Despite snow, Dark & White decided to put their trust in the weather forecast with its predicted thaw and announced on Thursday 9 December that the third round of the Winter Series would go ahead as planned.
That trust was repaid handsomely with a thaw that was even more widespread than they or anyone had anticipated. That’s not to say that the ice and snow had cleared completely and there was evidence of a keen frost awaiting the early competitors in the car park of the Holy Trinity Parish Centre close to Ecclesall Woods.
There was certainly no urgency to get out on the bikes early on as everyone waited patiently for the frost to clear. A few intrepid souls where ready for the off by 9 a.m. but the bulk of the competitors heading out into the suburbs of West Sheffield between 9.30 a.m. and 10.15 a.m.
The urban nature of the first few controls close to the start venue added a different accent to this event making street navigation tricky particularly given the scale of the map. But it was not long before you were out onto the hills and the fabulous bridleways and tracks of the northern Peak District.
The area used for the event was fairly compact given that the riding conditions were not expected to be particularly good bearing in mind that the whole place was under a foot of snow 3 days before the event – however what the event lacked in size it made up for in quality! With a mix of plenty of hills and thorny checkpoint placements there was definitely no obvious or easy route.
The tracks where in reasonable condition and the riding varied greatly from deep wet mud to ice and snow with foot deep ruts on the southern end of Houndkirk Road making for some tremendous and shall we say ‘interesting’ riding. Care had to be taken particularly on the untreated minor roads as there were patches of black ice waiting to ambush unsuspecting riders round every corner. Several people took tumbles, some more spectacularly than others, but great thanks to the rider who fell off in front of the video camera on Houndkirk Road (link below). He will remain nameless here to spare his blushes but I’m sure all his friends and work colleagues are fully aware.
In all it was a great event and given that the riding conditions were better than expected there were some cracking scores with several people clearing all the check points, notably local boy Killian Lomas who collected all 20 controls in an amazing time of 2:27:30 he must have an engine on that bike of his.
He was closely followed in the Vets class by Jonathan Edwards who also cleared the course in 2:52:26. In the open men’s class five riders cleared the course with the maximum score of 285 points, Patrick Higgins was the fastest in 2:42:43. Top lady was Rachel Sokal with a very creditable 235 points. First in the Super Vet Male category (age 50+) was Derek Appleton only just missing out on a clear round with a score of 283 points.
To find out how the rest of us mere mortals faired go to http://www.darkandwhite.co.uk/results-cross-country-fell-races.asp
In all a great event with a huge buzz in the parish hall afterwards as everyone tucked into tea, coffee and biscuits whilst dissecting route choice, describing technical dismounts or comparing bi-lateral dabbing techniques (falling off to you and me)!
The next round of the Winter Series for some classic Dark Peak biking is on 30 January 2011. More at www.darkandwhite.co.uk/trailquest-mountain-biking.asp