Here’s the report from what we reckon could be the future of mountain biking sport, for those who are finding other events a bit serious these days.
OrienBEERing is just like crappy old orienteering but with bikes and beers instead of tears. Cheap beer at the bottom of the hills, and good ale on the singletrack and hilltops. This unique event attracted almost 50 orienBEERers to Wareham Forest in Dorset for an afternoon of seeking out “checkpints” and consuming the hidden stashes of beer.
The brave pioneering athletes included many regular Dorset Rough Riders, a couple of blokes who rolled up with Bob bike trailers and are planning on cycling to Christchurch (big deal?) New Zealand (oh!), plus a few gangs from Dorchester, Swindon and Oxford.
Setting up the checkpints took a team of four over three hours. Three long hard hours of cycling with heavy rucksacks loaded with beers, marking checkpints, climbing up trees and down holes, and checking the beers for their suitability. Dan, one of the marshalls not only rode a 1940’s post office bike, ripping up the singletrack on his 60 pound single speed monster, but also rode in jeans and a tight white vest – Brit Repacker?
At the start, a small sea of confused looking people were given maps and quickly briefed, and then the race started – Le Mans style! It all kicked off when orienBEERing’s inventor Charlie downed a beer and crushed the can above his head, the competitors cheered and then charged towards their bikes under a shower of shaken beer, but then stood around looking at the maps for a few minutes. Eventually they all disappeared into the woods, leaving the marshalls to enjoy another cool beer.
Checkpint Charlie was a permanently stocked checkpint on top of an ancient hill fort, where competitors could roll up for a few easy pints and points. It turned out to be the place to hang out for the middle bit of the event. At one point there were about 25 bikers lying around enjoying a beer or two, much to the surprise of ramblers who were probably expecting an uncluttered view at the end of their long climb.
As the marshalls returned to the finish they came across Dennis Thorn with countless empty beer cans bent around his top tube and his mate Mark Hudson dragging a crippled bike behind him. Apparently a sudden gust of gravity dragged him off the trail and into a ditch at full speed, the frame made a nice “CRACK” sound and the front hub repositioned itself next to the bottom bracket. But bleeding Mark took it in his stride and dragged the bike several miles back to the finish before the deadline.
Beery momentum gradually carried all the competitors to the finish, many with tales of heroics and strange looks. Points were not only deducted for finishing late and for every sproket, but added for getting lost, bleeding, foul play and bribery. After some shonky maths the results were anounced with single speeders cheery Dennis and wobbly Mark getting a few extra points for crashing and bleeding, making them the inaugral World orienBEERing Champions. They received their world champ medals (old sproket sprayed gold on an old red bmx chain) and the star prize, a set of “aaaaah my retina” Lumicycle lights. Everyone else got goodies from the other cool sponsors UK Cycle Accessories, X-lite, Hope, Two Wheeled Trading, and the coolest local bike shops Xtreme, Primera, Horswills, Bicycle World, Off Camber and Westham’s. At the end of the day, a jolly good time was had by all in Dorset, with much adventure and lashings of beer.
Keep an ear out for the urban night orienBEERing this winter, and the second world champs next summer, where the Dorset Rough Riders will again treat you to some free beer, free goodies and good times. You can join the Dorset Rough Riders MTB Club by calling Dena or Dan on 01258 858 477.