Chepelare MTB 23/24th July 80KM MTB XC
Unfortunate technical issues, Dry, Hot and Hard
My 1st time in Cheperlare which I found to be a lovely town in the Rhodope mountains around 10km from the ski resort of Pamporovo .
We set of early Saturday morning to spend the night in Chepelare as the race started at 06:00, I had no idea what to expect apart from others racers telling me it’s very difficult and hot.
The day before we did a little training ride of one of the tracks the course is 4 different tracks each were 17-22km long. I knew from that ride tomorrow was going to be along day.
I set my alarm for 05:00 to eat a little breakfast and prepared myself then set off to the start line with 76 others riders. Off we went with a police escort through the town of Chepelare at 06:00 the weather was nice and cool then after 1km riding behind the car we came to the 1st track and what MUD and plenty of it. As I knew this was going to be a hard race me plan was to take it easy on the 1st 2 tracks and push on the last 2 which we had been told were the hard ones.
I took up a good position in around 5-6th place for the 1st long climb of around 10km and felt great then came the descending which very wet and rocky so you had to be careful . One thing I seem to be doing is having the tires quite soft as I like the extra grip but big mistake on the last 1km going over some rocks I heard the dreaded hissing noise of air coming from my rear tire side wall the sealant unable to seal it , disaster!
Luckily I was only 1 km to the Service area so I carried on and the very friendly guy at the service area changed the tire but as I got out my spare tube it to had a small hole in, now one of the assistants actually took air out of his tire and gave me his tube, what a nice kind thing to do. So now I pumped up both tires with extra pressure not to happen again and I was away, 25 minutes lost I knew would be very difficult to catch the top 7-8 guys but I carried on regardless the 2nd lap was much easier nice climb and lovely decent I began catching people 6 on the 2nd lap .
3rd lap I really started to push but something was not right with the gears they kept changing by themselves so I was adjusting the barrels trying to get them to behave now on the 3rd lap I was passing more tired racers and really pushing along then about halfway through the lap up the last climb I put it into an easier gear and began to pedal but the gear changed and nothing looked down and the chain was on the floor (flashbacks of Thassos MTB where the same thing happened) not to worry I had a chain link as I was pulling the chain together the the link came out of my hands and into the grass I just could not find it. Luckily Nigel came by and handed me another link quickly assembled the chain and I was back on the trails but again around another 15 minutes lost and all the people I worked so hard to catch had again come by me .
Lap 4 a few riders could not handle it and pulled out on the 3rd lap , I had nothing to lose so I just went for it as much as could the heat was intense but managed to catch 6 riders in what was a really hard lap climbing up to the top of a ski piste in the end 11th place from 77 riders.