This article first appeared on Bikemagic.com on 6 August 2009.
Brace yourselves, for the Big Dog is coming. In just over a week’s time Brighton’s Stanmer Park will host a new event inspired by an old one. The venue hosted the Long Good Saturday eight hour enduro last year, part of the G2 Revolver series. The LGS wasn’t going to happen again, but feedback from the event was so positive that a group of Brighton locals decided to revive it as the Brighton Big Dog.
In the spirit of accessibility, the organisers have come up with a multi-faceted format that should include something for pretty much everyone. The core of the event is a six hour enduro for solos, pairs or teams of three. There’s also the single lap “Oneder Dog” (see what they did there?) full-bore “time trial” format – rock up to the line any time after 1pm and you can see if you can get your name on the fast lap leaderboard.
2008′s Long Good Saturday event was sponsored by Gary Fisher, and the man himself was on hand. Not to be outdone on the figurehead front, the Big Dog organisers have managed to involve British MTB pioneer Max Glaskin. Max is a Brighton local, and organised the very first UK MTB event not far from Stanmer Park. He also co-founded the Mountain Bike Club that ran all the early races – readers with long memories may spot that the Big Dog logo is inspired by the MBC’s old St Bernard.
In keeping with that vaguely historical theme, Big Dog has teamed up with popular old-school bike site Retrobike.co.uk to promote the Open Retro category for bikes dating from 1995 or earlier. They’re fairly open-minded about it, you’re not going to get disqualified for having replaced your transmission at some point in the last 14 years. There’ll also be a Best In Show “concours” competition for older bikes, and it’s fair to say that your old iron will need to be “period correct” to be in with a chance of a prize.
It’s all about the course
The part of the Long Good Saturday that proved really popular was the course. Stanmer Park’s not a huge area, but it certainly packs in the singletrack (and some of it is very, very single indeed). We had the opportunity to preview the course recently and came away, well, giggling. Over to Dave for a moment:
“The Long Good Saturday was One of my personal highlights of 2008. It wasn’t so much the organisation and the atmosphere, both of which were flawless, but the course. It was easily one of the best UK courses I’d ever ridden.
“I’d never visited Stanmer Park before. In fact, I knew nothing of it until the event. I left vowing to come back. Never have I ridden a course that packed so much singletrack into such a small space. It goes up, down, traverses across the hillside, ducks between trees that have you tucking your elbows in and wiggling your entire body through, throws in some giggle-inducing descents, and chucks you out at the end, after some seven miles, into a green park. Lovely.
“So I was hugely disappointed that the Gary Fisher sponsored event wasn’t returning for this year, but that disappointment was to be thankfully short lived. The Big Dog has risen out of the ashes of that event. When an invite came to check out the course, I didn’t hesitate. A fortunate sunny day gave rise for the perfect recce of the course that Rory Hitchens, John Ashton, Ian Leitch and others have laid on. They’ve kept all the best bits of last year, and exploration of the woods (this is their local patch so they know the trails really rather well) and yielded even more singletrack. It’s top notch…”
Fun but tough
The BM Navigation-O-Matic bar-mounted mile-counting thing made the Big Dog course just under eight miles long with 1,100ft of climbing per lap. Or, looked at another way, 1,100ft of descending. There’s enough gradient on the course to avoid the constant pedalling that flatter courses demand to keep the speed up, which is definitely an upside to having to climb a bit.
Then of course there’s the party. The Big Dog is set up as a not-for-profit event – whatever’s left after everything’s been paid for will go behind the bar for what’s likely to prove a quite monumental evening shindig.
Want to know more? Of course you do – head for www.brightonbigdog.com for the lowdown…