first to York for lunch and to visit my friends bike cafe and workshop, “Your Bike Shed”. Triathlete and Road Racer, Martin Harman, set up the cafe/workshop with his business partner at the end of last year and has put a massive effort in to get both sides of the business working well and it’s clear they’ve done a brilliant job.
On from York we headed over to the Dales to spend a couple of days riding bikes, running and “green-laning”. Even with some pretty damp conditions we managed to squeeze all of that in plus a nights wide-camping. Speaking of wild camping, it doesn’t get much more wild than Selkirk on a Friday night, which is where we headed next.
We avoided the local Scotish wild-life and got a fairly early night, after servicing both the bikes ready for a very wet Saturday race-day morning. The National Marathon Championships have been in Selkirk for the last few years and I’d heard good things so I was excited to get stuck in. After the neutralised road section out of town the first gravel climb did much to shuffle up the pack, before the fun stuff started. This was followed by a section of moorland which forced us on and off the bikes and then a bonkers downhill – big smiles!
The rain jacket went into the back pocket of my jersey as we made our way over to the Yair Forest for the second loop. This included three fairly major singletrack climbs where I’d make up time, shortly before losing it all again on the downhills! Hard work, but the best was yet to come as we headed over to Innerleithen for the mammoth climb up to Minch Moor – one of my favourite climbs due to it many false summits. The knowledge of having done this climb before made the difference as I started to overtake people again!
The race back down to Selkirk was punctuated by having to stop four or five times to gas up my rear tyre, which I’d clouted one too many times up on top of the moor. This saw me yo-yoing with four other riders, but with the finish in sight I kept it all together to mix it up in the sprint for 48th, which (even though BC put me down in 49th place) I won. All in all I was happy with a top 50% finish, firstly because of the frankly awesome course, and also due to the fact that I’m still working my way back from the winter’s injuries. Good day out in the mud!
After Selkirk we packed up the tents and headed for the warmth and security of a little Sheppard’s hut in the Great Glen, just up the road from Fort William. It made the perfect little base for a hike up Ben Nevis on day one and a few laps of the World Cup XC course on day two. Hiking into the snow put smiles on our faces and the world cup course never fails to make me grin too. All that was left after this was the drive home, which we thought we’d break up with a drive down the side of Windermere in the lakes – a good couple of hours away from the motorway was time well spent before rushing back to work the following day! Now, where’s next?
Photos by Glen Whittington and Andy Upton
- Dan Fleeman – 3:44:29
- Ian Field – 3:44:31
- Nick Craig – 3:46:18
48. Glen Whittington – 5:00:30
Glen rides a Colnago Master and races a Scott Addict at local road races, both available via The Velo House. He races a KTM Aera Pro 27.5 hardtail in the UK National Points Series and the Eastern XC Series. He used to race it in the Southern XC Series. He receives personal sponsorship from Helly Hansen, KTM and THE.ÆIGHT.BICYCLE.CØMPANY. He’s also supported by Lazer helmets.The KTM team is supported by Continental Tyres, Torq Fitness and Four4th Lights.