This coverage I dedicate to Dave Nowik, one of the longest and most active serving Godiva Trailriders member. Dave suffered severe stroke less than 2 days after SSUK 2015. Full and speedy recovery mate! We are with you and your family Big Man.
After extremely successful and very shonky 2014 SSUK edition in Cannock Chase the decisions has been made and Traditional Organizers Pen went to Wayne. That meant that 2015 UK Single Speed Champs will go north, to Yorkshire. Another almost local event for me. It would be rude not to take part. So I did 😀
Fast forward one year and on the sunny but chilly Friday morning I was packing all my stuff into Strudel and off I went.
Unfortunately as year before I was solitary representative of Poland. Both Kaza and Kuman dropped off because of family and job obligations.
Journey itself deserved separate paragraph as I managed to get lost 3 times, almost burned my clutch on 25% climb up the Sutton Bank and finally around 1pm arrived to Duncombe Park Estate.
Big field, big hills, woods, impressive estate building and herds of sheep. What more do you want xD ?
Martin and The Gang already arrived and started pitching event shelter. Newly acquired GT flags indicated our presence.
Many welcomes, quick tent installation and despite grey skies big bunch of riders decided to roll down to the village of Helmsley to check on local brewery.
Back to now much more dense populated camping area I was just in time for Champs course opening and first ride. After previous week downpours I was very sceptical about condition of the trails.
I the woods, very nice surprise. Apart of two, short sections of moderate bog all dry and almost dusty. The whole course served not very long (25+ minutes per lap) but very involving, technical and interesting ride. I made mental note to stop at The Corner of Doom for some action shooting.
I had my horror moment when I realized that I lost through-axle end cap. It was holding ok-ish on the conical, expanding bit but far from my comfort zone. Luckily for me one of the marshals found tiny-tiny, black alloy cap and returned it to me. Hawk-eye, nothing less 🙂
Back to now hiving campsite, quick grub, registration at organizers shelter and I was ready to have laugh and joke during Mini Bike Races.
Sure thing, minor SSUK participants got massive advantage over grownups but they did not gave field without uttering good fight.
Sadly not without collateral damage. In the quarters Steve Day, prime contender to Championship title and 6 hours enduro favourite crashed badly on last corner of firs lap and retired with injured shoulder. Shame… After that youth dominated entirely. I gave it a try myself and was really surprised how hard it is to race 12” wheeled bike xD
Social night ended up around 4am with plenty of stories, laughs and even more beer. Short but intense shower half way through the night raised some questions in regards to course condition but it was actually not heavy enough to do some real damage or convert trails into impassable bog.
Saturday morning started up chilly and windy but weather improved towards 10:30 when Championship Event was scheduled to take place.
Traditionally participants were asked to leave their rigs in one place to allow organizers to play hide and seek. This time with a twist. We were all ordered to get back to the camp site. That meant run or dignified walk back to estate to retrieve your bike and uphill start. As usual some people took it seriously but most decided to retain their poise and sociably, without rush walked down the hill.
Personally I opted for 2 laps only with first for some picture work and second to have fun and enjoy riding.
It was especially entertaining to watch “Vintage” category riders (26”, rim brakes only). The absolute pearl in this bunch was original Klein Pulse ridden during 1996 Atlanta Olympics XC race.
Also Dinosaur Men that went extra mile to bring some smile into Fancy Dress category earned well deserved applause.
Shortly after last lap of Championship race 6 hours enduro maniacs took over the course. Big props to these guys and gals, especially to Men category winner who managed 13 lap in less than 6 hours on top of 7 from main race.
In this place it is worthy to mention that GT own Sophie arrived 3rd in the main race and as an only Lady first in 6 hour enduro with respectable 7 laps under her belt on top of 4 in Champs event.
In the meantime of racing competition all not involved were able to sample bikes on Morelarge, Travers, Singular and Raleigh UK stands. Salsa Bucksaw, became my new object of secret desire. Even riding on the grassy flat field was pretty eye opening.
Next scheduled point was hog roast dinner right after enduro event finish. Waiting was spiced with more socialising, interesting talks with other participants and industry bods. Also after some careful checking and deliberations over small volumes I decided that Yorkshire Cider is drinkable beverage 😀
Hog roast disappeared very quickly, but that is not a big surprise. Meal with cyclists is like feeding time in ZOO after all xD
The final of the evening in a massive event shelter saw us through multiple prizes, freebies and the most important choosing of next year host.
Sponsors as usually threw some nice stuff. We had Karate Monkey frame, Salsa El Mariachi frame, Stooge and (cherry on the top) Travers titanium frame.
After all stickers, t-shirts and Squirt samples were evenly distributed among the crowd, after Yorkshire hat was auctioned for eye watering 100 quid Wayne ordered wrestling match between two candidates to the honour of 2016 SSUK organizing.
Both contenders from Coventry and Milton Keynes were liberally lubricated with Squirt and locked themselves in “deadly” grip. As they both “fought” gallantly it was down to spectators to decide who will be next year SSUK host. A moment of tension and Wayne is passing Organizers Pen into the hands of Matt, one of long standing GT-ers. Sooo… Coventry 🙂 Or more likely Nuneaton and nearby area. Because Milton Keynes representative was very happy to postpone their effort for another year it was decided that 2017 will automatically pass to Buckinghamshire brigade at the end of Midlands’s event. Evening was ending up with solid performance by Atomic Raygun band.
My personal highlight of the evening-night? Cheese party in GT event shelter.
Martin (GT El Presidente) was a bit grumpy about honour of SSUK 2016 organization but he get over that in following week.
Sunday morning, seen universal packing and clearing effort. Despite long night I managed to get up pretty early. As Duncombe Park course was off limit for cycling on Sunday Wayne suggested ride around Sutton Bank for these still not fully satisfied with Friday and Saturday. As a one of these I decided to pack up ASAP, gulp quick breakfast, say my farewell to everybody and head west for some more biking.
Initial feel of Sutton Bank red loop was a bit disappointing. Some man made trail in the local wood and later on field tracks on top of tarmac joining sections. All pretty flat and pedalling.
- “Am I back to Coventry?
Luckily very soon it all changed into open moors single and double tracks, bridleways and technical forest paths. Weather was really brilliant and I was very happy that I decided to ride there.
Traditional after ride tea and slice of carrot cake made for very pleasant finale of perfect weekend.
Shy of 2 hour drive back home seen me in Rotherham just in time for tea.
Will definitely try some more riding around Sutton Bank as it is not so far and area got plenty of potential. Should be back soon with OS Map and some gears to make it even more enjoyable and fully ride able.
Bring on 2016 😀
Full photographic coverage at: SSUK 2015 4-6.09.2015 plus Sutton Bank