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Summer Series 2012: Round 2 – Dual

Jolley letting it all hang out against Billsey (Photo: Steven Mackie)

Summer Series 2012: Round 2 – Dual

Dual racing helps keep us sane during the long winter months. You may have seen my many reports on these very pages about the torch lit antics around Sheffield and the fun that ensues. This stems from some very meagre beginnings when I popped down to B&Q and bought a load of overflow pipe, chopped the ends of at 45° at a foot long then headed down to the park on the Sunday after a Blacka Bashup. The fun and ferocious competition that ensued has continued since due to the fun and ferocious competition. 2 wheels – Most fun (my most overused expression?).

The new improved Dual Gates courtacy of Sheffield City Council (Photo: Steven Mackie)

For the past few years the Cliffhanger outdoor festival has been taking place during the summer in Sheffield. Put on by the city council and organised in part by Matt Heason it trys to bring a flavour of the outdoors to a park in Sheffield giving a taste of many activities to those that might have never even heard of them before. It centres around the British bouldering Championships which draw the biggest crowd around the purpose built competition wall sited a big top tent. This was actually my first introduction to the festival when I was asked to engineer the wall for the first year. It has expanded ever since taking in more sports as the years progress with cycling beginning to feature very heavily (because it’s the best! and Jon Dallow is a legend). This year Matt asked if I would run a Dual race and I agreed in return for a proper set of dual gates like those used in snowboarding dual slalom (the Electric fence posts provided by Jolley are brilliant, but not really for public consumption). The deal was done, the date set and we eventually found a company to make the gates.

Timmy not for the Winny (Photo: Steven Mackie)

You may remember just how wet this summer has been, I’m trying to forget but scars that deep-rooted with take a while to heal. The week leading up to Cliffhanger had been one of those weeks and the inevitable happened and it was cancelled. This was a huge pity because it was our first chance to open up the mates races to the public and get more people involved. By their very nature our races are just that, for mates. It’s not because we want to be exclusive, it’s just that I can’t get insurance or permission for every hair brained race we come up with. So everyone that races is a mate, they know that they can’t sue me should they break themselves because it just us having fun in the woods. Hopefully we inspire others to get off their arses and do the same because it so much fun, and hopefully one day, someone will invite us along to their race.

Rich Norgate getting Schooled in Dual by Timmy in the first round (Photo: Steven Mackie)

Chris getting Giggly (Photo: Steven Mackie)

Initially the race was off, completely. However, friends were coming from far and wide to race and staying in Sheff especially. This became abundantly clear after a few jars in the pub on the Friday night. A few hurried text messages later and the race was back on, only this time back in our normal coliseum of Endcliffe park. Having not actually tested out the fancy new dual gates I arrived early  to get set up, not early enough, the hoards were already waiting. These races usually happen in the dark and cold of a Wednesday night so it was quite a change to be able to see where to go. It also meant that the crowd was somewhat different, actually a family affair, as Cy Turner turned up with his wife and two kids whom were very helpful in setting out the course and even better cheer leaders (only for Daddy though). Once setup and  tested, practise on the course got underway with the conditions being a very familiar damp and drifty. One of the traverses was nearly impossible with many a back end stepping out too far. The new gates really look the part but I’m quite glad the public didn’t get the first use as there was a few teething problems to iron out. However, I’m sure the regular racers just smash in to the gates as hard as they can just to piss me off.

Jolley letting it all hang out against Billsey (Photo: Steven Mackie)

The Pearsons Locked in Battle (Photo: Steven Mackie)

I was faced with Cy Turner in the opening round. He was atop of a new prototype steed, a 29er version of the rocket. He had been flying in practise and reckoned that the larger wheels and there increased contact patch resulted in much more grip through flat corners. I can only assume this to be true as he kicked my arse and it cant be that he’s a better rider than me. Jolley had a characteristic off in the first round letting Billsey through to the second round where he also dispatched Chris Davey in his last ever Dual appearance. This round also saw the usual brilliant needle match of Pearson on Pearson which Chris edging out Timmy after picking up a bye through the first round. The small final ended with Cy using his big wheel advantage to show Bilsey who was boss. The top dog of the day was contested between Gordan and Chrisy P, with Chris having to put together a faultless second run to nudge out Jould. To finish of the afternoons festivities we came up with a new dual team relay format. With teams picked at random we lined up at the start gates. Each person in turn rode the course, dumped the bike at the finish line, then legged it back up the hill and slapped the next team member on the arse to set them off. Great fun, totally knackering and I cant actually remember who was on the winning team but I know it wasn’t mine! We finished off the afternoon with the traditional prize giving ceremony where everyone had given generously, particularly the person donating the child’s toilet seat.

A Massive thanks to Steven Mackie for all the great photos, its not often this gets to be seen in the light.

