Two days of partying for an afternoon of racing, sounded like a plan to me; only not being able to make it to Bristol for Friday night shenanigans meant a weekend of beer drinking was to be condensed into Saturday night. Lying in the tent, Sunday morning, with the world spinning the plan seemed a little flawed. A stone cold leg that hadn’t made into the sleeping bag reminded me I was alive but the overwhelming sense I was silly drunk the night before suggested that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I’d get my coat but I left it in someone’s gazebo.
It was doomed from the start really, arriving home to Harrogate and finding the sweet riding singlespeed waiting, locked up in the garage with the keys many miles away in Manchester my heart sank. An hour, two hacksaw blades, a buckled car jack and many panicked phone calls later and the Kryptonite D-lock sat where it had been all along, but a new bike was on the scene. This ‘new’ bike was ‘the old dreaded Pace’ singlespeed provided by Scoop. Furnished with gruesomely stiff original Pace rigid forks, even less forgiving superlight tyres and a Brooks saddle, my race was either going to be fast, or painful, or both.
|This was the scene at 3am…|
The less said about the Saturday night the better really, as I would have to try and remember it and I donít want to do that just in case. Still, there was drinking, merriment and rapping Canadians – enough for anyone really. Sunday however, after 2 hours of sobering up, over 200 people made their way down to the start to fight it out for their world rankings.
The course started with the obligatory long steady climb, which stretched the field out once theyíd run to their bikes laid in the start area and hung in trees. Some set off like the possessed while others finished their last beer or took photos before wandering casually over to their bikes and riding round stopping occasionally in true style to catch the sun, have a smoke or another beer.
The rest of the course was a mix of fire road climbs and singletrack descents, just the way it should be. Riding rigid though was taking its toll on the second lap and I never thought I’d say this but it was a relief to see the end of some sections of singletrack with my arms, calves and fingers all aching like crazy. The leaders, Jeff Wherlock from Andy Boyd and Joe Hayward were lapping at around the 45-50min mark, which meant I just avoided getting lapped, coming through for my second lap after about and hour and a half. The second lap was much like the first, giving out tubes and clif shots along the way and desperately jtrying to beat the tandem to the head of the singletrack.
Some who saw the state I was in on Sunday morning thought I wouldn’t make it but I claimed my first world championship finish after 3hrs, 15min, shocking but the weather, the trail, the atmosphere and the people made it an event to remember. Thanks go out from all who took part to all those who made it happen and the National Champs as well as SSWC2K+2 are eagerly awaited.