Singletraction Chainless DH Race report & video

by singletrackjon 4

The guys from Singletraction, the Yorkshire based volunteer trailbuilding and advocacy group, recently held a chainless downhill race at Stainburn to celebrate ten years of trail building as well as to have an end of season jolly. Organiser Jason wrote up a report of a fun day out…

You know that moment when you realise you have started something you can’t hope to pull off. You’ve opened your big old gob and your bluff has been called! Well six months ago that was me.

Feeling pretty proud of the Descent Line Extension and the huge job of reinstating the flow to the top third, post Ed Oxley’s Flow course and inspired by Si B’s run minus his broken chain I uttered the fatal words: “ We should hold a Chainless event… …and a BBQ”.

At this point everybody said “sounds good, get on with it”. And that’s when the cold sweats started…

Video by Alec Birkbeck

Luckily for me SingletrAction’s nucleus of personnel is like a crack commando unit, small but perfectly formed with each member having his or her own special skills, think Ninja Turtles / A Team and you’ll be somewhere near*. Idea’s started to fly, a date was chosen, invites sent out, prizes were donated and the Chainless Challenge was born.

Tony keeps it low...

Six months flew by and race day dawned. Me and Si B got there early for a cheeky run or two before helping Libby and her boys set up the Big Top as a sign on area. The forecast had claimed we were in for another wet Sunday but the skies were baby blue. Only the remnants of Hurricane Katia could spoil the day.

The more competitive riders started laying down some serious practice runs. Rumours abound of secret training sessions with stopwatch’s gaffa taped to bars and choice of rear rubber, pasta suppers and EPO…

Before you knew it it was 11am and time to get ‘yo raceface on dude!’ I took an early slot using the excuse of having to take over from Knacker at the start gate.

Shuffle forward past the waiting crowd. Back wheel against the starting block, wishing I’d practiced the whole start thing, waiting what seems like an age, then:

“Rider in the gate”


“One, two, three, GO!”

Did I jump the start?

Not too fast through turn one or you’ll blow turn two.

Whoa, nearly lost the front, damn almost clipped that tree. Think smooth Jay, smooth!

Pull some kind of manual thing over the rollers and bugger me I clear the double!

“Don’t brake in the berm after the treeline.”

Youngest competitor George heads from the start line...

Balls! I braked.

“Now pump them boulders, pump, PUMP.” Try and pilot that front wheel through the narrow gaps and don’t brake for the big boulder.”

Coward, you braked.

Flatten the second drop and batter your way over the stream and across the line. How the hell did I get so out of breath without pedalling??

What a buzz. My first proper race (sorry, non-race) since School Sports Day.

I spent most of the day at the start gate and the banter was flying. Truthfully I think we all knew that James or Ell would win it with Knacker definitely in the mix. Poor Ell was on a borrowed jump bike as some thieving A hole stole his entire bike collection the week before.

First Runs:

As expected, James set a blistering time of 1.16.78 and we all knew we had our winner. Or did we?

Up sauntered Tony Heap. No slouch on a bike but not seen as a threat for the podium. How wrong the pundits can be. He knocked a full second off James’ time to the accompanying thud! as his riding buddies’ jaws hit the floor!

On his borrowed bike Ell slotted into second with a 1.16.28 which just left the trails designer to go.

Knacker cruised Albert over the line in 1.15.13 to head the podium after the first runs.

Second Runs:

James smashed his own time and took the lead only for Tony to once again thrill the crowd at the finish line (his entire family!) with a “Balls so big, how does he sit down?” 1.14.40

Ell dropped off the podium and in stepped Adam Leach at 1.15.07

Once again the huge crowd waited with baited breath for Craig “The Knacker” Smith to retake his top spot. It wasn’t to be though. 1.14.94 gave big T the champers and kisses from the brolly dollie (his mum)!!

