The Exmoor Beast 2011

This weekend I took on the ‘Exmoor Beast’ sportive with my friend Gatesy. This was a 100 mile Sportive in Exmoor National Park where we encountered a wide variety of weather conditions on the muddy roads across the moors. I had been suffering from a couple of minor injuries leading up to the event – a slight back sprain and pain to the foot I had broken a couple of years ago. The sort of injuries you don’t want nagging you during an 8 hour cycle … so I gave myself a good week of rest leading up to the event.

The first major challenge to overcome was setting an alarm clock to wake us at 4am on the night when the clocks went back. Every device I owned with an alarm was designed to be self-regulating and adjust itself to a time change. Not wanting to put my faith in modern technology I decided to set a countdown timer and rely on my mathematical ability to calculate the correct time difference.

One piece of modern technology I was glad to own was a brand new Garmin Edge 800 bike-nav. This was a generous birthday present from my whole family arranged by my wife. Prior to the event I had downloaded the course map and was able to monitor every upcoming hill on the event. Every single nasty hill! They don’t call it the Beast for nothing…

It was a great day out and we completed the course in under 8 hours including stoppages at the well-organised feed stations for bananas, hot soup and the ubiquitous cyclist’s flapjack. Our actual moving time was 7 hours & 13 mins although I think the Garmin was registering my first disastrous hill as ‘moving’ rather than slipping off on a cattle grid and then walking the last 100 metres to the top. Who puts a cattle grid on an ascent? In total we climbed over 9000 feet, i.e. almost 3000 vertical metres over the gruelling course.

We reached the finish line at Butlins, Minehead exhausted, satisfied and very very muddy.

A great day out and definitely one to go back for next year.

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