2013 Tour of Ben Nevis
September 24 2013
Riding 72km is a pretty impressive feat. Riding 72km off-road around the largest chunk of rock on the British Isles is even more so. The No Fuss organised Tour de Ben Nevis is a true challenge however you look at it. There’s more to it than a straight out single lap sprint though. Along the way there are special timed stages, the combination of the points earned on these stages with your finish time is what will dictate your overall standing. It’s a game of tactics as well as brute strength.
Orange have supported the Tour de Ben Nevis from the start, for many reasons. Firstly it’s a proper mountain bike race. There are proper mountains involved and you need a wide range of skills along with both physical endurance and mental fortitude to complete it, let alone do well. Secondly we know the folk at No Fuss to put on an event, not just a race. Always willing to go that little bit further to give people an experience they will remember for more than just the racing, Frazer, Spook and Fiona know what riders want and how to give it to them. They also know how to give them what they didn’t know they liked. Thirdly we think the Tour shows off our bikes well; a reliable, light, confidence inspiring bike is needed to tame the trails around the Ben. Our bikes are well up to the task. Which one, however, was a matter of debate.
Fives, Alpine 160s, Clockworks and Gyros were all on the start line, the rationale behind each a story in itself. Local boy and friend of Orange Ruari Watt had built up a Clockwork especially for the event, and it seemed a lot of the other locals had had similar thoughts with more than a few 29er hardtails underneath locals.
Once the riders have left en-masse down the high street the waiting begins. From the race HQ stories and updates start to come in in dribs and drabs. Who is where, who has done what. Bits of stories half told, abbreviated. This is the best thing about the Tour; the tales that come out it. This is true of most events but the Tour seems to generate more than others often do. The mixture of distance, terrain, weather and riders seems optimum for great stories; both of success and elation and of hardship and pain.
As riders start coming back in those stories get expanded on, set straight and, I’m sure, embellished, as all good stories do. Every rider has something to talk about, no one ‘just did it’.
This year as well as the usual result dependent prizes there was a new award. The Michael Bonney trophy, awarded to the rider who overcame the greatest adversity during the race. All the competitors overcame some form of adversity and that’s no doubt part of the appeal of this race, but some riders didn’t just ride through their adversity, they fought through it. There was one rider who was riding to raise money for an Alzheimers charity as his father had suffered from the condition and there was a young man who travelled the length of the country to take part in the race despite having a serious medical condition. There were so many stories, so many people who were worthy of the award and unfortunately we didn’t get to hear them all. In the end, the the trophy was awarded to Jayne Taylor who had competed in another No Fuss event, the 10 Under The Ben, earlier in the year and failed to complete it having crashed hard and put her teeth through her lip. She came back to do the Tour de Ben Nevis determined to finish a race but crashed again, slicing open her shin and needed to be taken to hospital, again failing to complete the race. That spirit of being defeated but getting back up again, to try again, is exactly the kind of attitude the trophy aims to reward; not giving up, not backing down. As well as the trophy she gets a season pass for any No Fuss event next year, so hopefully she can complete a race, preferably unscathed.
The No Fuss Team for putting on the event, Ian Wynne & Sons butchers for providing tea, coffee and food, all the competitors, Hope Technology for their help with the Michael Bonney Award trophy.