Team bikemagic.com/shecycles.com – Robin Fortt, Henry Norman, Sarah Reeve and David Arthur (pic – Simon Kirk)
“Coffee to go please” (pic – Simon Kirk)
(pic – Simon Kirk)
There isn’t really a mountain bike “season” any more. But several things mark the end of the part of the year with a markedly higher density of events and vaguely acceptable weather – muddy trails, shorter days and the Cheddar Challenge. The Challenge has been running at Broadway House for 17 years and in that time has etched itself into mountain biking folklore as the big end of season finale.
The format is pretty simple – a six hour enduro on Saturday and a night time trial the same evening, then the choice of another six hours on Sunday or some traditional XC racing. The bikemagic.com/shecycles.com combined team entered Saturday’s event, and after the traditional last minute panic to find some number boards and zip ties, we got off to a fine start.
Like last year, it poured down with rain for most of the preceding week, but by some miracle Saturday dawned clear and sunny, and just as well, as the wet course needed drying out. The major downside of the heavy rainfall was that it forced the organisers to make some last minute course changes. Now the course simply went straight up Hell’s Hill, via one small diversion, then back down through Witches Wood. Short yes, with many averaging 15-20 minute laps, but a fun course. Picture it this way, you get all the climbing over and done with in the first 10 minutes, then have a hoot on the descent all the way back to the arena.
In something of a growing trend, we enlisted the services of three readers from bikemagic.com and shecycles.com to complete our team: Sarah Reeve, Henry Norman and Robin Fortt. And they were fast – after six hours riding we were placed third, just a few minutes adrift of the second-placed team. After a few hours wait for the darkness we were the last team to depart from the start ramp in the night time-trial – located handily outside the bar – and headed out with the mission to make up some time. And make up time we did. In just sixteen minutes we hauled past three (or was it four) teams and this burst of speed pushed us into second place overall. The Saracen team soundly beat us though, but they had considerably more support and some elite level riders…
So that was Cheddar 2005 for us. A few mad riders continued in Sunday’s six-hour event, the aptly named Cheddar Crunch category, and there was quite a good turnout of XC racers of all levels on Sunday. Our buddies over at Shred had mixed fortunes – they entered three teams, but due to a lack of riders two teams were disqualified before they even started. Despite this they carried on for the hell of it. It was Team 2 – Jason Davis, Nigel Smith, John Yeats and Peter Drew – who took the top podium spot in the Expert class.
Overall the event seemed a whole lot quieter than we remember, with fewer riders and trade stands than in previous years. Some of this can be attributed to the weather, but it’s a shame more people don’t have faith in this event. It’s a great weekend to cap a hectic summer of mountain biking. For it to remain on people’s list of must do events though, it needs something special next year. We hear there are rumours of some changes to the format next year, so watch this space…
Timelaps were there doing the results.
Visit the official Cheddar Challenge website for more info.
Visit Dynamic Lite Photography for more photos from the weekend.