I am starting my report early because there may not be enough of me after the event to be able to type, think or generally be.
Yesterday, Sunday I along with all the other competitors received an email from the organiser, who shall not remain anonymous and is Nigel Morris. Enclosed in this e were attachments, a map; instructions (six pages, but more of that later) and garmin files, so as not to get caught by any unforeseen rule or route I printed both the map and rules for digestion or indigestion depending on your disposition. The Map came in the for of an ordinance survey map with a knuckle duster of a blue line etching its way across the Isle of Man. I can with loud confidence state that I know the Manx trails very well, 25 years of riding them often has given me a knowledge only a few possess, so I am, therefore qualified to gasp and silently protest to myself as I study the route I am going to take on race day. This will be tough it really will.
The instructions say that we will beginning at the famous grandstand and with police escort head out through Onchan and via the Garey start the first, and quite small climb known as Honey Hill. Then via some fields and a fast road descent to Laxey shore the first of the big climbs begin as we pass King Orrys Grave and head skywards up through the 'Clarum'. A right turn just past the top and you are off down a fast descent and sometimes sketchy into Maughold and a road section which leads to a forest descent into the outskirts of Ramsey. Some more fields eventually give way to climb number two, Skyhill and a descent down the wickedly fast Rollick Road (translated to Road of the Graves, scary). Climb number two up through Ohio Platation is not only very steep but quite long and eventually after a moreland slog brings us out to East Mountain Gate. Crossing the TT course and other moreland crossing brings everyone to a place above Snaefell Mines and a dangerously steep decent to an old mining road. Eventually after rasping along said road which is not easy you end up back again in Laxey. Chance to stock up in the local Co-op here before the arduous road section along Glen Road before a long drag up to the famed Windy Corner and a realization that gravity can be cruel. A quick moreland descent, a road slog and then a technical climb known as St Lukes, the track has a religious name as it makes you prey to the gods that it will finish soon. At the top a massive sigh of relief, some 'gentle' road miles and a chance to make up some miles because at this point you haven't travelled that far! scary. So after a traverse around Black Mountain you drop down into Ballaugh via the old End to End route known locally as Ballacob. Ballaugh Village has a shop, you may need it. Along the disused railway line you go and chance for a breather before Kirk Michael greets you. This next bit is by even the highest standards a lung buster, purgatory hill as sometimes known, but more officially 'The Baltic' and it makes people cry, perhaps literally, but ride up it and you will see. Once at the the end you will nip through a gate and onto the road. Next comes the fairly easy meander that is Glion Gill, early on on the track those opting for the km route turn off over 'Cronk Breck' to the jealousy of the others and a gently ride back to base. For the rest its carry on along Glion Gill, decent the very rough track, which is the 'Dhowse' to be fired out at St Johns. There is another shop here and hopefully its open on a Sunday. I have lost count of the climbs by now but if you are still going Slieu Whallian (or Witches Hill in folklore) becomes your next nemesis. In a recurring theme its a beast of a climb that exacts pain on all who dare. The reward is Arrasey Plantation and the first bike park graded descent, its ace. Some more climbing (just for a change) brings you out at Point 119 (locally) or Cronk Ny Ara Laa (you may see riders here coming up from Ballabeg and Earystane Plantation). Another graded and fast descent eventually puffs you out at the southern most point Colby. The climbing starts again up Ballafodda, a lane generous with its thorn bushes and doesn't stop gaining height until the aforementioned point 119! you have just rode in a painful circle. gently descending you end up at the top of Cringle Plantation and a track known for obvious reasons as the Whisky Run (you may well want to get very drunk at this point). One of the best mountain bike graded trails next through Cringle, but watch out you will be tired and one mistake could be fatal so don't lose concentration because believe it or not you are nearly there! Some more plantations, the odd gentle climb and the Old Castletown Road brings you to Santon and the top of a magical trail. You are very nearly there just a short spin down a track and across a stream, this is the magical bit as next to the stream is an old bridge, or more locally the 'real' fairy bridge. Anyway at the end of this track you are there, done, well nearly but not quite. You have to get back to the start/finish at the grandstand, Congratulations!! I reckon give or take 15 hours to ride that lot, the winner probably a lot less but for me, who is a seasoned long distance rider I reckon 15 should just about do it.
OK I am off for dinner so more later on the instructions.