Winter Ghetto Dual Races – Round 3
23rd November 2010
Continuing the progression of Sheffield’s ghetto dual scene, round three proved to be another classic. Back up in Swinny’s field word had spread further and this season’s largest attendance braved the cold but dry and clear night. Moving up in the world, the usual bike lights on posts/trees were supplemented with a generator and halogens to light up the course. The normal format applied though, practise from 7 and racing at 8. Spikes are banned to keep everything loose and fair and the course is marked out with short lengths of plastic overflow pipe cut for purpose. Every racer has to supply a random prize as an entry fee with the winner taking first dibs on the best. Ranging from tasty 5:10 jerseys through to cable ties and tea bags, it pays to be fast.
The racing is usual dual style, a head to head knockout with two runs, one on each lane, and the fastest combined time moving through to the next round. With 27 racers turning up seeding runs were in order with the top 16 moving on to the finals. The finals start order was chosen at random and paper plate number boards handed out.
The course was a long one with a high stakes gorse corner to start us off, too tight and your gloves wouldn’t be saving you. In a grass field with an hour’s practise for 27 riders the surface soon cut up to reveal the mud below. It became so slippy that even the first corner was proving too difficult for some who went down hard. Foot out, committed turns were the winning formula with some unbelievable drifts being laid down. Once through the long peddley start traverse and around the gorse the course tightened up and the turns were difficult and tight. The surface was unpredictable giving rise to many a spectacular off accompanied by big grins all round. However serious the racing may get, it’s all about fun after all, we are dealing with bikes here.
Seeding runs were a tentative business, with only one chance and the loose course, most were holding back. A few offs caused some surprise upsets in the final 16 dispatching some early favourites. With a final cut off time of 20.06 the balance between speed and caution was difficult but the quickest qualifier was some 4 seconds faster with a 16.44.
Once the number boards had been handed out at random, racers lined up in pairs at the start gate. With a newly implemented timing system runs were quick paced and the first round was ploughed through. An interesting pairing saw the brother’s Swinden up against each other with Will knocking James out by just over a second. Another upset saw series leader Joe Bowman out in the first round against Chris Pearson by just over half a second.
The second round saw the racing get even tighter with Tim knocking Shane Townsend out by 0.3 and Dan Smith falling foul to Ally Fraser. Will had a big off in his first run and just couldn’t make up the time in the second to catch Chris. Down to the final 4 and Ally was put out by Chris by only 0.1 and Henry Norman was dispatched by Tim making it a family affair in the final. First up though, the small final, Henry versus Ally, with Henry making an unfortunate error and giving it away. The brothers Pearson were equally as hard fort with the first run split by only half a second. The pressure must have got to Chris in the second run though as he lost it and hit the deck letting Tim take the crown and first dibs on the prize pool.
Fastest run of the night was laid down by Shane Townsend with a 14.02, closely followed by Tim Pearson with a 14.12 and Will Swinden with a 14.50. Once the field was cleared it was off to the George to catch the end of the pub quiz, sup a pint of fine ale and enjoy the free bar snacks. What better way to finish the night than with a freshly baked sausage roll and mini toad in the hole.
Many thanks to Swinny for the use of the field and laying out the top of the course; Joe Bowman for organising, publicising and sorting the generator and lights; Dom Worrall for fantastic photos; and everyone else that made it happen or just turned out to race. The series continues every fortnight at locations around Sheffield. Contact the CGCC for more details.
Nick Hamilton, Crookes Gentleman’s Cycling Club.