For me it’s one of the highlights of the year, set in my hometown, at the same time as my birthday, running as part of a week-long cycling festival, what more could you want? The atmosphere is always incredible, the views across the town are stunning, and this year I also had Mark from MTB Instruction and Flow MTB coming to visit. He turned up the evening before, so we made the most of the local facilities and enjoyed a quick drink and evening meal catch up. The next day I grabbed my bike, rolled out my front door, met Mark at a café for a quick coffee and pedalled across town to the event registration.
There were plenty of familiar faces and we were soon nattering to people left, right and centre. We were with a couple of the Aberystwyth Uni MTB club crew for our first practice run and as the track was fairly similar to previous years I lead everyone out to show them the best lines. It was loose as a goose and dusty as heck, we all knew it’d be about finding that limit between grip and speed.
I did a few more practice runs and then decided to have a break before racing. I was feeling good on track and I wanted to save my legs for racing (it’s always tough on a hardtail), I also managed to puncture on my last practice run… With Mark we headed off to the local bike shop – Summit cycles in search of a new inner tube to replace the spare I’d used and to grab some lunch at a local café. We were soon headed back to the prom ready for racing.
From the old days of DH racing a knew to get a safe run in for the first run and then to push the limits on run 2. But once in the gate my enduro brain took over and it was all guns blazing for my first run, obviously assisted by mates heckling me all over the track on my way down… I was buzzing as I came through the gate to hear the whoops of Mark and also Coops on commentary giving me kudos on the time I’d just set. Usually I’m embarrassed to tell people my time (the guys are so rapid in comparison) but this time I was in breathing distance, I was stoked! I also took the lead by a whopping 5 seconds!!! I couldn’t believe it!
I’ve been trying to win Conquer the Cliff since I moved to Aber 4 years ago so I knew not to get too excited until the 2nd runs were done.
We went back up top and I treated myself to cake whilst we waited for the 2 nd runs. It was soon time to get back in the gate, I knew I had to go faster, I knew the other ladies would be pushing to find those seconds, I knew it was a fine line between grip and speed… Off I went, trying to push the boundary to go faster, my mech slipped and I ended up dropping into an easier gear, every time I cranked I knew I was loosing a little bit of power but I just kept pushing. I pulled through the finish line and had taken off almost a second, now to wait for the other ladies…
The finish area was a blur, mates from Uni chatting to me, listening to the times of the other ladies, realising I’d beaten Mark by a whisker, my mate George coming in 2nd place in Senior, drinking a cool bottle of cider, grinning ear to ear. I’d done it!Heather Kay
Main photo: ALC Photography