Monday Morning Debrief 80

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Good grief – WE BLOODY MADE IT!

With a whole load of pork pies, several gallons of coffee, and a little bit of magic (it was a goddamn miracle TBH…), it is with much pride and relief that we can inform you that Issue #112 of Singletrack Magazine is off to the printers! Rejoice! Now we can all look forward to not going to bed at 2am every night, and instead enjoy some of this glorious sunshine that’s been kindly sent our way.

And as it would appear, most of the nation enjoyed a similarly fabulous weekend of spring sunshine, with some truly spectacular conditions greeting those who raced, rode or ambled their way through the countryside over the past few days. Spring, we like you – you can stay!

Team Singletrack representing at #vallelujah @andisykes

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Our own team of #endurobro’s took full advantage of the post-deadline afterglow by jumping in the Singletrack Van (aka the Mystery Machine), and making their way up to Scotland for the TweedLove Vallelujah event. James, Andi & Ross donned their pressure suits, strapped inner tubes to their top tubes with electrical tape, and put on their most colourful riding kit to saddle up with a buttload of other riders to enjoy some of the very best trails in the Tweed Valley.

andi sykes vallelujah enduro race
Andi getting well BRAAAAP at Vallelujah!
james love vallelujah enduro race
James aka “The Dispatch Guy” in full-blown race mode.

You can check out the preliminary results from the 2017 TweedLove Vallelujah event here, though keep your eyes peeled on the website for a proper race report from The Three Stooges. A few more folks were hanging out in Tweed Valley over the weekend too, including our resident race weapon, Rachel Sokal;

vallelujah rachel sokal snow
A bit of snow greeted riders in some areas of the Vallelujah course.

This weekend I headed to the Tweedlove Vallelujah for my first ever go at Enduro racing. Far more accustomed to pedalling for hours on the Midlands’ flatlands, the concept of balls out riding on techy trails upon steep hills is all rather odd to me. But I achieved my goal of staying rubber side down for the whole race (and dabs don’t count, right?) and through the fortuity of a well timed birthday and some selective categorisation bagged a podium spot too. A great and perfectly organised event even down to the glorious weather. Now for a long slow pedal to recalibrate the system.” – Rachel Sokal.

Race time @tweedlovefest in the ☀️ can’t wait to see what the @santacruzbicycles #HightowerCC can do 😀

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Tom Nash got the chance to race in his own backyard, and like everyone else, was absolutely blown away with the stunning conditions that faced every rider who signed up for the popular event.

Hit the NORTH happened in Prestwich over the weekend, just outside of Manchester.

More events were held on elsewhere on the island, with the annual ‘Hit the NORTH’ coming to Prestwich just north of the Manchester city centre. Just over 200 riders turned up for the 2-hour enduro race (the original lap-based enduro format, not the nuskool death-gnar/DH-lite one), and slipped and slid their way around a course that took approximately 20 minutes for most riders to complete.

T’was muddy.

Despite the bluebird conditions and warming sunshine, the course was still resolutely boggy from weeks of being soaked through from persistent winter rain. If you want an idea of what competitors faced, get yourself some popcorn check out this brill little video of all the carnage!

Stunning human and local celebrity, David Hayward, basks in the spring sunshine up on top of the Moors from Todmorden.

Our own crash test Dummy, David Hayward, got out on some local Calderdale packhorse trails on the Pace RC127+ test bike. He’s changed the stock 2.8in plus tyres to a toothier Maxxis 2.5in Shorty/Minion combo that are proving to be a lot more predictable through the gloopy stuff. Stay tuned for a First Look article coming soon…

packhorse calder valley windmill diamondback david hayward
The trickery of the camera – that gradient right there is 20%

This weekend I found a freshly excavated, very old pack horse trail near Watergrove. It was previously visible as a vague line in the grass, with an upper part we’d sometimes push up, but we didn’t realise there were metre wide slabs underneath! It’s a 20% average gradient with some mean steps starting around the halfway point.” – David Hayward.

battle on the beach sunrise sunset
Oh spring sunshine, we like you a lot!

