You had to breathe in, tuck in the elbows and mind your handlebars as nearly a thousand riders squeezed through the cosy village of Kington, Herefordshire. The Rough Ride (now supported by Climb On Bikes and Gary Fisher) has been getting more popular every year and in its third, its popularity was very evident.
This marks the end of a five-week tour of Welsh (or borders thereof) enduros for us, and we weren’t worried (much) that the weather forecast was for a day of rain. We don’t hold much faith in the accuracy of the forecaster’s predictions (especially where hilly areas and/or Wales are the subject of the predictions) and, true to form, the weather turned out to be mostly good. It wasn’t sunny, but it was very warm, with just a slight drizzle of rain towards the end.
The organisers proudly declared that there would be no fireroad in this event, but boy, there were times when I would have happily swapped windswept moorland for sheltered fireroads. Luckily the course was mostly dry and the battle against the energy-sapping grass was in our favour. It wasn’t the most technical ride ever, but there were some great highlights of superbly fast flowing descents and rocky sections to give the suspension a chance to have some fun.
We were going well once out of Kington and on to the first climb were there was plenty of space for riders to form groups – a tow from the Paul Lasenby-led bullet train from the top of the first climb upped the pace nicely. An hour in a strange squeaking developed from the drivetrain – the rear mech was on its last legs, fingers were crossed for that one. The rear mech would hold on to the end but the same couldn’t be said for the right pedal, which fell off after four hours. Some left-legged pedalling and lots of walking turned the final stages into something of an epic. I really hate walking. The free post-ride food from Wilf’s and one of the best event t-shirts we’ve had ensured that the day ended on a suitable high, though.
Mechanicals aside, it was a great ride and is already scribbled in the 2006 diary. If you like your rides hard then this if up your street, although pray for dry weather. We’d advise getting your entries in quick next year, though, as it’s likely to be full to bursting. Phil Weaver, the organiser said:
“The event went extremely well – I lost count of the number of handshakes and thanks I got yesterday – this is what makes us do it again each year! The total number of riders was around 950, with the (unjustified) dire weather forecasts putting off some of the expected on-the-line entries – but that helped to keep it within our 1,000 limit. We’ll definitely be back next year with the limit sticking at 1,000 as that looks to us to be about right. The last finishers got back at 8.45pm (40 minutes after the previous ones…) but they’d raised £2,500 for so it was well worth the wait – next year we are considering a staggered start to help those who expect to be out for a long time (and to help us/them get home earlier…). Average time for the 75km route was between 6 and 7 hours, with plenty of riders telling us it was harder and took longer than the 100s they have done recently – must be something to do with it being a ‘real’ cross country route – oh, and being a tad hilly. Next year we plan to introduce some new moorland sections to keep the event fresh and to tweak the campsite/parking arrangements to make it easier to fit everyone in. But the essentials will remain the same.”
Sounds good to us – there’ll be updates posted on the Rough Ride website at www.roughride.co.uk. No pics from BM for this one, but Sportpixs were there snapping away, so have a look at www.sportpixs.co.uk.