Steve Deas - King of the Mountains…

September 30 2010

Steve Deas entered three No Fuss races this year, all in the name of becoming the UK's best (unofficial) all-round mountain biker. Endurance events designed to test every area of a mountain biker's competence. After winning the series, Steve talks about the events and what went into each race. Take a read if you think you can challenge him next year, but for now the crown and Five frame are his...

Steve Deas

Having completed the annual Strathpuffer24 torture fest this year, I was looking for some events to focus on and keep my body the temple it is today, and still eat my way through as many pies as possible.

When No Fuss posted their latest events list for 2010, they included the Tour De Ben Nevis on terrain I hadn’t ridden for 5-10 years. So that was the target, and I was already going to do the Hope six hour DH Enduro, so I might as well enter 10 at Kirroughtree and go for the best all-round MTB competition, game on.

My idea of mountain biking is cycling in mountainous terrain, stunning views with challenging climbs and descents away from the city, traffic and other pollutions. That is how I like my races, or as near to that as possible. I have never been interested in lots of spectators or what the atmosphere is, only the challenge and racing like-minded people.  

Steve Deas Orange Tour de Ben Nevis

Steve Deas taking on the Tour de Ben Nevis, an epic circumnavigation of Britain's biggest and most wild mountain. 

Frazer and his crew have a reliable reputation for putting on challenging, testing, interesting and varied events. No Fuss make good use of their chosen venues, using a good mix of purpose built, natural and hand-cut trails.  You know these are going to be difficult and awkward and sometimes you won't be able to do certain sections because you’re tired, cramped or talentless, but you are going to try anyway. Unlike the merry-go-round field events you see organised south of the border with get "bums on seats" in mind, they’re a real challenge.

Bike technology has moved on and therefore so should the courses. Its good to see that some manufacturers such as Orange, get behind and support the more challenging races, with confidence in the strength of their designs. Mountain bikes used for riding in the mountains...cyclocross bikes for riding in the parks and fields. I hope the 2012 Olympic XC course won’t be a showcase for track cycling!!!!!! Sorry, will get off soap box....

Steve Deas

In Steve's words, natural trails always beat "trail centre pish" for mountain bike thrills.

It started off with 10 at Kirroughtree. The weather couldn’t have been nicer for this race. Lots of trail centre stuff with chunks of muddy, rooty descents keeping the skills alive. Many times finding a resting place in the nettles when experimenting with line choice. Endurance wasn’t the greatest, blew up a few times during the last couple of hours, and resorting to stuffing mud covered jelly beans from my back pocket down my, couldn’t give a sh*t throat. Thankfully, due to a lack of light and all the medics being too busy patching up the wounded, the course was closed right on the 10 hour mark. 

I enjoyed this race despite the weather, I hadn’t been that dirty in years. Bumped into loads of old friends I hadn’t seen for years since...well.... back in the day...... when time began....when i were a lad......sort of conversations.

Oh well, no prizes for 4th. But still a good result for my fitness level.

Next up the 6 hour DH enduro at Fort William. The clouds were down for most of this event so visibility at the top wasn’t great. I hadn’t done any downhilling since this race last year, so it was gonna hurt! 

For me this event is about how much pain I can handle, whilst trying to beat my mates Elliot Campbell and Phil McGrath, bets were on, bragging rights for the next year were at stake. I was using my trusty, Phil made in the back workshop bike...oops (i trust him), complete with new forks, paint job and some other modifications he wasn’t telling me about. Got the weight down too. Did well to get up the hill at the start. Then it was in its element, no problem on the downhill, just had to hang on. Preparation was drinks with caffeine, bars with caffeine and jells with caffeine. Probably why I puked up on the way home that night.

Endurance Downhill Steve Deas Orange 224

Flying high at the Hope Endurance DH. Steve goes up and down rather well.

Highlight of the day was going one lap better than Ells and Phil, wish I could have seen their faces when they found out I was last man through the gate!

I did well... 1st vet and 11th overall. Happy with that!  Monday morning wasn’t good though, no strength in my arms and couldn’t walk properly till Thursday.

Two months of training later, back up to Fort Bill for the Tour De Ben Nevis. A one-lap course of about 70 km with five timed sections along the way. Everything from tarmac, mud, river crossings, rock strewn descents and climbs and hike a bike sections and climbs... did I say climbs with some nice descents chucked in for good measure.

I spent many a day trying to work out what bike to take for this. I settled on a short tavel full suss, lent to me by Pete at Flying Fox bikes for doing 10 under the Ben. I stripped all the parts off it and rebuilt with shiny new stuff, beefed it up where required such as wheels, forks and tyres, but keeping it as light as possible (but its back together now Pete, honest).

The race pace at the start was fairly fast but out with my ability. I kept the leaders in sight until the end of the tarmac and forest road. Once into the rockery thinks started going my way, at least until my seatpost slipped. I then crashed trying to make up time. Then crashed in the timed descent like a true beginner. Sorted the minor mechanicals it caused and on my merry way (in an irritated fashion). Things went well for the next 15km, back into 2nd place, till after the river crossing at least.

Steve Deas Kinlochlevan descent

What mountain biking is all about, the technical Kinlochleven special stage.

During the hike-a-bike I lost 2 places, legs were like lead on that climb and the back pain didn’t help. The next 10 km of short climbs and long downs were slowly bringing enjoyment back. 20 km to go flat, undulating, forest road stuff, linked up with bits of singletrack.

My third crash of the day was about realising my brake pads had worn out. Didn’t quite make the entrance to a footbridge, hit a tree and got wrapped up in fence wire instead. Big panic to get back on track, cursing my stupidity with colourful four letter words for the next 15kms, whilst thinking there was going to be a chain gang of riders passing at any minute.

It was great seeing Anoach Mor lift station, only 8 miles-ish to go. Feeling better I put everything I had left into getting to the finish. The sun was also out.

I really enjoyed this race, such a great course, despite my roller coaster of fortunes. Fourth overall and second in vets, not bad, but could do better were my thoughts. Felt not too bad after this race, recovered well. Will do it again next year defo....and faster.....I hope!

1st overall in the series of 3 events! Best all-round mtb'er...hmm not so sure I am...will be next year though!!!! Well chuffed. Nice new Orange Five frame on its way.

Steve Deas - King of the Mountains

Steve Deas - King of the Mountains. You'd look happy too if you'd just won a frame.

My thanks go to the No Fuss events crew, Orange bikes and everyone that took part. Oh yeah, and Lorraine, and that shop I-cycles

Hopefully I get an entry into the MacAvalanche race next year!!

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