Tuesday, 30 March 2010

BMBS Round 1 down...

...4 to go. They say the first one is always the hardest and the first round of the British Mountain Bike Demo and Race Series at Sherwood Pines over the weekend was most definitely the proof of the pudding. There have been some pretty big changes to the race series this year, including adding a whopping great demo weekend to every round. The outcome of which is more work for all involved (and when I say all, I mean just 4 of us).

I've only been working on these particular events for a year now, and although it seems a lot longer I've actually only done 5 weekends, making it still a relatively young working relationship with the head honcho Martyn Salt. And as with all good organisers, there's always an element of trust to be earned before they stop checking everything you do, twice. Can't blame them, it's their event and their reputation on the line (and to be honest I'm the same with my event), but in the end things just get too big and too busy and you have to let go a little and have faith in those around you. I think we're almost there, almost.

The bad weather held off until Monday morning and all in all things went pretty well for a first event with so many new elements added to the mix. And as per usual the post-event aches and pains have appeared. For this kind of work it's not really a lack of fitness, but a lack of general physical activity that's the problem. My day job involves sitting in a chair watching TV, so heading out into the forest doing manual labour for a few days comes as a bit of a shock after 6 months off:

My shoulders and neck ache from hacking down trees and branches, my lower back hurts from standing up for 16 hours a day, my legs ache from running down all the singletrack, my feet hurt from walking and running on rough ground, my hands are cut to shreds and even my fingertips sting from all the zip ties, clips and staple ends. I'm glad I've had two days off to recover from this, even if they did go quickly.

Still, given the choice to race at these events or work on them, I know which I'd pick any day of the week. Can't wait for the next one! Must remember to sharpen my machete though.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Whinlatter Challenge-ing

First proper event of the season (barring the Glentress Demo) last weekend, the Whinlatter Challenge in the Lake District. Only in it's second year this event is going from strength to strength and with the addition of more purpose built trails, Whinlatter is also improving as a trail centre.

Saturday was set up day and I took the unusual step of marking the course by bike, rather than vehicle. This is something I've been talking about doing for ages, it's so frustrating spending 4 or 5 days at event venues and never actually riding a bike!

So a quick spin around the new blue grade Quercus Trail - lots of swoopy loveliness by the way and some of the biggest berms I've seen on a cross-country trail - a slog up to the top of the red trail and back to the cafe for tea and cake with the south side all marked. Richard Staton and his team had marked all of the north side trail so that was us done for the day. (I do like these quick and easy events.)

Sunday saw quite a mild start and even though I still had a cold, I'd volunteered to ride as Tail End Charlie. I also managed to avoid getting smacked on the head by a loud speaker this year so didn't have a concussion or pounding headache to deal with, always a bonus.

Four hours later the weather had turned and I'd almost completed the first 17 mile lap(!) riding behind one of the most determined 9 year olds I've ever seen. This is not a course for the faint hearted, with plenty of hills and some tricky descents that he'd battled his way through. Sadly he didn't make it to the finish, but it really was a brave effort.

I caught up with the back of the field and continued taking in the course and stuffing empty gel packets into my 'paper boy' bag. (Why do people drop those?!) It may look ridiculous, but those bags are very handy and always attract funny looks and crowd banter.

A quick tear down, a few more miles ridden and we were away before dark. A total of 20 off road miles for me and my longest mountain bike ride of the year. Hopefully get some more in at the first round of the British Mountain Bike Demo and Race Series at Sherwood this weekend - another excellent place for some eco-friendly course setting up.