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?).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!