Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
Singletrack Classic Weekender 08/07/11

Paul and Graeme up for the long trip up north to this one. We left Friday morning @ 9am and didn’t arrive in Bacup til 4:30pm due to the M6 being shut, oh well, so we had a nice scenic drive through the Peak District instead of the motorway.

Once @ Lee Quarry we unload the contents of the Vito into the back of the rangers Defender and got a lift up to the top of the quarry. Setup the tent then sat down for a well-earned beer or 2, then it started raining, great. Dinner and a lot more beer and it was time for bed.
Graeme Report

Next morning we each had a sausage and egg “muffin” from the Meal Machine (muffins up north are just round rolls apparently “you know like a bread cake”) and it was time to hit the trials and downhill practise. 1st bit of practise was the hill climb which I managed on my 2nd attempt. Then up to the steps, no problems. See-saw next, easy, recon we will blitz this. We then went up to the top of the Downhill run, where it absolutely chucked it down, the rain drops where the size of marbles it was that wet.

Eventually my turn came for the run, straight off and down the hard line, no problem although messed the turn at the bottom up a bit and had to kick to the top of the next mound. I spent the top half of the course looking for lines and watching out for the dangers. After the top part the track went down a steep drop with 2 line choices, chicken run or drop. I chose chicken run as it seemed faster, everyone who went for the drop slowed at the top before doing it, thus the chicken run at full pelt seemed quicker. After this it was a quick downhill into a sharp right hander then a left and onto some shingle, wow in the wet this was bad. Surfed/skidded my way round this then it was a typical trail centre run to the finish. 3:15 was my time. Waited at the bottom for Paul who eventually arrived 2 places back in 5:10.  He’d had a couple of offs at the top and on the shingle.

We rode back up the hill to the camp for a bit of lunch and whilst doing so my grip came off my handle bar. Oh well best finally give in and get some lock on grips. These fitted and a bit of lunch and it was time to hit the Trials for real.

1st up was the Hill Climb. Paul was the 1st person on the event to tackle this, FAIL, foot down about 4ft from the top. Next up was me, FAIL, again about 4ft from the top my back wheel slipped and I was gone.

Next we tackled the Skinny (ride across a 12ft plank of wood, easy). Paul went 1st again and went straight off into the water, FAIL. I was up next and took it a bit to quickly just falling off the end of the plank, FAIL.

Oh well we were both 2 down at this point, onto the Steps. Climb up 3 rocky steps then turn round at the top and come back down. Paul up 1st for this one again. “Only 1 persons failed so far” the steward said, so off Paul went. 1st step, foot down before he’d even gone got the back wheel to it, FAIL. I was up next, after shouting abuse at Paul and the fact I didn’t fail any of the practise tries, I suddenly became very conscious of messing it up. 1st step no probs, 2nd step easy, 3rd step (this was the shallowest and easiest)  whoops foot come out of the pedal and I stopped dead. Managed to track stand and hop the bike back up to gain control. Back down to the start, PASS, at last.

Next up was the Track Stand, ride to the top of a mound, stop before the line and then track stand for 10 seconds. Paul up 1st for this, 1,2,3,4,5,6, FAIL. Foot down! Me up next and I rode to the top and stopped about a foot back from the line. 1,2,3,4, moving a bit, 5,6, now solid as a rock, 7, 8, 9, 9 ½, 10 and a couple more for luck. PASS, again.

The final Trial was the See-Saw. Now I don’t have much luck with see-saws after jumping 6ft off the end of one in Glentress and falling of the one in Bedgebury. Paul up 1st and straight across, PASS! I’m up next and took it a bit fast, the see-saw only just touched the ground before I rode off the end of it. So that was our 5 trails completed. Graeme 2 penalties, Paul  4.

We headed back down to the camp and had a go on the “Pump Track”. I was managing 2 sometimes 3 laps without pedalling. Then suddenly whilst I was pulling up on my handle bars they snapped and came off in my hand. Crash land into the dirt, ouch. Back to Ride-On Bikes to see if they had a handle bar in stock. Yes they did a nice new Carbon Fibre Easton Low Riser that was 660mm wide (60mm wider than my current bar). Quick trip to the cash machine and I bought it. Fitted it and tried it out on the 2nd half of the downhill. Hmm wide bars are gonna take some getting used to. Oh well my 1st ever Downhill race on a bike that’s feeling unfamiliar with new grips and new wide riser handlebar.

