Fast and furious action (Pic: Simon Kirk)
I’m on the last of four three-mile laps and fatigue is setting in. But it’s OK, as I’ve only entered the final round of the Soggy Bottom series for some fun. No, seriously, I’m here just here for the fun of taking part. At least, that’s what I told myself when I arrived in the car park, under a crystal blue sky and a glowing sun.
As soon as the gun goes though, “just for fun” is forgotten. The riders are snaking through the trees like a shoal of fish, jostling for position, the urge to get ahead comes from nowhere. Instantly the pace is pushing the heart rate into the red, elbows are out and all hell has just broken loose.
I’d thought that starting near the back would be more relaxed, but it’s almost as bad as starting near the front. Taking the riders through some narrow singletrack from the start possibly wasn’t the best plan to thin the field out, but it sure adds to the intensity and excitement of the racing. It was probably as good for the spectators as it was for the riders.
One by one we filed into the next singletrack section, over a nice jump and carry the speed as far as possible. There are several gangs of roots along here that need to be showed respect, or else they well rip your bike from under you. Adam Crisford knows all about these roots. At the last round he came a cropper and snapped his rear brake lever. You probably wouldn’t believe that he managed to snap the other brake lever in almost the exact same way this time around, but he did.
Other mechanicals brought several riders’ races to a premature end. Matt Parsons (team justride) sheared his rear mech in half on the practice lap. And teammate Claire Jennings suffered similar mechanical chaos, ending her race early. And this was the day all the local bike shops that usually are set up in the car park decided to stay at home!
Any regular racers who couldn’t attend due to Mothers Day commitments missed a great course. Yes, there was an ugly Tarmac climb, but it was short and the only major ascent. Almost the whole the course was a singletrack haven. Some were sections that have been regularly used this series, but also some from the annual Newnham 90k event. Still no river crossings, which I know a lot of riders were disappointed about. And maybe next year the series will be renamed to the Dry Bottoms, due to the unprecedented nice weather this winter…
I won’t bother boring you with who actually finished where, as you can download the results below: