The Blue Steel Racing summer series is in full swing. Last night’s chainless DH was a hoot and had a surprising result. Namely.. this prize in the prize bag. The ‘Prizer’ shall remain nameless but just to put it in context, his misses has just has a bouncing baby boy.
Its exciting times at TiS , the Summer Series of Mates Races is about to get underway. Now by the nature of these races they have to stay a bit under the radar and somewhat exclusive… well to mates. Unofficial throw downs they serve to pit amigo against amigo in a race for bragging rights and pub plaudits.
We get a lot of requests about how other people could get involved with them but unfortunately this just cant happen. They would have to become official, paid for, insured races and that’s what we run Peatys Steel City DH for. Until now that is. We run Dual races all through the winter to bring a little flood lit joy to the dark winter nights. Well, we’re bringing dual to the masses and hoping that this year it wont flood!
As park of Sheffield’s Cliffhanger outdoor festival we will be setting up the dual poles on a grassy hill in Graves park on Sunday 7th July. The course will be out all day for anyone to come and have a play. If you wish, you have one chance to lay down a qualification time. Should you be among the fastest of the day, you will get the chance to compete in the finals. A knock out competition pitting the best of the best against each other to decide the winner. This will be run in true TiS style with each entrant throwing down a prize as an entry fee and the winner getting first pick. Timing will be with stopwatches and fast fingers. As always, spiked tyres are banned to keep things even.
The race will start at 3pm sharp so all practice and quali’s will be done by 2:30pm, then it’ll be straight in to racing. We’ve raced on grass several times before and believe me it gets very interesting and very sideways especially with a bit of rain.
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?
All the Bikes with rear wheels removed as we skulk off to the start line
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.
Carnage from the start
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.
Some took longer than others to get their wheels in
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.
1st and 2nd Place
Ruari gave it his all
John popping a wheelie for the adoring crowds
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.
Matt Hunt crossing the line
Ally fraser coming in after a little detour
Will Swinden appreciating the weight of the Curtis
Jody was shocked... mainly by overtaking men!
Round 8 done
The prize pile
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!
Round 4 will go down in history as the one on broken road, where two world champions turned up and half the racers puked on the finish line. Carnage from start to finish, just like it was meant to be. Dreamed up drunk in the Lescar and held back until the time was right, it couldn’t have gone better. Watch out for a write up of this race and the whole series in Dirt soon.
You’ve probably seen this video Duncan edited together of all of our amazing helmet camera footage, it captures the atmosphere perfectly so you can witness the carnage first hand.
ThisISheffield Team Kit, Stokes, Bowman and Hamilton (Photo: John Alexander)
We all met up for a ride up the broken road on Mam tour, 36 of us in the end. Steve Peat came along and brought along his house guest Brian Lopes who was in the country to race at Dalby. Rob Stokes even made a guest appearance flying in especially from Chamonix again and the new This Is Sheffield team kit also made its first appearance. We met at the bus terminus, geared up and rolled out. As we crossed what would be the finish line I explained a few rules. In order to complete the race you had to neck a pint of ale on the finish line. Spilling or chucking away of beer would be severely punished by DQ. We continued to ride up and everyone took in the features they would have to negotiate on the way down. Nothing too bad but elbow to sharp elbow with you mate put a new perspective on things.
Pushing up to the top (Photo: Dom Worrall)
World Champions Rolling Through (Photo: Henry Marsh)
Once at the top, everyone was instructed to turn their bikes upside down and line them up. 36 bikes actually take up a surprisingly amount of room. We walked down the hill about 50 metres with loud groans from most complaining that they were riders not fell runners, some of us are both! The Le Mans style start worked brilliantly and it was carnage from Peaty hollering ‘Go!’. We all battled for position pushing and shoving for all we were worth. Ruari POD obviously hadn’t been listening too closely as he ran straight to his bike rather than running round the back with everyone else as instructed. Joe Bowman was similarly deaf as he took off straight down the hill rather than following everyone else around the end of the line. Thankfully Lopes set him straight as sent him back up the hill with the rest of the pack. The first few corners were open and uneven meaning lots of shoulders were rubbed and places stolen. Swinny was well out in front from the start, a combination of talent and pole position, he took advantage and shot back down the hill, closely followed by Timmy. Tim had turned up somewhat late and had sprinted all the way up the hill to catch up, he and his brother Chris were still panting at the word go.
