Come on! What a fantastic weekend, was chucking it down on the drive over, stopped raining as I got to leeds but Dalby was nice if a little overcast. Parked up and pitched the tent quick and got out on the pub ride. Some swoopy singletrack from the off, down through the trees, a short sharp climb which had loads off and walking, more twisty downs a big climb and then a spin across the moors to the first pub on a village green, sun was out I was too hot in my waterproof but it was lovely. 60 or so mountain bikers sitting drinking in the sun. I met Mr Sparkle (from the STW rivi ride) there and we got chatting along with loads of strangers, a really friendly vibe. A pint followed by a fast road downhill got everyone giggly with some rash overtaking manoeuvres as we raced down but the hill that followed was a killer. Proper steep long tarmac, my head was pounding when I got to the top but I learned a useful zig zag technique for this sort of climb from Mr S. Another pub stop then back to the camp site. Rollapaluza was on in the beer tent, I'd decided to stay well away from it, legs already tired from the pub ride. Mr S agreed but after watching for an hour he turned to me and said "we having a go then?" yeah why not. We got strapped in and set off (after a false start by me) longest 25seconds of my life. As we pedalled like mad the commenter counted down the metres, "400", "300", "200" long pause "100", incredibly long pause "50"......how much longer?....more pause...."25" eh? what? why have I not finished yet? "Finished!" Agony, legs were jelly and I spent a while just hunched over the bars trying to breath. I just beat Mr S but was way off the qualify times. More drinking ensued with a few getting very wasted then having trouble riding back to their campsite.
Race day dawned and I got out the BBQ, bacon and brie butties for breaky mmm I offered one to the racer looking type in the tent next to mine but he turned it down cos he throws up if he eats before a race - oh yeah good point. Hmm shame to waste this bacon so I polished it off anyway. (That racey type was George who went on to win)
Before the start we rode to the trees and stashed our bikes then retreated to the start line for our Le Mans start, meanwhile organisers were busy hiding our bikes. As we started loads of people ran up to (not) find their bikes, there were a few piles of inbreds and as I stood looking at one pile a guy shifted a bike off another and handed it to me telling me to move it, I looked down to see it was mine - result! So I set off in the first 40 or so, pushing hard, after a couple of guys came past me while I was waiting for others to move at bottlenecks I decided to adopt a similar technique, I passed a few, riding out of my skin hammering the climbs and flats, it was a bit annoying passing people on the climbs then having to wait at bottlenecks and everyone catching you up. One or two who where fast uphill were getting phased by pretty easy rocky bits, I'd nearly run into them as they stalled then they'd charge away, ah well. I could taste my breakfast and was worried I was gonna blow (and/or throw) up, I had my second lap power gel halfway round the first! Got thrown off on a rooty section under the trees but no damage and after that it thinned out a bit. Second lap was better, no one in front or behind for most of the first half meant I could hit the singletrack fast and carry my speed better so despite not pedalling as hard I reckon I was going just as fast. I passed a few more later on, got covered in stella for not stopping at the beer stop (no cider :-( ) and finished my second lap 1hr 45 after we had started. No one was keeping finishing positions beyond 1 and 2 so dunno how I did, a guy I lapped said there were only "10 or 12" had passed him and a few who finished the same time as me reckoned top 20 looked about right so that'll do me. The course was ace, loads and loads of singletrack, some woodwork, some rocky gullys, a really nice switchback-y dusty climb, a killer fireroad climb and a few manmade rock features. A big rock drop onto the fire road was pretty scary, tight hairpin then very steep roll in, would have been fun on the right bike at a relaxed pace but not racing saddle way up and ragged breathing. First time round a guy stalled infront of me so I ran it, second time I went in too tight, had to endo and swing the back end round, the front wheel slipped and I ended up trackstanding right on the entrance to the drop, quick push of the pedals and I made it down, unintentionally unclipping one foot as I bottomed out on the fireroad. Sketchiest of sketch but a clean. Afterwards I even had a chance to play in the skills area with jumps, berms and skinnys, brilliant.
Overall a corking weekend with brilliant riding and great atmosphere, I'll definitley be back to Dalby and I will be at SSUK10 if all goes well. Pics shamelessly pinched from others:-
Inbred mountain by Ali via Trio
Me by Martin