Charlie the Bikemonger had done a sterling job at organising last year's event in Swanage, Dorset. However, that was more of a 'one geared bimble' rather than a proper race format (heck - we spent more time in the pubs than we did riding!)
However, this year was held at Cannock Chase and was to be more fitting with the typical format of "proper-ish race followed by proper-ish party!
I'd been mulling over in my head whether to take it seriously and actually race..or to simply have a laugh and take it easy/drink... Chatting with Tim whilst on a ride the Saturday before it became official - I was in it to win it....
Here's the basic race format:
- Place your bike near the starting line
- Go 'round the corner' whilst the marshals drink beer and hide your bike in the undergrowth
- Gladiators will go on my second whistle....
- Run and find your bike
- Race, race, race
- Ride, drink beer, ride, drink beer
- Finish race and nearly vomit (applies to both the above options)
Here you can see the marshals doing their duty:
You can see me in my fetching 'sleeveless distasteful Hawaiian shirt'...
The chap in the foreground above grabbed his bike and was away like a whippet..he went on to become the overall race leader...
Those to seemed unstoppable and their places were sealed from the go really!
The real battle was for third place between myself (you know who I am), Jules Rider (sponsored chap - bald, very fit and fast) and Shaggy..
Here's a good shot of myself and Jules (wearing black and green) both grabbing our bikes at pretty much the same time..
From the off it seemed that myself and Jules (who, as it happens, was being cheered on by every bloody person we rode past!! All I heard was "GO ON JULES"!!! It's obvious really - he's sponsored by the shop 500m up the road so of course everyone turned up for him... Good on them!) were pretty much level pegging it. I'd take the front by a few yards for 3-400m, then he'd take the front.. We each had our 'forte' terrain - I could spin a bit quicker than he could, so would 'buzz' my way in front on the flat sections..on the first few laps he was climbing faster than I was so would creep ahead then...
After coming to the end of lap one we were sent in the wrong direction by the marshals (!!) and started riding a bit of the course again. A quick realisation that we'd not long ridden this section had us climbing back up the way we came, and we were then caught up by John "Shaggy" Ross (he has more Google presence than me..).
Then it became a 'three horse race' for third place.
It really was fan-ruddy-tastic, and I must offer great thanks to Shaggy and Julian for making the race so bloody hard yet so bloody enjoyable! It seemed there really wasn't much in it between all three of us, and each time we lapped round the marshals would always comment "oh you're together still"!
Come the final lap Shaggy had a proper burst of speed on one of the 'there and back' sections and seemed like he would be the 'leader of our pack', but after a mile or so myself and Jules clawed back the lead, and it seemed Shaggy was spent and dropped off the back..
There was only a few hundred metres left of the race - finishing with a slow climb out of the woods on a fairly steady incline, and then onto the gravel before the finish line.
Jules was about 50 meters in front going into the final climb, but seemed to be slowing as he neared the top.
I've NEVER engaged tactics in a race before, but this time something came over me and though "if he doesn't sprint for the finish, I could take him just before the line!"
I slowly crept up on him, staying about 15m back...until there was about 60m left...then I gave it my all!!!
I FLEW past him with my tired, scratched, mud speckled legs spinning at phenomenal pace! When I shot past him I could hear him cursing! There was little chance of him accelerating up to catch me, so I carried on giving it 95% (100% is unrealistic, and of course 110% is just ridiculous..) right up to the line..amidst the cheers of the drunken loons who'd just turned up for the beer and banter (and why not!!).
I could barely see or breathe, and leapt off my bike to almost be sick, yet was loving the race and was dead chuffed with my third place position!
Jules and Shaggy had been cracking competitors and companions at the same time - what a great race :-)
Once the heart rate had returned to near normal, there was plenty of time for drinks and banter at the start/finish line! It seemed that whatever the reason for turning up - to race, to ride, to watch, to jeer;everyone had fun!
Here's a few more pics taken by Lindsay Smith (available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Funerals)- cheers for the cracking shots!!
Something interesting (for interesting, read "probably boring") was our gear ratios..
- Jules 32:19
- Me 32:18
- Shaggy 32:17
A massive thanks to Taz, Keef, and other named/nameless organisers of SSUK2014. They've raised a bunch of cash for charidee, but also raised a lot of smiles and fantastic comments from all who attended!