Peaty and Joe made an appearance on BBC’s Look North program last night to promote build a jump week . Check out this cheeky IPlayer rip.
With all the gravity fed racing throughout the preceding rounds of the Spring Series it was time to get a sweat on. XC racing was always going to feature but I’d been toying with various formats. This time we chose short course , a criterium, multiple laps and, to make it a bit more painful, an endurance test. How many laps could you do in an hour? In homage to real XC racing and to make everyone a bit less comfortable, I made Lycra mandatory with bonus points available for the most garish combo and double points for anyone bringing a turbo trainer. Check out the horrors on show below (click to make bigger)!
At 5 o’clock on Tuesday evening Si Choppin and Dave James met me in Endcliffe park at the spot where we usually race dual. It’s an ideal area of the park as it’s wooded, on a hill and not used for anything else other than walking dogs. I’d ordered half a kilometer of tape off EBay to mark out the course and recycled a load more from a Midlands series race in Dronfield a few weeks ago. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to course to go, taking in as much gradient change as possible and making up lanes between the trees for best use of the tape.
We pieced together what became quite a challenging course. A long dragging hill to start and, half way up, the start-finish lanes for lap counting, this took the riders up to the highest point. From here there was a fast descent into a natural leaf filled gulley which funneled you through a hole in a holy bush which rutted up beautifully later in the race. Popping out of the rut you needed commitment to not slam in to the large log and stump on the right hander which followed. The next section of the course took in a short sharp climb with a dog-shit tech feature on the left to be avoided. This set you up for a tight right hander in to a steep chute with another tight right at the bottom, this developed in to a nice little cut line later in the race. Then we were back to the climbing, a long drag all the way to the top of the hill. Dave suggested a lovely little feature which was a log across track at the top, a killer element which was removed by rider ballot later in the race. From here the course snaked up and down the hill a couple more times through loose drifty corners until it hit a tight, tech, chicane. The final descent brought the riders back to the start of the lap and a return to the burn. We also happened to run out of tape.
The race started in a Le Mans style on the grass adjacent to the woods. After a quick race briefing and asking a few lasses if they’d mind moving over a bit, we all left our bikes at the bottom of the hill and walked back to the top. With a ‘Marks, set, go’ the 26 starters were off and legging it, elbow to elbow. Turning the bikes the right way up, Matt Hunt was somehow first back in to the woods on his new 29’r. Rich Baybutt was left well behind trying to readjust to clips. I got a flyer of a start and was first at the top of the first climb managing to keep the lead until Si Choppin took me on the second climb. After 4 laps I asked Henry Norman and Adela Carter, who were kind enough to help out counting laps, how long we’d been going. Rather than the 40 minutes I was expecting, we’d been riding for less than 20. Shit. The lap was a lot shorter than I’d thought, about 4 minutes.
As the race continued we had a few early exits. Shane and Irwin both gave up after only 6 laps, sitting at the side looking a bit sick. Shane got back in the saddle after a good rest and bashed out a few more. Rob Stokes managed a total of 9 laps with much walking up of hills, then gave up and did what he does best. Heckle. Amongst the big lads the race for the win was between series leader Swinny and XC specialist, Si Choppin. Chop loves a bit of pain and suffering and his continued grimace as he kept lapping me showed just what a good time he was having. Swinny kept pace with him though looking amazing in his GB Onesie. He was hampered in the latter stages by a slow rear puncture, nothing his brute power couldn’t cope with though but he just couldn’t catch Chop. They both managed 21 laps in the hour along with Martin Baker who also came in to his own. Steve Taylor came in 4th with 20 laps and Hanna Jonsson was the first lady home with a great 16 laps. Neil Hunt took home the bonus points for best lycra in a lovely matching ‘Mapei’ road set although it was a very close call. Chop took first dibs on the prize pile and everyone else followed suit with a load cheer and clap all round. With all the formalities out of the way it was off to the Lescar to rehydrate.
So to the Series standings, Swinny is still sitting pretty at the top of the table, steadily extending his lead. With two poor performances in the last two events Mini Swinny, Will, has moved down a place letting me push up in to second spot. The rest of the top 5 remains relatively stable, but Si Chops first Win of the series catapults him 29 spots up the rankings in to 14th. Dave James also takes a leap up the points from 52nd to 31st. Katie Hallam is leading the Lasses race for victory with Hanna and Liz Bowman equal 2nd with 16 points.
The Series Standings
|Position||Name||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Total|
The Next race will be a Hill Climb double header, a balls out peddle and a super tech height gain challenge. Watch out for details in the Calender.
Carrie Poole won the womens category at the recent first round of the Gravity Enduro Series as Ae (she would have placed 2nd if she’d entered the Elite Class). This didn’t go unnoticed by Dirt who published this photo of her along with the most accurate caption possible. Great work Greggers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was one to remember, but the next race will be too. XC in Endcliffe Park, as many laps as you can complete in an hour and lycra is compulsory, extra points for fluro!
