10 Under the Ben 2018 , a battle of body and mind – Liz Peacock

The organisers, No Fuss Events, describe this event as “Scotland’s original and best mountain bike event”, which remains as the flagship of the No Fuss Events portfolio.  Its based a simple endurance mountain bike format – a 10 mile lap, raced for 10 hours.  The description goes on to say that the event and the amazing trails around Leanachen forest guarantee a great day’s riding (regardless of the weather) with the emphasis on enjoyment,friendship and a  fun atmosphere.

I have to say that I look forward to the event every year but was slightly apprehensive approaching this year’s event – I had done very little in the way of long rides and was heading off on a mountain bike trip round north Scotland after the event, so needed to pace my effort…
It was a lovely sunny afternoon when we arrived, but evidently the course was pretty wet (from the mud splattered kit and bikes of those who had been out on a lap)… It was similar to the previous year with 3 steep climbs and few places to rest or eat. I decided to save energy and skip a preview lap on the Friday.
Saturday dawned clear but cold!! I was excited to get my Flare race kit on – it was also my first race on my Juliana Joplin, I was strangely calm waiting for the start. We started as is traditional following a piper down the road, then the race was on! 
I have to say that I found the first lap tough – there is always a lot of queuing on lap 1 – especially through the trickier single track sections – but this year the atmosphere was quite hostile, people were impatient and rude – we had 10hours, surely there no need for shouting and swearing as people failed to clean sections – or crashed and were nearly run over by other riders.  
Everything settled down, lap 2 was good, I felt strong and was having fun… but then lap 3 started to hurt- and that pain would last for the rest of the day. The bike was awesome – and my kit was really comfortable… the sun was shining so I stuck in (I confess to also thinking about the amount of food I could eat after I finished based on the number of laps completed). I was in my endurance race routine – lap, pit (eat half a piece of loaf cake, pick up half a roll, change bottle), back out on next lap… I don’t like stopping!
My Garmin mount had failed me – so I couldn’t see any timing info as I rode round – which meant I couldn’t do endless calculations of pacing, how many laps I could do, how fast I was going etc…  It was just me riding my bike round in big circles!
It was half way round lap 4 when I decided that I was really not enjoying the event like I used to – and that this would be my last 10 under.  This then took me on a count down – as I rode each section of the course for the 2nd last and then last time (I had also decided that I had 6 laps of riding in me and then I would be done)… These races do make you play the weirdest mind games!!!
I knew that at lap 3 I was lying second in my age category – and was quite far behind. I did know from previous years that I tended to pick up time as the race wore on (as I didn’t take breaks and many riders do). Near the top of the last climb on my 6th (and final) lap, the rider that I suspected was leading my category rode up from behind me….. I asked how many laps she had done – answer was 6, and that this would be her last lap…  I shared that I was also on lap 6 – but did not share that I too was stopping – well it is a race!!!  In that few seconds of conversation, my competitive instinct totally kicked in. I suspected that I was a stronger descender but that she had been making time on the climbs – I had to get to the top of the final climb in front – nail the descent and just give it my all along the undulating slog back to the finish… I have not sprinted like that for a long long time – very surprised what my body could give after nearly 8 hours of riding (did wonder if I should have tried harder sooner)!! 
I dibbed at the finish and carried on round to our van…. I was done.  There was time for another lap, but I was committed to stopping, to having something left for our holiday – and to not riding in the now freezing and very heavy rain!
After drying out I went to the cafe and checked results- I had won my category by 4 minutes, the effort had paid off… I was pretty tired and sore (and hungry!!).. but looking forward to the holiday that was to follow.  Without going into too much detail, I had no contact point pains – the kit was super comfortable even for that long a day in the saddle (I was well impressed).. 
Am  I really done with 10 Under? I raced the first one in 2006…. but yes, I think I am… Sadly I just didn’t feel the buzz, the atmosphere, the excitement this year – and for me there are other things I can do on my bike that will give me that… The biggest buzz I got was from helping one of my competitors conquer a tricky drop out on course – I truly think that coaching and guiding are now my passion, rather than racing..
Liz Peacock

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