We killed some time sitting round camp waiting for our start times on the Downhill come round. Paul was @ 4:25 and I was @ 4:35. We made our way up to the start and nervously waited our turns. It was only 7 weeks ago I broke my collarbone and now I’m doing a downhill race! Whilst waiting, the course got shut as someone had a massive off, Ambulance Landie the works. Then it was Paul’s turn as he headed off down the course. I waited the 10mins til it was my go. “Go on the 3rd beep”, so I went for it, straight down the fast line and hit the mud at the bottom, slowed massively and was on the back foot. Pedalled along the top section jumping a couple of rocks and taking lines I probably shouldn’t have, then it was the drop into the arena, I took the chicken run but absolutely flew into it, with my front wheel not even touching the ground til the bottom, pedalled straight down the next section and I was flying. Over a lip and a left hander, only just making it, into the tight right hander onto the shingles. Surfing through here speedway style with my new wide bars and the through the mud section and full chat through the corners and onto the “trial centre” section. Let the bike run loose the whole way to the finish, pedalling like mad right up to the line. Man that was fun, although very nervous the whole way down. 2:39 was my time, not to bad but the top rider got down in 2:05, best get more downhill practise in for next year. Paul got down in 3:06 which was a massive improvement over his practise run.

We headed back to camp for a well-earned beer and to catch the end of the downhill. We then endeavoured on the Orientbeering! We went to the Polaris stand and got our map marked where the clip point was, “it’s only a short 4km ride or so away”. So off we set with no water or spares. 5 miles later we eventually got to the clip, a lot further than anticipated! It was worth it though as the riding up in Cragg Quarry was very good. On the ride back I punctured and had to walk a bit until some of the guys from Singular past us and lent me some CO2 and a pump. Stans done its job and away we went back down to camp to collect our reward of a pint glass and a beer.

Spent the rest of the night drinking a few beers and watching the Pump Track action. Bit of standing round the camp fire and off to bed, man that was a busy day.

Up feeling confident for the race the next morning. We done a recce lap, it was a hard course. Not that technical just some steep climbs in places. There were also some “easy” routes that you could take to bypass the harder bits. Paul and I took turn on each one to decide what was the fastest line. Seemed the 1st hard section was the fastest by miles, however the other 2 the easy options were much quicker. 

The rules stated that you finished the on the lap your once the leader has completed his 3 laps, now with Nick Craig at the front of the field, it was gonna be a 2 lap race. With the staggered start I was starting 6mins behind the leaders and Paul 11mins. We lined up on the start line in our respective start groups and waited for the off. I took it easy at first knowing what was coming, however was quickly overtaking a few downhillers on big rigs. Once up the first climb I gunned it as hard as I could, there was no way I was going to let Paul catch me with the lead I had.

By the second lap the field had spread out, however going into the bermed section near the start of the lap it was a bit busy. There was a point with 3 switchback berms where the fastest line was straight through the middle of them without even going round them, even if it wasn’t the most fun line. I took this route and took 2 riders. About 2/3rds of the way through the lap I eventually got lapped by Nick Craig, excellent not far to go now can go flat out to the finish, so I did. I got to the finish line and there was a lot of confusion. Some people were doing another lap, some weren’t and the timing guys didn’t have a clue what was going on. I was shattered as I’d raced it like a 2 lap race. Paul joined me a few mins later and we decided to do another lap, however after chatting and looking at all the finishers we pulled back off the course and called it a day. Nobody really knew what was going on! Oh well we had fun.

We packed up camp and went and retrieved the Vito, then stayed to watch the prize giving. I even managed to grab a free T-Shirt. We had a really good weekend and will be doing it again, however next time we will be a little better prepared, ie know that the Orientbeering might be twice as long as stated and that if it says 3 laps do 3 laps whatever!