What a fantastic venue and an ace event. Lee Quarry and the Singletrack Weekender.
Up North about 2.5 hr trip up the M6 and a good start to the weekend with a top breakfast on the way at Bacup 2 hr Tesco’s well recommended. Parking at the bottom of the hill the first impressions are amazing, this place is way up in the sky, it’s huge. Riding up the hill you realise how steep it is too – just what you want on a downhill bike, lucky we don’t need them then 😉
The event starts with some practice so we started on the Downhill, its well worth checking out lines and speeds, we walked sections and the big gain was dropping down a sheer cliff rather than taking the pussy route which added an extra corner. this is where the crowds would gather for blood. The course was ace, a proper DH start tent right at the top then a fast off camber loose drop to a tricky hump just after a ditch that stalled many a good rider. Then a long mini pump section, some tricky rock gardens, fast turns and then a tricky stalling rock twisty sections. then the sheer drop, some fast speed on gravel into a bling 90 deg corner just after a jump…you coud not get it down early enough to brake even. Two more 90’s which could be slid over a bridge then into a mental off camber rock set of switchbacks that were super tricky to flow. The finale was a narrow very twisty trail centre type trail that had lots of blind corners right to the bottom of the hill. You then gave the organisers a practice time for your gridding. I posted 2min40 without giving it too much welly for safety. Pilch and Bob had a few moments and were a bit further back around 3 mins.
Some practice at the trials and we were confident they were no worries as we sat for la burger lunch in the quarry top after having our tents and stuff taken up to the top by a landrover and trailer. We watched the start of the first trial while we chilled, the crowds were loving it and the Singletrack boys were heckling in great style, no pressure then!
The first test was the uphill climb, the first bit was loose but manageable this was a section pass, but they added an extra kick which could gain u a full minute start advantage for the XC race on Sunday.
Bob got the first pass point but could not do the kicker, Pilch choose a gear too high and failed, while I growled my way to a +1min bonus, as in the picture. 3 of the other trials were dispatched with ease, skinny log tests for balance, a small see-saw, well done to Bob who had never even seen one before, and a tough step climb and then a set of 3 one foot drops to come back (think like Hills and dales gullet entry) A girl crashed here with a mega face plant and won a Ragley bike frame for her pain. The last one was a ride onto a hummock and then you had to trackstand in a box for 10 seconds…….sorry Glynn we all failed…doh!
So scores for These – Jack no time penalties, Pilch -2 mins and Bob -1. Ok for the XC boys. about 10 people though got everything for +1 minute gain.
Then the downhill, watching the fastest boys go was fun, and hearing the leader post a time of 2 mins dead made me feel pretty slow, and I havent felt so nervous waiting for my turn in ages. I had chosen the Singular Pegasus in exactly the same trim I have used for past few FNSS races and was up against loads of big bouncy big tyred bikes. With the Singletrack boys on the Tannoy taking the piss out of my bike choice I launched into my run. Getting over the fist stiff hump by choosing a superb direct line rather than follow the obvious wheel tracks I was rocking. Going way quicker than practice. Keeping it smooth and avoiding every possible punture rock I hit the mid point line choice way faster than expected and before I realised it I had taken the pussy line…..Grrrrr i was so angry with myself and slid round the extra corner drifting both wheels, thinking in my mind how the ST commentator would be calling me an XC jay boy for not taking the faster very steep line. The next section I pedalled like a nutter after every turn. It all went well and I had posted 2min28 Good enough for 3rd vet but second place was only a second faster, I was so annoyed the pussy line must have cost me 10 secs most people reckoned.
Pilch shows the first section of the DH track, as usual the camera dosent do it justice, just look how small those vehicles are, and how far away the houses at the bottom are. Bob had a safe run and posted around 2 mins 40 while Pilch hit a fast compression hard about halfway and finished the final section with a soft tyre and did well to post just over 3 mins. A lot more riders weren’t so lucky and there were a few injuries and lots of flats.
At night we re-fuelled in the local pub and at the Chinese then climbed the hill again and retired to the Quarry where there was a Huge bonfire, loads of midnight pump track action and the DH boys partying till 3am, proper old skool but no moaning from the XC boys. Ace. Singular sam was there and he loved the fact the XC boys were giving it the balls on his bikes, he gave me a free pair of Singular socks, how could I fail now, I had go faster socks.
The timings were listed and the fastest DH riders had a 0 min penalty down to 15 mins for the slowest riders or crashers. So after Trails penalties and DH ones were added About 6 riders actually gained 1 minute by getting perfect scores, the best vet had 1 min penalty and I was 1 min behind him on 2 mins. Bob had 6 mins while Pilch suffered on 9 minutes.
We started the XC race watching all those DH boys going up a very stiff climb right from the bottom of the hill on a very windy but bright Sunday morning. When it was my turn some riders had a 3 minute lead on me. I led my group up the hill and then set about the 20 min fantastic technical course which included everything you could think of in the way of fun riding trails, every single inch on rock. Ace downhills, some wicked high bermed swooping tracks down hillsides, rock gardens and several killer climbs. It was ace and I seemed to pass people with ease every where the choice of bike was the right one, and the Maxxis Crossmarks were hooking up a treat, even getting into battles with downhillers and making them so mad as you chased them downhill. 4 laps later I was none the wiser as we finished but no one overtook me all race and I was only 2 mins behind the Senior winner. Pilch got lapped as he could not do anything about that 9 min handicap, but Bob was loving the Anthem and had a ball even on the climbs.
Prizegiving time, all very fast and efficient, like the whole weekend, brilliant organisation and everyone stopped back for it, even council officials giving out the prizes. Chipps got to the Vets and I was confident I’d done enough for a podium visit. 2nd place was announced………It was Bob, brilliant but a shame he had to run early and missed his glory moment. That only meant one thing. I was officially the bestest old git allrounder mountainbiker, Oh yes…..Yippee……… but then you all knew that already 😉 RESULTS
God the trophys are good too, a Hope XC disk lazer cut and etched, so chuffed.
It was an ace weekend and lee Quary is a superb place to hold it, so many wicked tracks, trials obstacles and we didn’t even do all of them.