Taking place at the end of May’s fantastic dry spell, Singletrack7 couldn’t have had better weather for this new take on semi-endurance racing. Much longer than a regular cross country race at seven hours, but with a short, fun, twisty 8km XC-worthy course around Catton Hall’s extensive grounds, it was going to be interesting to see what manner of racer turned up for it.
The event sold out before the ‘Long range weather’ ficklers had a chance to get their last minute entries in, so the 200-odd racers lining up at the start of the event under the banner were there for the long haul, rain or shine. There was a wide mix of riders – from the super-fast XC pairs smashing out lap after lap, to the ‘longest I’ve ever ridden’ first timers looking to dip a toe into solo mountain bike racing. All were welcome and, from our vantage points both out on the course and at the handover, all seemed to get on just fine. We didn’t hear a single cross word out on the course and every rider coming back was full of smiles.
Talking of the course, it was a new take on the much-ridden Catton Park, with some new and never-raced sections of singletrack included for the first time and a good mix of narrow, fun stuff and wide-open bits for overtaking. Although there was only about 120m of elevation change in a lap, they mostly came in short, sharp bursts, so it took some effort to keep speeds high (if you were into that kind of thing).
As for the finish, well, that’s where organiser Alex McNicol and his team had promised some surprises. There were features that are normally found in the wilder US cyclocross or singlespeed races to test the riders’ skills and senses of humour. While many of the obstacles had longer ride-arounds, there were many racers who entered into the spirit of things, taking on such features as:
The Planks of Terror
Three cyclocross barriers of increasing height – from a do-able 16cm up to a rather-challenging 26cm. These caught out many riders and were slowly destroyed during the event.
The Jump of Doooom!
The Jump of Doom has appeared in so many UK 24 hour races that it has become its own legend. Traditionally made with a couple of beer boxes, a thin sheet of plywood and a brick, it gives the racer a sense of satisfaction in jumping it, with very little chance of style or danger creeping into things. Alex admits that he may have over-built this one as it didn’t have the traditional sag in the middle as you hit it. Kudos to all who rode it!
The Ridge of Doom
An awkward, narrow, plank to ride up to and along. Again, this caught out riders and disappeared halfway through the event.
The Spiral of Confusion
A double spiral for riders to ride into and ride out of again. Despite the dizzying laps and the riders seemingly heading for each other, this caused the least problem for riders and seemed to go down very well. Especially as it led to the…
Singletrack Beer Shortcut
Riders had the option of taking a small cup of (delicious Kirkby Lonsdale) beer, or riding an extra 20 seconds in the wrong direction before reaching the end of the lap. Some riders took a beer every lap (ahem…) and some abstained. As the race reached its climax, though, this became a serious temptation for even the fastest riders as, hey 20 free seconds is 20 free seconds, and we saw some skinny folks in the beer aisle taking swigs.
This appeared for a lap. A chest-height wall of suds appeared next to the Fenwicks booth as riders entered the arena from their lap. Riders ploughed into in, bikes and bodies covered in sudsy goodness, much to the amusement of the crowd. Some riders only discovered the lack of braking performance caused by the detergent on the first descent of the next lap – but fortunately brake-feel returned reasonably rapidly.
And the sun shone! Despite overnight rain, which did little to soften the rock-hard ground (or even make for sketchy corners) the course stayed baked dry, hard and fast. There was some very spirited racing too – and an Excel file of the results can be downloaded here: Singletrack7_Results_14_5_17
In terms of a format, it seemed to have been a huge success. A fun enough course that you’d happily ride it all day, and a hard enough course that it was a challenge to do so at speed.
Our pal Dan Randon was there to shoot photos for us and took thousands of pics over the day. Dan has said that any money he makes from selling photos will go directly to Jenn Hill’s favourite charities of Cancer research UK & Macmillan Cancer Support
Here’s how to do that:
Either visit Dan Randon Photography find a photo you wish to purchase by browsing the thumbnail pages, you can click on an image to view a larger version.Hover over the larger image and highlight menu on the top left hand corner of the image. Choose the product type you wish to order, eg downloads and click add next to the option you require. When you have chosen your images that you wish to purchase click on the cart icon on the top right of the browser window and follow the instructions.
Some more of Dan’s pics.
If you have purchased digital products an email will be sent to you on how to obtain your images, for prints and other products you will receive an email advising you of your order and they will be sent directly to you by the photo lab.
Or go to: Roots & Rain using the search feature at the top of the thumbnail page you can search either by your race number OR surname. This will filter the results to show only images you have been tagged in. Certain images are untagged eg. podium and general event shots. You can view the untagged photos quickly by dropping down the Tagged? menu at the top of the thumbnail page and selecting untagged.
To purchase an image click on the image you wish to purchase and choose your digital option (low-res, med-res, or Full res). Once you have selected your images and image size click on the basket link at the top of the page and follow the instructions.