The day started out just like any other Sunday morning in December--cold, but this was no ordinary day. For weeks, people had been talking about and preparing for this day: 32 kilometers, mountainous terrain, 150 plus riders and their machines including me, a novice mtber. In everyday parlance, an mtber is someone who enjoys mountain biking, and that’s me. Mountain biking had been unknown to me for most of my life. I have only recently taken up this exciting pastime, and I never thought that I would actually enter a competition. “What was I getting myself into?” I asked. I thought I was mentally prepared for the race, but was I too old and not ready physically for such a challenge?
At about 4:30 am, a dark Sunday morning and cold skies greeted the mtbers at the train station. One by one, the riders appeared from different streets with night lights on their helmets or bicycles. The luminescent spots of light approaching in the early morning darkness gave an impression that these people were out hunting for worms. No one wanted to get off their bikes as this kept the riders warm. Quick ‘hellos’ were exchanged, and it seemed that none of the riders was in the mood for conversation. Was this the competitive nature being established, or were these people in no frame of mind for a bit of chit chat? Nevertheless, thirty minutes later than our original time of departure, and with all the bicycles loaded onto trucks, people boarded buses that would take them to their moment of glory.
It was 6:00 am, and we were all on our merry way to Kirrirom, a mountain in the Cardamom Range about two hours from the city centre. In the trucks up ahead, a variety of two wheeled transport such as freerides, hybrids, muddy mountain bikes, granny bikes and even some carbon fiber hardtails and full suspension jobs made up the chain-driven mix. I am no Thurston Howle, but I think I had a competitive set up on my Gary Fisher, Joshua F3 full suspension mtb with remote lockout...