After the glorious sunshine of my last race it was only fitting that this one was going to be a wet one, well it is the Lake District!
Beeeeeeep beeeeeep alarm was going off and I awoke to the rain hammering it down accompanied with thick fog, I nearly turned over and went back to sleep.
During the drive upto Whinlatter it was clear today was going to be muddy to say the least, passing through some terrible weather on the way up. A few cars passed on the M6 with the bikes on their racks already equipped with mud spikes.
After hiding under the porch of the Cyclewise shop for a while it was race time, and by now the rain had stopped but unfortunately the damage to the stage’s had been done, all week the trails had been dry and dusty not anymore.
This was a blind race, with the stage’s ridden in any order. We started on Stage four, from the off this was off piste muddiness with big holes, slick roots and no grip till you reached the fire road at the end. Straight into the deepend.
After a long climb upto five we knew that this was going to be one of the faster stage’s as it was the trail centre decent on the South Loop which is rock based. Starting from the top straight into the first rock garden keeping speed through the tight greasy rocks was tricky and there were a couple of pedally sections in the middle that you could struggle on your in the wrong gear. There was one sharp flat right that caught a lot of people out at the end of the stage, coming into it fast if you didn’t make the turn you were over a drop to the road. Super stage for the weather conditions with next to mud!!
Stage 6 in the dry is a super tight fast loamy trail with natural jumps and drops, awesome. Today on the other hand all you can really say is mud mud and more mud, to the point where you wheels would barely turn as the bikes clogged up! Sense of humour failure ? Not me but some guys were throwing there bikes down shouting “this is shit” well not really its mud welcome to the Lakes!
A gently ride and mud shedding mission to stage seven, another off piste goodness in the dry! It started off really nice, steep and flowy even through the muddier sections until you reached the last fifty metres.
Coming into a right hander the mud just swallowed the bikes up for fun, most people had to run with or push the bikes here as wheels just jammed solid. Coming out of the mud there was a steep chute to ride to finish the stage, I threw my bike down as the wheels were seized and pushed the bike over the timing line. I was not the only one!
Heading over to the North loop we heard that stage one was the muddiest of the lot, no way it couldn’t get any muddier! We also found out the fastest stage of the day three had been cancelled due to a bad injury.
Reaching the start of stage one the marshall informed us that it was as muddy as the others but faster! As I dropped into the muddy abbyss this was super fun, with the steeper gradient it was pretty much mud surfing from top to bottom, foot out flat out! Well maybe not flat out but definitely foot out.
Stage 2 was for me the best of the day with a mix of everything we had raced or ridden so far and all without having to push or carry through the mud. It felt more like a race run as opposed to a mission to just get to then bottom.
That was one tough race wrestling the bike through the mud down the stage’s was super tiring. Just one more race of the day and that was back to the visitor centre for food and superb free beer in my unbiased opinion, even though I did brew it in my day job for Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery.
Mud, crud and beer! Bike wash queue was huge another beer it was!! Results in and I finished 37th / 130ish riders which considering the conditions it could have gone either way. Looking forward to next year and dry trails!