You often read about how much fun Battle on the Beach is. Let me say here, it’s also exhausting. Don’t let the lack of significant hills deceive you – after being blown along the beach, you then hit sandy single track with plenty of short, sharp climbs, and fire roads that are home to coastal headwinds that demand you put effort up to 11 when your legs are suggesting that effort level eight is more than enough over 45km. There was every sort of bike there too – from CX to fat bikes, which made it all the more interesting to see what coped best with which conditions! But so enjoyable – I was on a high all the way home (though that might have been the sugar rush from all the brownies I consumed post-ride…)” – Adele Mitchell.

Photo wizard, Pete Scullion, got this epic shot while up in Scotland over the weekend. Pete wasn’t at Vallelujah like the rest of Scotland’s population, but he was thoroughly soaking up the sunshine like everyone else, and we reckon he probably has everyone else trumped on the view!

Perfect rides don’t happen very often. The serendipitous coincidence of the right weather, the right location, the right mood, the right route, and the right company is something we dream about on a daily basis, but rarely get to enjoy • Arran promised much, and delivered more. We may only have been able to ride 65% of our route, and were carrying bikes for much longer than we were riding them. We scrambled across exposed ridges and through spring snow. When we could eventually ride, we found flowing bedrock and technical treats • And finally, as bodies tired, a raging thirst kicking in, our trail spat us out at the doors of a brewery. Perfection achieved • #wherewereyouwhenweweregettinghigh #hikeabikesalright #unsustainablyhighstoke

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Over in a similar part of the world, Tom Hill spent a significant amount of time carrying his mountain bike around on his shoulders. Apparently he did do some riding though…

Mountain biking: You’re doing it wrong.
Drove to Ardrossan on Friday night, slept in the van. Got the first ferry across to Brodick on Arran on Saturday morning. Dumped bags at B&B and headed up Goat Fell – the highest point on the island. It’s a brute of a climb… mostly bike-a-bike for the full 875m height. The last section is full on scrambling, and needed a bit of teamwork to get the bikes and ourselves up. A decent amount of snow added to the interest!
We then headed down… with bikes on backs again for 150m or so of descent. Fortunately things mellowed out and quickly turned into a fast, fun plummet, with loads of bedrock and technical interest. Sunday was involved more pedalling as we explored the south east of the island. Loads of lush singletrack and sea views. Hopped on the ferry home, making plans to return. Shock to the system to be back in the city today. Heartbreak. ” – Tom Hill.
Bike, a hike, and family hangouts – good weekend times for Ben Gerrish!
The man behind the lens, Ben Gerrish, also decided that carrying a bike could well be the future of mountain biking – perhaps we’re a bit late on this new trend??
Shared a hike up with the family then I had a solo snowy adventure over the tops once we got up there.” – Ben Gerrish.
hannah buttress cobble ns bikes rag gravel
Mountain biking: You’re doing it wrong.

Hannah swapped riser bars for drop bars on the weekend as part of her semi-pro training regime for the Dirty Reiver event, which is (Hannah: *EEEEK!*) barely a month away from now. Hannah’s been ragging the new NS Bikes RAG+ that she’s reviewing for, and she’ll be piloting it for the Dirty Reiver too.

I didn’t get out and race bikes over the weekend, but I did get stuck into a test bike we’ll be reviewing soon on It’s the Kona Hei Hei, and it comes in this rather lovely matte green colour that has been the perfect match for the emerging spring colours.

Workshop work time (and some overdue tidying…)

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Chipps did happen to race over the weekend at the Hit the NORTH event, but not before he got stuck into a bout of workshop harmonisation before departing the country this week. Yes, our International Man Of Mystery is soon to be on a plane yet again, with a mysterious destination on his radar that we shall be revealing in the not-too-distant future. Oh what mystique! Oh what intrigue! The daring life of such a travelled explorer!

antony snow polar bear photochop
Is this the cutest photo you have EVER seen?

Oh and then there was this. It wasn’t snowing over the weekend – the snow in this picture is actually from late last year, when our local column-writing extraordinaire, Antony, was modelling aboard some of the bikes from our Big Names Trail Bike Group Test. At least, we thought he was riding one of the test bikes – it would appear now, upon closer inspection, that Antony was indeed riding aboard a baby polar bear. So, there you go.

While some may be content being left with that visual, others may wish to have their attention turned elsewhere. So here’s a video of Chipps explaining a cassette that’s bigger than his head;

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