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OM Black Mountains, 29 & 30 April 2017

 First Place: Mark McPhillips

First Place OMM April 2017

BEFORE

As we (Maggie and I ) arrived in the Black Mountains the clouds dispersed leaving enough starlight to set up camp on Friday night. Then it was down to the marquee to sign on, check the map and catch up with familiar faces.

First impressions were that the map was riddled with tracks and mountains. The more we looked at the map the more we realised that it was going to be a very hard event.

DURING

I'm 5hrs into a 7hr stage riding down an endless stretch of singletrack looking out for a former gateway in a wall corner. The trail steepens slightly and a few bumps & lumps get the bike feeling light and floaty.

I see a small wooded area just below that I was using as my 'catch' feature. I slow down and turn around and head back up the mountain. I ride for a couple of minutes before seeing quite clearly a 'former gateway in a wall corner'.

A difficult balance of speed, awareness and risk taking is the key to success. It's took a long time for these skills to combine together so well but it's still rare to get all three just right.

THE DISAPPOINTMENT

 The scoreboard is harsh, I'm in 3rd position, 50 points down on the leader Ian Cartwright and 4 points behind Ifor Powell.

THE TOP of a MOUNTAIN...

A long tarmac climb led into some grassy switchback corners and a final effort on some moorland singletrack. Beep, beep 50pts acknowledged by the SI box. A quick glance at the map and my watch 04:55:04.
Not on borrowed time just yet. But I also wasn't at the top...

I followed the ridge as it continued to climb. The finish and event centre were no where to be seen, still two valleys away.

A steep grassy bridleway track reveals itself. Normally a waste of hard fought altitude today the best downhill in the world!

For the first time today I know I'm going to finish without too many penalty points. A tractor, a farmer, lots of walkers and another beeping SI box offering 20pts at 05:05:56, yes please.

THE FINISH 05:09:54 800pts.

Mark McPhillips on the podium OMM April 2017

I was so pleased with my ride and performance that I didn't follow the usual routine of waiting and watching the scoreboard. I sat down with Maggie and ate some lovely chilli & rice before Maggie offered to check the scoreboard out. A quick thumbs up and a smile said it all.

Thanks to Sion James and everyone else from the OMM and Black Mountains MBO. A brilliant event that I'll remember for a long time.

If you're interested in these style of events more information can be found here.

https://www.theomm.com/upcoming-events/

http://www.bmbo.org.uk

Mark certainly knows how to celebrate. Here he is the day after his win attempting to fix a gate without any DIY skills.

Celebratory DIY Mark McPhillips style

Maggie at the Finish of OMM April 2017

Mark McPhillips at the finish of OMM April 2017