It was a beautiful but extremely cold morning that greeted the 170 trailquesters for the first Dark & White event of 2010, although several contestants nearly didn’t make it due to the overnight snowfall west of the Peak District.
There was a palpable excitement and energy as everyone was eager to get out and ride given the enforced lay-off during early January. As people got ready to start the time off the bike was clearly showing in some, with rusty preparation, forgotten camelbacks, watches and SI dibbers.
It was good to see a number of new faces along with the usual regulars. So after catching up with a few friends and explaining to several newbie’s the basics of the event I was ready for off. Collecting the map I decided in a clockwise route as there were more return options coming back in from the North West.
It took a while to get my eye in as I hesitated while looking for the first checkpoint, but I wasn’t the only one and I saw several people having difficulty with their navigation. While I was finding it hard, the going was good, the frozen ground making for fast off-road riding. That’s not to say it was all easy; front wheel washout was a constant threat on the regular patches of ice.
Heading into the last hour I was well ahead of my planned target of 60 points per hour and about to pick up the 25 point top score, a good points tally was on the cards. I turned for the home stretch down a rocky and icy track, it looked tricky but I cleared it without a single dab very pleasing, unfortunately the bike did not escape so easily and somehow I’d managed to mangle the granny ring and put a severe twist in a chain link.
The road climb out of the valley did not go smoothly, upending the bike showed the extent of the damage. I decided not to try and fix the chain there and then but save the time and nurse the bike back.
On balance I think it was the right decision but I decided it cost me 20 points and 5 places, well a person can dream! The last 50 minutes were frustrating but I still managed to pick up 45 points and was back 5 minutes early, for a well deserved cup of tea and a several biscuits.
The post race banter was of great riding and a few points PB’s confirmed that frozen ground had provided fast riding conditions. Top score went to super vet Derek Appleton with 303 points closely followed Darren Alexander with 300 points. The top lady was Margaret McPhillips with 250 points.
For full results (overall and split times) go to www.darkandwhite.co.uk/results-cross-country-fell-races.asp. Here’s hoping for equally good riding and weather at the next event on 14 February from Chelmorton Village Hall near Buxton.