Sometimes the weather forecasters get it wrong, but in predicting a scorcher of a weekend for the Erlestoke Twelve, they got it bang on; the day proved to be extremely hot and will go down in the calendar as one of the hottest events of the year.
Over 300 people raced in one of the three races, the main 12-hour race and two 6-hour races running back-to-back, in a variety of categories from solo for the nutters and pairs and teams of four for the sane.
A course that surprised those who had never strayed into this part of Wiltshire consisted of large quantities of tightly packed singletrack. Running 740mm bars will be remembered as a mistake; clouting the bar ends on the trees that closely lined the trails isn’t something you want to be doing too often. It’s a course that reminded me very much of the one used by the Brighton Big Dog, only seemingly longer and harder.
For an area that looks mostly flat on the map, the area turned up a surprising amount of climbing. Most people commented that the course was harder than they thought it would be. The long undulating grass climb combined with the strong wind that was blowing across the fields was a hell of a drag.
The Erlestoke Twelve has been around for a few years, though its format has changed a little over that time. This latest incarnation seems to be the right recipe. The 12-hour riders get a few hours of night riding to contend with, while those not fancying such a long ride can opt for the 6-hour race, starting at the same time.
It’s perhaps no surprise that most 6-hour racers opted for the midday start. Very few lined up at 6pm, and it was very quiet from then on as a consequence. This had a noticeable impact on how busy the course and event felt, because up until 6pm the event had a really nice atmosphere: always plenty of people on course to pass and be passed by, and chat to from time to time.
A great event with a low-key atmosphere that is a nice antidote to the bigger over-subcribed events on the calendar, held in a lovely part of the countryside with one of the most fun, yet properly challenge courses we’ve ridden in a while.
These amazing photos were snapped by www.mbkphotos.co.uk – check out the website for more from the event.