Cy Turner using all of his big wheeled advantage (Photo: Steven Mackie)

'Prizes' galore (Photo: Steven Mackie)

And so endeth the second round, series points dished out, and Chris Pearson taking an early lead. Billsey snuggled up close to him in second place with Timmy and me hugging it out in joint 3rd. Henry Norman rounds out the top 5. Next on the agenda, a return to the race that launched a thousand (well two that we know off) races. MegaDeath!

Summer Series 2012: Round 1 – Cycle Speedway

Summer Series 2012: Round 1 – Cycle Speedway

Having taken the spring off organising mate’s races to concentrate on real life it was with great anticipation I announced the upcoming schedule for this year’s summer series. There had been some subtle and lots of very unsubtle prompting about when the new season would begin and so with the passing of the longest day, racing began.

This year’s series is planned to be a succession of 8 races taking in all ‘undisciplines’ of mountain biking, including a dual race open to the public and a Strava based round. The nature of these mates races is that they are just that, unofficial ‘races’ between friends, chaotic meetings of people all with the aim of having fun on bikes. As such it was great to have the opportunity to open up a couple of races to the public (other than Peatys Steal City DH) but more of that in another post. Also we’re still waiting for sanctioning from the UCI for points but ‘Ockers is working on it.

Round 1 this year was one of our old favourites and still the most fun you can have on two wheels, cycle speedway. Rob Mahwood of the Sheffield Stars once again welcomed us back to the newly surfaced oval to get our foot down and our bikes sideways. Apparently the lads that help Rob out when we come down look forward to it every time as the carnage that ensues is not quite typical of a speedway meet. Always happy to oblige. Every time we go down I’m amazed that this sport is not nationally well known: it’s so much fun; so hard to get right and such an amazing spectacle. It should featured every week on Grandstand.

Looking out of the office window at 3 and seeing another of this summers deluges running off the soaked earth I banged my head repeatedly against my keyboard. Somehow it spelt out ‘Fuck this summer’ 5 times in and email and sent it by accident to my most important client. Happily as 5 rolled round and I left the building, the sun cracked out from behind the clouds and our luck once again held. Descending upon Cookson park at 6 Rob had again rolled out all the stops, the full starting gate was in place the track had been bailed out (literally) and swept ready.

By now most of us are old hands at Speedway so the practice laps were quickly racked up once a suitable bike had been selected from the pile. The lankier of us always suffer with choice but that just adds further to the fun. 16 of us elected to race, with many just coming to watch the carnage, which meant the 3 lads and Rob himself were included in the line up. They have these brilliant grids already setup which set out who races who and when making sure everyone gets a go in each lane and shouldn’t race the same person more than twice.

Racing got underway quick and it was a full 4 lap affair. Considering the track is only 200m around, 4 laps is such hard work. Its balls out sprinting off the line, foot off, corner, drift, then back on the pedals as soon as possible to sprint to the next corner. The first corner is all important as once out in front it is possible to control the race if you have the skills, naturally we don’t and it’s just a balls out battle.

There are a few memorable moments from the evening; my favourite though was when I lined up against Rob for the first time. Such a pro, he’d been showing us how it was done all night and was very generous with advice. I was in lane 1, him in lane 2. He said to me “you remember Liam don’t you ?” as he signalled to the lad in lane 4. It was then that I remembered why I recognised him, it was from this incident, at 1:15, during last year’s Spring Series Speedway session. I’d used some rather dubious tactics to put him out of the race and it was as these neurons fired that Rob delivered the knife as the grin spread across his face “ …because he remembers you!”. That was it, purely psyched out, and I didn’t see any of them for dust but the team were being kind enough to let us invaders win.

During their 3rd round battle Rich Baybutt and Henry Norman had a bit of a coming together on the last corner of the last lap. Scrambling off the floor to get back on their bikes Baybutt was lagging well behind as Henry was first back on his feet pushing/pedalling/paddling his bike over the line. Not able to get back on his bike on the time Rich took the only logical choice and sprinted on foot towards the tape dragging his bike by the rear wheel behind him to the jeers for the assembled crowd. Victory was his as he crossed the line just ahead.

Surprise speedway star of the night was John Jones. He turned up late missing the practise and the first couple of rounds still in his steel toe cap work boots. Rob was immediately impressed by his style (you’d have thought he should be good being one of the most over qualified coaches in the country) and was trying to sign him up for the Stars.

Will Swinden was dominant all evening only dropping one point throughout which was in a first round battle with Timmy. Tim starting in lane 1 had the advantage and made the most of it. Ruari was also on form only dropping two points which left the final two spots in the big final to Chris Pearson and myself. I picked lane 1 out of the bag which put me next to Will in lane 2. As the tape flew up we sprinted off and I clashed with Will and went down like a sack of shit. Will went on to take a well deserved first with Ruari second and Chris in Third.

And so ended the first round of the Summer Series, the seal had been broken and it was on to the next race. This was scheduled to be the Dual in Endcliffe park but more of that in the next race report.

Nick

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