As the Sun continues to shine, so the Spring Series continues to gather momentum. Race 3 was a mini DH out in the peaks on an old favourite track which has a steep wide open, fast top section that then dips in to the woods for some bar smacking tight flowing turns. It then pops you out in to a rough rooty left which sets you up for two of the sweetest berms in the Peak. If you can hold your line out of the second you pedal hard in to a big booter with a lovely flat landing. All over in less than a minute, which most of the other lads are used to.
Helmet Camera footage by Duncan Philpott featuring Ruari, Swinny and Dunc’s own crash at the start
The series is starting to draw more of a crowd and certainly more attention. Last night we had nearly as many spectators, hecklers and drinkers as we did riders. Thankfully it was an experienced crowd who’d brought pans and wooden spoons to make as much noise as possible. Perhaps not quite what was wanted in the middle of the Peak District but certainly what was wanted for a great racing atmosphere. The race was slated to start at 7:30 so riders were up practising from about 6 and the tight wooded section quickly claimed a few casualties. ThisISheffield’s in house photo genius Duncan PhiliPhoto was already bleeding by the time I arrived, his arm had lost in an argument with a tree. He later did exactly the same thing again in the same spot which put him out of the race. Thankfully this meant he took lots of great photos. Henry Marsh managed to head butt a tree which also finished his racing for the night meaning he took photos too, thank you.
After all the racers had chucked 2 quid in to the jam jar and popped a prize in to the bag racing got underway. Henry Norman still out from racing with injury but concentrating on marathon training was kind enough to take on timing duties ably assisted by Simon Garrard. Simone was unfortunate enough to take the starters roll so spent half an hour stood at the top of the exposed track gradually freezing his tits off in the wind as the sun went down. The later racers also had to suffer the same fate hiding in the heather to keep warm. Reports of Swinny kissing caterpillars were greatly exaggerated. Joe Bowman was out of the race again due mechanical issues, with his van. However, he did turn up to heckle and session the track on the Cotic X. Going back to the old school, mobile phones and a stop watch were all we needed and each racer was sent down the hill in turn with a “3, 2, 1” and a Tarzan cry.
Jordan Gould took an early lead, 6th out of the ‘start hut’ and getting down in 37.12 also reportedly putting in the best jump off the bottom booter. I was next down the hill and put in a 39.97 sliding me in to an early 2nd place. However, next down was Ruari ‘POD’ Hallam who sent the final jump in a 37.91 closely followed by Steve ‘BikeTrack.org’ Taylor with a 39.94. The Ladies made a welcome return to racing with Jody Vallance bringing along Liz Bowman (any relation?) for her first race. Liz took the win with a 53.53 on only her 4th mountain bike ride in 3 years and was looking pinned over the top section. She narrowly beat Jody by just over a second and it was a good ride from both lasses. The next rider down the hill to worry the leaders was series leader Will Swinden. There was a real split between riders on hardtails or full bounce and strangely there didn’t seem to be much between them. Will was on his Curtis and put down a 38.56 sliding him in to third spot, however his elder brother was about to get on track. Swinny was looking super fast all night and also had the recovery of the night. Getting out of shape on the top section he clipped a bush, pitching him forward on his front wheel towards a little booter. Somehow flying off this he managed to get back on two wheels and make the next corner, amazing control. Swinny took 1.5 seconds out of Jordan with a winning time of 35.59 and a well deserved return to the podium.
Prizes were given out in the traditional fashion with Swinny opting for the Tunnocks’ Tea cakes and Jordan taking Haribo. Jordan had once again produced a brilliant trophy which will have to be presented later as he left it at home. My apologies to Dave Camus who I mistakenly missed out of the roll call so only ended up with a University of Sheffield T-shirt. With racing done we retired to the warmth and comfort of the Cricket Inn to rehydrate, although Eighteen bikes’ Si Bowns decided to have a pint on his own in the crown. Talk naturally turned to future series plans with some great ideas coming from all corners, my favourite though was Jolley’s suggestion. “Starting at the top of Porter Clough, first neck a two litre bottle of strongbow, run to your bike, then ride as fast as you can to Corp and the first to pull a fat bird wins”. Genius.
So the series standings. No change at the top, Will Swinden extends his lead with myself narrowly in second place. Swinny jumps up four places to 3rd spot only 1 point ahead of Jordan and Ruari jumps from mid-pack up to 5th.
Next race – Mass Start DH. Details will be in the calendar.
After the success of the Winter Dual series and in the aftermath of Peaty’s Steel City DH a new challenge is needed to fill Sheffield’s racing void. Much talked about and plotted the idea with the Spring Series is to do something a little bit different. Everyone loves Dual, if you haven’t tried it, you should. Just get some posts or jumpers, stick them in the ground on a bit of a hill and race your mates. Believe me; you’ll wonder why you’ve never done it before. That aside, the C.G.C.C. and T.I.S. consist of all kind of riders riding all kinds of bikes and I wanted a race series that would reflect that.