Been so busy this week only just got round to replying on here. Anyway... Some notes, comments and observations as a seasoned (done most since 2004) Mayhem rider (though not a competitive one).
Firstly, after the panic instilled by Wiggle's email days before the event, I was glad to find the camping area was very suitable for the event. Much more cosy than at Eastnor yes, but big enough and crucially flatter, and way better suited for the purpose. Though it would have been even better if the course ran through it!
Toilets and showers were on the whole very good, though some rubber/plastic drainage mats in the showers would have been nice so you don't have to stand on your shoes the whole time you're getting dressed/undressed.
Catering was good, service in the main catering tent actually faster and more efficient than I'd noticed in previous years. The small stalls of local produce was a nice touch, and the Chicken tikka kebab style thing I had just after my last lap was ace!
Shame I can't say the same for the woeful level of trade presence. I'll come to Wiggle in a moment, but not being able to buy what many would consider normal consumables at an event such as this is mind blowing! I know of at least 3 people who were looking for 10spd cassettes without any joy. Save for the usually joyful Exposure crew, and Extra selling Connex chains off for silly money, there was just about nothing there! Which brings me to my next point...
Wiggle... Why do they do it? They cover everything in their orange branding, but song actually do anything or promote anything (other than their logo) or try and sell anything! If I was managing that company, I'd be furious at opportunities lost for extra revenue at Mayhem. As a punter, I'm just furious that IMO Wiggle, more than the weather or anything else, have been the catalyst for the demise of Mountain Mayhem. With Saab Salomon as sponsors everything was far more open to trade, and people came along to the event to support and grab a few bargains. The trade arena used to be busy from Friday afternoon til well into Sunday afternoon, and because there were more people there, there was more atmosphere. Original Source stepped it up a notch again, cos everyone loves free Shower Gel (and the men loved the promo girls handing it out to them!). If you've paid £50 each essentially to go and experience a "mountain bike festival" (as Mayhem of old used to be), then for gods sake the main sponsor should be trying to make it bloody well feel like one! I think Wiggle do themselves more harm than good in sponsoring it but being so under active over the weekend. If they turned up with an enormous tent full of bargains, some promo girls running a few competitions or the like, it would easily pay for itself and more... Forget the course, Mayhem is about the festival style atmosphere, and sadly that's gone mainly since Wiggle took over.
And as for the course... Could have been worse, could have been better. I was pleased it was usefully shorter than a lap at Eastnor (as was just about everyone else I spoke to) at around 7 miles, but felt at least 2 of the very steep climbs were a bit pointless. I didn't get to ride it in the dry, but I'm confident I could get up them all when fresh, before it had been ridden by hundreds of others, I'd just drop to my easiest gear and winch up. As it was, my first lap started at 2pm and it was a bog by that point! I made it up the first 2 short steep climbs on my first 4 (of 5, was too tired by then) laps, but 2 of the later climbs were pretty much already unrideable only 2 hours into the race! I did really enjoy the first descent though, and the trail down by the lake was nice. Maybe a bit too much double track, but then again there was a lot less aggro overtaking manoeuvres this year than is usual at Eastnor I felt. I enjoyed the lap on the whole, just would have liked that there was a bit more variation to the climbing (some short sharp, some long and draggy), and some more interesting single track to it. 7/10 though I'd say so not bad for a first attempt on a new venue.
I am very much waiting for SITS to make a return next year though now, as that has become a more enjoyable event on the whole IMO. Though if Wiggle step aside for next year, and let another sponsor that knows how to run an event properly get involved, then Mayhem may well return to its former glory.