Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Ritchey Bristol Bike Fest - the slack view
I had been looking forward to this for weeks. While Jon took the tough route of soloing at Bristol, I snugged myself into a team of four. We were the Hungry Honey Badgers and consisted of good friends Tymo, James, Dom and me. We were in the singlespeed team category - a small niche perhaps, but it seems that all those in it decided to give the event the appropriate level of oomph.
Despite it's short length and probable not-huge height loss/gain, the Bristol course is always brutal, in the best way possible. We all agreed that despite feeling wrung out after single or double-laps, there was no point on the course that we didn't look forward to. In itself that's a rarity especially as the day wears on.
We were blessed on the Saturday with fair weather, the lightest of showers not even knocking down the dust in the early afternoon. Ending laps with a sheen of sweat under a coating of orange dust became the norm (the 6hr racers on Sunday were unfortunately not so well served by the weather). The 12 hours ticked by in that strange way that they do at endurance events - the day seems long as you are clock-watching much more than a normal day, but each stint on the bike seems to come around quickly all the same.
The course itself was a variation on the regular loop at Ashton Court, with thick nests of roots, slick looking rocks (even in the dry), fast singletrack on baked dirt, wider section both in and out of the woods and the new quarry section which rode much like a stretched-out BMX track - a lot of fun, especially after a few laps to get your eye in for how it all flowed.
We started with single laps and moved on to doubles as it felt good to speed straight into a new lap and the longer gaps between stints meant there was time to sit with friends and enjoy the sun - two things I associate very strongly with this event. It's worth mentioning how the balance always seems spot-on here; well organised, dialled course, always friendly and with the right balance of feel between grass-roots and polished pro event.
Our vague approach was to have fun and really enjoy the course, but also give it some beans if we felt able. We didn't keep an eye on our position and only looked at lap times in order to know when the rider who was out might be back in.
The toughness of the course told with four punctures between us, but we didn't ever seem to lose much time and as it turned out, laps were remarkably consistent between us, nearly all falling in the 24–26 minute range. Our friends and locals the LVIS Singlespeed Superstars were going around at a cracking rate, so we relaxed knowing we were further down the pecking order.
It was great to holler at Jon each lap (Jon may not agree!) and share a change-over encampment with our friends at KMP.
Despite the punctures, we'd had huge fun all day and after James railed-round for our final lap we were all enjoying a long-desired cold beer. Ambling over to the podium ceremonies I heard our name on the tannoy! We were second to the LVIS team and would have finished well in the regular team event - a very pleasant surprise.
Thanks again to my great team - same again next year?
Photo courtesy of Lisa Rowledge - thanks Lisa!