Looking for something a bit more social than the usual MTB event weekend? Possibly with a huge array of take-them-or-leave-them riding options covering the whole spectrum from competitive to “relaxed to point of stationariness”? And great food, live music and the company of several hundred like-minded riders?
Trail Break’s Big Wight (23-26 May, Isle of Wight) is what you’re looking for. It started in 1996 as the Wight Diamond Challenge, evolved into the Wight Diamond Festival and is now the Big Wight. The organisers say that the event’s “unique combination of superb riding, events to suit everyone, on site camping, catering, bar and entertainment have earned it a reputation as the best mountain bikers party on the calendar,” and people who’ve been all appear to agree.
The actual riding bits are centred around the Wight Trail Enduros and the Wight Diamond Navigator. The formats will be familiar to anyone who’s taken part in one of Trail Break’s popular dual event MTB weekends – the Enduros will be along the lines of the waymarked, choice of distance Trail Rides) and the Navigator is a two-day version of the usual checkpoints-make-prizes format. You can do two enduros, two days of Navigator racing, one of each, just one of one and spend the other day doing something else, whatever you like. All the options come with family-friendly options.
If the full Wight Diamond Navigator sounds a bit like hard work (and the “course” is spread out over the whole island, so it might well be) then there’s the Wight Diamond Light which uses pubs and cafes as checkpoints. For those actually looking for a harder ride, the Trail Enduros will include a new 100km Big Wight enduro.
As usual the main events will be complemented by a whole heap of side-show events and activities going on back at base. Trail Break will be erecting a huge marquee at the already fully-featured campsite, with food stalls, full bar and excellent live music. Saturday night sees The Bikini Beach Band performing “their pounding surf guitar slant to classics from Nirvana to Swan Lake” as part of the evening’s “surf noir” theme. We’re not at all sure what that is, but Trail Break’s Martin Harrison advises, “Think Beach Boys meet the Blues Brothers, Elvis meets Reservoir dogs. In a fez. Ray-Bans at night allowed. Retro Afro wigs always welcome.” So that’s cleared that up, then. There’ll be prizes for King and Queen of Surf Noir (“best and most original male and female interpretations of the Surf Noir theme”) and, perhaps inevitably, Best Hawaiian Shirt.
Sunday’s prize giving party will feature musical entertainment from The Hanging Baskets, who are pretty much the Trail Break Wight festival house band, having formed to play the original Wight Diamond. They’ve taken to trading as the Goondocks elsewhere, but for Big Wight they’re the Hanging Baskets again.
So there you go. Bikes, food, music, the odd drink – what could be better? Full details at www.trailbreak.co.uk/bigwight.