Great race the weekend up at Lee Quarry, Bacup. I'd never been before and I'd heard great things about it so half the reason I wanted to race was to check it out.
It's a great area and on the day, the Brownbacks guys set up two courses - one for "heros and lads" classes and one for the "warriors and racers" classes. As it became apparent on the practice lap that Dave and me did, we weren't seemingly doing much of the sweepy, swoopy, bermy stuff I'd heard about but quite a bit of up with some down ! Right at the end of the practice lap I'd felt a ding on my back rim for the second time and this time it flatted - good timing to remind me to up the tyre pressure - a lot !
Great course - I made the mistake of not taking enough water (had half my tiny bottle before the race started). Also - getting chainsuck from my middle ring from about 4 laps in, so I never really felt like I was "racing" more like riding. No mechanicals though
Start line with Quarry Trails in background (courtesy Yorkshire Gallery)
7th I think in the Warriors class which was fine really. Disappointed that we never had chance to take in the sweepy stuff that the heros and lads course seemed to, but there's a reason now to get back up there, ride it properly and check out Cragg Quarry too (which looks awesome from what I've seen from the Mary Townley Loop).
We'd never been to Pembrokeshire before as with a tent, we were not keen on 5-7 days with potential rain and winds perched on a cliff top with Lewis.
With the van, that's not an issue - the weather can do what it wants. Thankfully, it didn't. Great weather, lovely walks, lots of family tag-a-long cycle rides and a few beaches interspersed with great pubs.
It's a lovely area which reminded me of a cross between the west coast of Ireland and Scotland.
We stopped at Hendre Eynon campsite which was nice but was a bit like a couple of huge fields with people dotted round the edge - big and spacious, but an empty feel !!!
Teresa impressed us all by making a maze on the beach from scratch !
There were only about a dozen people on this beach. Fantastic, including caves (obviously all potentially containing buried treasure !)
There were only about half a dozen people on this beach which is only 1/2 a mile from St Davids.
My first ever team MTB event so just went along for a social more than anything with some of the riders from Buzz Bikes (Belper) and around.
Shop owner and ex Elite roadie Stefan rounded up 4 of us with last minute illnesses and dropouts making it a bit of a Thursday / Friday text-fest. I don't know Stefan that well, and had only met one of the other guys from Buzz Bikes B team before, so it was going to be a great weekend all round in terms of general chin wagging and perhaps riding too.
It's only down the road (30 mins in campervan) so preparation was no hassle. On getting there, the campfield was absolutely huge. There were thousands of tents there, some vans and lots of bikes and fettling ! It's meant to be the most relaxed 24hour team event out there and I'll certainly vouch for that. Stef certainly did his bit though to make sure we knew we had to kill ourselves for the result he wanted !
On arrival, all talk was of the course. What else is there to chat about with 2 hours to go ! Tyre choice was not a topic on my list as I had two tyres on my bike and that was that. Mud, hardpack or grass - they'd have to do. The guys used two main words to describe the course - rooty and twisty, with some sections you could barely squeeze your handlebars through. Nice - gonna suit me then - NOT !
A quick reccie of the course with Ironman (type event) Simon was full of banter and the usual "I wonder how handy he is" chat without appearing overly enquisitive ! Thankfully the reccie wasn't full of roots and twists. Yes there were roots and yes there were twists, but nothing as bad as I had got in my head !
I was nominated first leg as they'd latched onto the fact that I could run. Anyway, it was longer than I thought at about 5 mins (and bloody fast too !). Think I got to the bike in about 15th place. Sadly, I couldn't find my bike so I reckon I lost 30 places there ! Never mind - I soon made em up on the first climb. Very long and very gradual - just what I like !
A rhythm would soon develop - make ground on the flat / downhill / straights, lose it on the twists and have people on their brakes almost rubbing into my backtyre. The first lap was far too frantic to be concentrating on 'body positioning', 'balance' and other such words uttered by Ed Oxley the other week. It was simply a matter of ;
Brake as late as possible going into a bend
Probably overshoot a bit
Brake some more
Wobble a bit, then
Power out of the bend and lose the guy behind me who is completely hacked off with me jamming on my brakes !
The course was brilliant - lots and lots of singletrack. Nothing majorly technical, lots of fast sections. A couple of steep short climbs and about 40 mins long (not 1h15m like at Newcastleton which was too long).
It soon became evident that Stef was lapping a tiny bit faster than me and the others were slower. This was basically the order of the day until sunrise when Stef lost his pace (I think he bonked big style every bloody lap !!) and I stepped it back up after the loss of about 5 mins on night time laps. Stef then seemed to be lapping about 3 mins slower than me.
Results weren't taken too seriously really, apart from by Stefan, his wife Caroline and his daughters who were all keeping themselves very busy reporting back split times to us. At least someone cared what position we got !
We were not credited with a nighttime lap which didn't record as we went over the timing mat which meant we were actually 10th Enthusiast males out of 102 teams in that category. Not bad. If it would have been Stef and me we'd have been Top 5 easily.
Great weekend overall - a bit like a camping weekend with riding thrown in really !