The Off Camber Shale (Photo: Dom Worrall)
Checking out the lines (Photo: Henry Marsh)
Once through the first gate we hit tarmac and the big ring was engaged. To keep it interesting we used grassy parking lumps to slow us down or catch air depending on your speed. Shane Townsend took a tumble here and left a bit of skin behind, all in a nights riding. Further down we slid through the next gate on to the Broken Road Proper, where the sides got distinctly precipitous. Negotiating a descent drop at speed or risking a pinch puncture chute was first up. Several riders punctured that night, including Alec Hartley who had a flat by the time he got to the start line. After a fast grassy or tarmac corner came a brilliant off camber shale slope with multiple lines. Steve Taylor made a last minute course correction on entry and nearly lost it on the way in, thankfully his skills saved him and Joe captured everything on video. Rob Jolley took a tumble on entry here too thankfully stopping before the edge and getting going again quickly.
Jordan, Nick and Ruari riding the Shale (Photo: John Alexander)
The next feature was a bit of a step up with a couple of line choices then it was on to a sharpish right hander and in to a grassy chute. At the bottom there was a narrow get-off gate just before the road sprint to the finish line. I rolled in 5th place to the finish following Swinny, Timmy, Luke Meredith and Jordan Gould. By the time I got there Swinny was across the line with his pint empty and Tim was well on the way. Taking a couple of deep breathes I managed one large mouthful, that was it, breathing required again. Next to me, Jordan was in even more of a state, he puked as soon as the amber nectar hit the back of this throat and couldn’t hold anymore of it down. One lad spilt most of his pint down his face then chucked the remaining half away, he was DQ’d for such brazen waste of Ale. As my Father said despairingly “you’ve taken a health giving sport and turned it in to a drinking game”, he’ll get to know the CGCC better one day. There were some real wrecks on the finishing line, lots of little voms and quite a few big ones, however after we’d all got our breath back, you could see the grins spreading again. This had been something to tell your mates about, to say you were there. To laugh about and talk about for the next week and especially bring up at Stoke’s Birthday in Corp on the Friday night.
Rob Jolley hits the deck (Photo: John Alexander)
The usual prize giving followed with Swinny taking first pick and selecting a nice looking packet of cookies, Tim took the Malt Loaf. Katie Hallam took the ladies crown, 16th place out of 31 finishers and the only lass. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of lots a people: Simon Garrard, Adam Wiles, Anna Dearnley, Phil Taylor (I think), Ester Stokes and Jeff King all did their bit, many thanks. Also thanks to all the came to shoot photos and video, Dom Worrall, Henry Marsh and Rich Braybutt, its great to have this shit documented for posterity.
Yours truly presiding over the prize giving (Photo: Dom Worrall)
So to the points, 16 for first place as usual but I’ve now instigated a new rule, everyone that attends gets a point. Also in this case, Jordan got a bonus point for best puke and Stokes got an extra 5 for travelling the farthest to compete.
This leaves the series standings with a new leader, Wills poor performance and Swinny’s winning streak catapults him up to first place. Ruari and Tim are also rising up pushing Jordan down a couple of spots.
Although I fear writing about spring is very clichéd (note French thing on top of the ‘e’) I feel like I need too…. It seems to be every outdoor-orientated persons favourite season, the lights are getting nighter, the trails are drying up and the sun is coming out. Read on for a few words and a big ass picture dump….
Sorry for the delayed post.. to be honest i still haven’t come back to reality on what actually happened…
A moggy March morning is what it all came down to.. After weeks of preparation from our very own Joe Bow and Nick Hamilton, with help from Steve Peat and plenty of others (sorry, i don’t actually know who was involved but thank you all) the race was finally upon us and ready to go..
An incredible atmosphere was buzzing around the Greno woods, as soon as sign in was completed my heart started jumping, i hadn’t been this excited by a race event in a long time.. maybe it was because i had entered my self in Pro-am for, ‘the laugh’ to see how id fair against some top riders.