With the concluding race of the Spring Series, Eighteen Bikes in Hope were kind enough to host and sponsor the event. Si and Matt Bowns were very generous in offering a very fancy Evoc backpack up as a prize for the pot and the race started and finished from the Shop. The plan was to race an XC loop up and over Shatton Moor, via the mast, then back down the steep rocky bridleway. A test of fitness, skill and balls. As it was mid-summer the attendance was down a bit with quite a few of the usual crew away on holiday sunning themselves or getting smashed up at The Mega. This meant lots of series points up for grabs for those getting their priorities right.
The race for the lead in the overall was at an interesting position as series Leader Swinny had been absent from the last round as his shifts had been changed at work. This meant Tim Pearson and I had been able to creep closer to his seemingly unassailable lead by getting top spots at the last round, Cycle Speedway. This left the top three split by only 3 points and everything resting on the result of the final round. In the Ladies race, Jody Vallance had the overall win well sewn up with an untouchable lead. Rumour had it that Swinny would also be unable to attend the final round and Tim definitely couldn’t make it as he was representing Splat shop out in France on the trials bikes. Was the men’s overall sewn up aswell?
The XC course was basically a long steep climb up followed by sharp, rocky descent. The ascent started on a road which was very steep and got steeper, kicking up hard just before the bridleway started. The gradient then eased up and turned in to a long drag up to the TV mast, perfect for sapping the last remaining strength from your legs. Once on top of Shatton Moor things level out over a long loop through farm track ruts and draggy grass, then the going gets fun. The Descent down Brough Lane is typical Peak District; Fast, rocky and straight, getting steeper the lower down you get. Large loose rocks combined with rutted goodness means fortune favours the brave. Keep off the brakes and pop and hop your way down and you’ll do well, get intimidated by size of the chunks of grit or catch one badly and puncture and its game over.
On the night 11 racers were able to make it to the start line, the promise of free beer and a curry at the end couldn’t bring people back from holidays. We met up in courtyard out the front of 18 bikes at 6:30 ready to race at 7. With such a long course and delays due to buying beer I didn’t have time to mark out the course. Therefore we pulled down the faithful OS map from the wall of the shop and explained the route. With the usual two quid in the pot and random prize in the pile we assembled a line of bikes. Matt Bowns brought out his Proto Full-Sus steal number for some race testing and Matt Hunt was the only rider on over sized wheels. To keep the start interesting, I had everyone remove their rear wheels before we walked down the street to the garage for the Le Mans start. Certain parties felt that this was a rather unfair start to the race and favoured the mechanically minded amongst us. Their protests were of course ignored and the race was started by Henry Norman who was kind enough to do the timing as he was still in recovery.
With a tight pavement and many a keen racer it was carnage from the word go. Matt Hunt was using his weight advantage barrelling through and pushing the competition out of the way, even with his wheel in his other hand. Ruari Hallam was also seen to use a car to bounce off to compensate for the lack of grip his cleats offered on the tarmac. But it was the newly engaged Shane Townsend that got the jump on everyone and was trying to get his back wheel back in first. After I managed to escape being pinned to the wall by Matt Hunt and get my wheel in I was a few places down leaving the court yard. We had to do a small section on the road to get to the beginning of the climb but kept off the main road as much as possible. Negotiating several gates along the route bunched up the leaders nicely before getting to the start of the road climb. With a mix of bikes and gearing this is where the men were separated from the boys, those brave souls running a single ring setup soon knew about it. Some on heavier bikes were even reported to push up certain sections and worse still, be overtaken by girls. As the climb wore on I managed to start putting a little bit of distance in to the peloton taking an early lead. As we continued to ascend I spotted Si Bowns chasing me down, constantly getting closer as we hill ground on. I was first to reach the Moor at the top and tried hard to lose him, no chance, he had me in his sites and wasn’t giving up. Shit. Back down the field similar battles of wills were going on and with everyone keenly watching the tour, they knew not to give up in the mountains.
I was first to hit the downhill managing to just hold off Si. I let off the brakes and peddled as hard as my big ring would allow jumping from rut to rut. The last time I’d ridden this section we’d been passed by a bunch of crossers on the flat section at the top. Pissed off with the exhaust fumes we determinedly pushed hard and caught them up on the steeper section, whipping off bumps as we passed them. The trail eventually turns back in to a road where we and the crossers regrouped, they were completely amazed and congratulated us on kicking their arse. Back to the race and I was almost caught out by a sharp left in the road managing to just skid round it and avoid an off. Lower down and back on the road I got a bit confused turning left instead of right momentarily before realising my mistake, unlike Ally Fraser, who rode all the way to the next village before realising. Crossing the line he blamed me and my shit signage for his drop down from third place, funny how everyone else managed it fine! The race finished back on the road and it was head down pedalling hard all the way back to the shop. Si was only 30 seconds behind me across the finish line, followed by Ruari and John Alexander making his first Spring Series appearance. Amy Herford brought home the girls gold with Jody just behind. The array of exhausted bodies laying around was testament to effort everyone made and the inappropriate choice of bikes for some. Will Swinden on his heavily set Curtis particularly enjoyed it as did Ruari pushing his 38 tooth front ring.
To accompany the courtyard prize giving we cracked open bottles of Ale to toast our success and the end of the Spring Series before piling in to the Curry Cabin. I can highly recommend the Monk Fish, delicious. And so ends the inaugural series, with 70 people participating over the course of 8 races it seems to have been a great success, watch out for a full review post before the commencement of the summer series. Which just leaves the overall results. Unfortunately, with Swinny working hard and unable to defend his lead and Tim away riding bikes with engines I had the series in the bag before Henry had shouted go as did Jody. I would have much preferred a battle to the end and a fair fight, but this is racing and you’ve got to be in it to win it. Which is pretty much how I and Jody seem to have won as only Ally Fraser also attended all the races in the series. Do I feel guilty that i won my own race series? Yes. Will I be awarding myself a large and ostentatious cup at the Hobo awards do for the honour ? No.
|Spring Series Round 8 – XC Heaven|
So many thanks go out to everyone that has been involved with the series over the past few months. Everyone that turned up to race or heckle. Particular thanks to everyone that turned up with a camera to shoot some photos or video, as I’ve said before what we’re doing here needs to be documented for posterity. And special thanks to all those that helped out by timing and marshalling, without you, the races couldn’t have happened. So, spread the word, we’ve learnt a lot this time round and the summer series will be even better than spring and of course, won’t finish until the winter… then we get Flood Lit Dual to while away the long nights. BOOM!
|Spring Series Final Standings|
|Position||Name||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Round 6||Round 7||Round 8||Total||Number of Rounds||Average/round|