12 th June Turnovo Ultra 6 monasteries (Veliko Turnovo) STARS MTB rider Adam Leng 1st Place
We arrived in the Bulgarian city of Veliko Turnovo around midday on Saturday 18th which is always good to arrive the day before so you can get a good rest before the race not having to get up at 5am and make a 4-5 hour journey.
Sunday up at 7:30am for a quick breakfast and coffee, check the bike and lube the bike change into Stars kit and onto the registration.
The race started at 9am with around 60 cyclists for a 43km track passing through 6 monasteries.
A quick hello to a few friends from other clubs who I regularly see from the race circuit and then were off with a police escort for the 1st 1km through the city of Veliko Turnovo ( a lovely city might I add definitely worth a visit). The police escort then pulls aside and off we go I take a position around 5th for the 1st climb as one guy shoots off like a bullet and nobody follows him he is soon caught on the 1st decent a nice flowing single track, but then come to some really steep rocks so its Bike in hand and walk up and around them for a good 100m.
Back on for another nice fast decent having only rode the new bike once before for 30km I was a little worried about my descending on fast single track in and out of the trees but not a single problem it felt perfect flying through them even managing to keep up with my team mate Ilia who is fearless at descending.
After about 15km into the race we came to some train tracks now there were just 4 of us and I could see a long single track climb so thought let’s give it a of gas, after around 2km I looked back and was alone nobody in sight so pushed, the next part of the course was great a mixture of open fields and nice single track in the long grass my old 26 would have struggle but the new bike was just flying through it.
The marking was very good with both arrows sprayed on the road and tape in the trees however after about 30km going up through a small village I saw a rider coming down the other way I thought for a second oh no but then saw an arrow confirming I was on the right track and he had gone wrong somewhere. After passing a lovely monastery I thought I can relax a little take in the lovely scenery don’t make any mistakes at this late stage or risk going hard over the stones. Passing a marshal I asked how long is left he said 5-6km then your onto the road he said there is a rider about a minute in front of you WHAT??? How is it possible as no one has passed me in 25km of riding (turns out the rider cut 3km of the track unintentionally and was later DSQ).
Anyway I motored on at this point to the finish again passing a long field with overgrown grass and by the side of the motorway, now I could see the centre of VT so knew the finish was in site and passed in 1st place in 2hrs 30 minutes.
This is the 1st year of the race and the organizers where very interested to get feedback, the marking was excellent for me although 2-3 other riders seemed to think different , I have been known in certain racers to get lost not this time (even though the gps cut out at 18km) . The only thing that needed to be addressed was at 2 points you fly out of the forest and onto roads and I had 2 nr misses with cars coming up