After some gentle persuasion Mr Joeseph Rafferty gave the course a run and managed a very impressive 1.12. Shame he still had his CHAIN on 😉

First “Special Mention” goes to George Jackson. Five years old and piloted his Ridgeback down the whole route in 2.30.51. With PJ as your Dad some things are just inevitable 😉

Second Special Mention to Scott Weston aka Yoda for turning up in LYCRA (aargh, my eyes!). Oh, and riding his cyclocross bike down in 1.36.59

You could be forgiven for thinking that was it but no we still had the “Bunny Hop & Skid Contest” to go. This time there was no doubt, Joe Rafferty on his Santa Cruz carbon Nomad, minus seat & post showed us all how it’s done with the biggest hop of the day. WOW!

Bikes, beer and BBQ. You can't go far wrong.

In the “Skids Aren’t Just for Kids Contest” Knacker, still sore after his second place in the race made sure of a win by sliding clean through the skid zone, disappearing amongst some shrubs and so claiming the ‘Less than Golden Pants!’
Prizes were in plentiful supply, everybody who entered went home with something.

The winner (Tony Heap) received a unique SingletrAction cup and SingletrAction Duffbag. Second place (Craig “Knacker” Smith) got another unique cup and Polaris Bamboo Race Jersey and & third (Adam Leach) another cup and Duffbag.
Last but never least our very own Dave ‘Wannabrew’ Brayshaw who bagged last spot by smashing his target of under two minutes by over 15 seconds to receive the Great Rock Skills voucher.

James Turnbull received a Developing Young Talent prize of a session with ProRideGuides.

We also ran a guess Knackers time on his cross bike which Paul Feather won with an almost spot on 1.26, the actual time being 1.26.13, bagging himself the other ProRideGuide voucher.

Finally a massive thank you to all the generous support from shops, guides and businesses who donated a multitude of prizes which meant everyone went home a little bit a winner. Some of those generous soles are listed below, in no particular order.

Stif Cycles of Summerbridge, particularly Dickon.
Ed Oxley of Great Rock.
Hope Technology of Barnoldswick, long time and much appreciate supporters.
Crosstrax Bike Shop of Adel and Rodley, especially Ell and Ed.
ProRideGuides of Harrogate
Fenwicks Products, courtesy of Zyro

And again a massive thank you to the boys and girls of SingletrAction who turned this little idea into something incredibly special on the day.

And to my wife who saved the day with a case of beer!!

Of course the whole day would have been a waste of time without all the riders and spectators so give yourselves a big pat on the back.

See you in Spring for the next one…?

*Although we always have room for more movers and shakers

The Results:

  1. Tony Heap
  2. Craig Smith
  3. Adam Leach
  4. James Tag Milner
  5. Elliott Wood
  6. Paul Jackson
  7. James Day
  8. Steve Cockerham
  9. Chris Wood
  10. Steve Jackson
  11. Nick Turp
  12. Tim Armitage
  13. John Light
  14. Jason Ashworth
  15. Paul Winterbottom
  16. Nick (Moe) Burgin
  17. Chris Chilton
  18. Ben Waterfall
  19. James Turnbull
  20. Simon Booth
  21. Jerome Majorel
  22. patrick gillings
  23. Rob Rushworth
  24. Paul Stokes
  25. Anthony Oconnor
  26. Pete Blagg
  27.  Tim Sellors
  28. Scott (Yoda) Weston
  29. Ed Steele
  30. Dom Sockett
  31. Stu Devine
  32. Dave (Wannabrew) Brayshaw
  33. George Jackson

To find out more about who Singletraction are and how you can get involved in the many project that they work on, head to their website

Comments (4)

  1. Brilliant.
    (I still can’t ride like that either).

  2. Rumour has it that Heap had coaching from the ProRideGuide Rafferty boys? He’s now on the run from the law. 🙂

  3. Awesome. Thanks to STW for sticking our humble little effort on their front page.

    Next one is 15 April 2012.

  4. Great event, really enjoyed it! Looking forward to the next one.

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