So the race is done, bike bags are packed and riders are friending each other on Facebook as they hope to catch up again at other events in the not too distant future. Kath Bicknell checks in with the Enduro blogsite one last time before checking her luggage at the airport. Look out for an in-depth article on the event in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

STAGE SIX:

The night stage.  For many riders at this event, night riding is still a novelty. It requires a different skill set to take in limited information from the trail and necessitates an altered nutrition plan as well.  It’s important to be prepped for the racing, but not so hyped that sleep is difficult on the other side.

A cloud of dust met all but the fastest riders on initial series of fire roads, then the singletrack began in earnest. Overtaking was difficult: long grass and the promise of punctures surround either side of the trail. This first series of tracks allowed the opportunity to look around and admire the train of lights snaking their way through the desert in the dark.

Once riders self-sorted I relished the feeling of flow that comes with well-built trails, a pack of similarly paced riders egging each other on and the zeroed in concentration provided by bright, shiny beams.  On the other side of the finish line riders exchanged stories from the trails, ran off home to escape the cold and prepped their bikes one last time for the following day.

 Video footage from the night stage

STAGE SEVEN:

When my alarm went off on Friday morning I felt like I could have slept for two more hours. The idea of another day of gels, bars and electrolyte drink didn’t have me quite as amped as it did earlier in the week, but I knew I’d miss it as soon as I crossed the line for the final time.

The race started with a familiar burst of speed as riders powered along to the promise of more sweet singletracks ahead. When people have struggled with line choice and obstacles on previous days, they would unclip, put a foot down and other riders could sneak passed on an outside line.  Today, everyone in my section of the pack was so tired that a bad line choice seemed to send bikes sideways blocking all other lines as well. There was a lot of encouragement out there between new friends and old, many of whom had passed by each other repeatedly through the event.

Climbing up a steep fire road after a couple of hours in the saddle, a local rider told me there was about 4kms of downhill singletrack to go.  I was so excited to finish, but a little bit sad as well. The week had been full of eye-opening, jaw-dropping experiences and I wondered what other folk do to get such a big feeling of satisfaction if their hobby is different to the one that brought me here. I crossed the line, climbed off my bike and lay on the grass soaking up the warm, winter sun.

For a great gallery of the week’s racing have a look at Tim Hill’s fantastic images

I’ve gone light on details of results in these posts, but head over the event website or marathonmtb.com  for more details, quotes and insights from the pointy end of some of the tightly contested categories. This event is unique in the ways it introduces so many people with a shared passion to a very special place. If you have the chance to come along one year, lock it in and get ready for an amazing ride.

Thank you again to Rapid Ascent for the images, and thank you most of all for putting the infrastructure in place that let the stories above and below unfold. I hope you all had an exceptional week as well.