This year’s Big Dog entries are already being filled in and places are going fast so to encourage the racer in you here are a few reports from the race last year to give you a feel of the day.
All the photos were taken by Russ Gillespie and if you visit the site you can order the full size canvas to hang on your garage wall. Smaller photographs are also available and he has offered some small sizes for free. http://russgillespie.com/
There is an additional selection of photographs at the end of the report.
If you would like to add your own race report then email me at the usual address email@example.com. If I have omitted any report then my apologies and re-send it please.
So this was my first Big Dog and although I hope it will be the first of many, especially if the organisers can bring that weather again. The course was brilliant, but really tough, the first half just seem to be a relentless ascent, although it was worth if for the descents. I would like to say that my ‘local knowledge’ meant that I was able to shred the singletrack but to be honest I had nothing left in the tank so it was a matter of just sending the bike in the right direction. I really did struggle on those hills! Fortunately my partner was an animal and as result we, as a pair came a respectable 31st. Regardless of the pain and cramp it really was a great day and every one, on and off the course were really friendly and helpful, some pretty good prizes up for grabs as well. I could have sworn my name was on that green Decade Virsa, was just my size.
I don’t think I was firing on all cylinders but nonetheless I am determined to smash my time next year and now that my legs have stopped screaming it seems like there is no time like the present to start ‘training’ for next year so I am off out. However I couldn’t help but notice that most of the quick riders (overtaking me like I was standing still) were on hardtails with clipless pedals, so just before I go out I think might have a quick nose around the internet to see what I can buy to make me quicker, besides it has just started raining!!
Thanks to all involved in the organisation and anyone who cheered me on as I looked like I might self combust up the hills.
Tom Jackson (231)
I volunteered to do the out lap, and had a pretty good one. after starting fairly far back on the grid I gave it some welly up the grass climb and managed to pass lots of folk presumably saving themselves for the rest of the hill. The rest of the first lap was spent in a fair amount of pain, but I managed to go fast through the singletrack and gain some more places. Lost a few places when I managed a painful cartwheel going up that nasty singletrack uphill on the other side of the road getting my front wheel caught in the roots (witnessed by Paul Sydney Street). I recovered from my eye-watering collision with my unforgiving square top-tube enough to enjoy the rest of my lap, popping back out into the arena in 40.33, rather surprising Tad, who wasn’t ready at the changeover point.
My second lap was quicker (sub 40) with less ‘traffic’ through the singletrack, but those climbs didn’t get easier. Legs were OK until the Brighton Big Log, when I hopped it my calves cramped in a major way! I struggled up the last fireroad climb issuing expletives at my legs, which did the trick. Cramp under control I had a lovely blast down that last downhill run, passing 4 riders in the twisty singletrack before the bomb hole!
The next two laps were progressively slower (42.09, then 43.04) with those punishing climbs taking their toll on my legs, and having to slow down a bit where the the course got bumpier with braking ruts not agreeing with my rrrigid set-up. I wasn’t pushing too hard, as we had a comfortable lead but when I saw that my Tad wasn’t ready as I went through the arena on my fourth lap I headed out for another, before realising that there was no way the 2nd place team could catch us! We won the Retro Pairs by a comfortable lap and 3 minutes!
For me, the Big Dog has become one of the highlights of the Summer months. This was my third Big Dog and once again I teamed up with Pete (Woodsman). One thing I’ve enjoyed from previous years is getting out for some training rides with Pete and this was year was no exception. I’m still haunted by the memories of a 50 mile loop we did, where I was completely destroyed at the half way point until I discovered the recovery powers of onion bhajis at Tulley’s Farm.
Anyway, back to the race …
Pete and I have been happy with our results from the past 2 years (15th and 10th) and as the start approached I was feeling really nervous. I knew that Pete was faster than me through the singletrack (he is faster that most of us mere mortals) and had been pushing me hard during our training rides but I didn’t want to put in slower times than someone with 7 years on me!!!
As normal, I was down for the first lap. Pete claims this allows him a gentle warm up whilst I’m fighting the crowds in the singletrack. I suspect that it’s all down to the possibility of me having to ride the extra lap but wouldn’t ever suggest this to Pete – I’m sure this thought also gives his extra motivation during the race.
The first lap wasn’t too bad, I got slowed up a fair bit on the singletrack and struggled to pass too many people on the fireroads. I only saw a couple of off’s and buzzed a couple of rear tyres. The second lap also went fairly smoothly but by the third I was having to blast the singletrack to compensate for struggling on the climbs.
By the end of his third lap, Pete looked knackered and on the fourth my legs were cramping big time. We finished 12th in the pairs, one place behind the Sydney Street team. Pete beat my times every lap and the 9th lap was still elusive but getting closer as we finished with 31 minutes to spare. I still can’t comprehend how the first two teams managed to put 10 laps in.
It was good to see Mark B and Deadly out on the course marshalling and Russ on photographer duties I got high-fived by Mark, abused by Deadly and photographed by Russ.
The Hophead tasted great at the end and it was good to see a couple of the Tuesday night riders on the podium (well done to Paul into the Onederdog and Bryan in the Retro pairs).
The great trail conditions, atmosphere and lack of rain made it a perfect day.
I think there’s still some work to do on Pete to get him to “pair up” (or is that man up) again next year.
Brian L (234)
I only did a onederlap but I was pleased to beat 40 minutes (which was my goal) at 39.16. I couldn’t breathe for about 15 minutes, but two cups of tea and a bit of cake sorted me out. Definitely going to do a pairs team next year.
Adam Manning-Jones (529)
I was the sub in Simon’s team and not very fit. Simon ran first lap quicker than I expected in the crush but he probably did not get pushed much. I set my heart monitor limit to “less than death” and pedalled off and immediately got overtaken. Not the start I had hoped for but Badger’s was seemingly unexpected as everyone in front seemed to walk. With some complaints they made space so that I could ride up and then fluked the rise into Sting in the Tail. Local singletrack knowledge stole time on every trail but the uphills suit the young and lithe. Cheering at the top from Mark B found me an extra gear each lap and I managed to ride everything every time as I was never blocked. Enthusuastic cheering on my last lap saw the rider slowing me in front forced to move and allow me to pass. Expecting a younger rider he seemed annoyed and chased behind trying to regain the advantage all the way to a narrow gap between two trees in the last singletrack section. As we all know trees hurt. Simon rode his heart out and I tried but failed to have time for a double lap. Maybe next time.
Great lap times produced by many riders (still available on timelaps) and some great overall results.
Chris Noble who used to ride with us when he lived in Brighton came 5th overall. He now has sponsorship and his own racing website but will be back to ride this year. He normally manages a ride or two with us during the year which normally makes more a slightly faster paced ride than usual.