The Fourth, modern-era Boltby Bash event took place this weekend in the tiny North Yorkshire village of Boltby, somewhere near Thirsk and Sutton Bank, in the middle of some stunning green Yorkshire hills. The main event is a modern-style enduro, but it has proved so popular, selling out in two hours back in November, that there is now a ‘sportive’ addition, where riders do the same course, but starting en-masse at 8am and without individual stage timing. Race directors Pete Wilkin and Chip Rafferty and their very cheerful crew made sure that the event kept the balance between ‘just serious enough’ and ‘far too fun’ and were seen between organising duties manning the litter picking, sorting the car parking and all of the other glam event organiser roles.
Between those ‘here for the craic’ riders and the racers speedy enough to have entered on time, there were around a thousand riders over the weekend. And it was a proper, old school, weekend event, with camping from the Friday night, a beer tent, food, a band on Saturday night and a very relaxed vibe. There were booths from the likes of Bird, Pace, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Hope and Wheelbase to keep shiny-hunters happy and to keep bikes working.
There were five stages to the event, with stage 5 being off limits until race day. After a chilly night, Saturday dawned grey and a little drizzly as keen racers set off for a recce of the other four stages. Those who lingered a little over breakfast, or who arrived at midday found brightening weather and eventually, a beautiful afternoon.
The courses themselves were a mix of moors-style close-cropped grass, off cambers and grassy drops along with fresh-feeling loamy trails in the woods that relied on some decent bike handling and corner-slapping prowess. There were smiles all round at the end of each stage (even on practice day) as racers swapped near-miss and ‘coulda woulda’ stories with each other.
Saturday evening treated the crowd to a glorious sunset as everyone got together to chat about the day and sink a beer or three. There was a great classic rock covers band (well liked, but a little too loud to be in the same tent as, so everyone listened from outside…). Chat was about the courses (all great, apparently, we didn’t hear a bad word said… the same couldn’t be said for the 1000m of climbing). More chat was had about the presence of Madison/Saracen pro downhiller Danny Hart, whose giant motorhome glided into the car park at dusk. Apparently just out for a bit of a fun pedal, he’d made the short trip down from the north east to take on some trails. Apparently sight unseen too.
The Sunday dawned mild and pleasant, with the weather improving as the day went on. The 200 or so riders of the Sportive event left en masse at 8am, but soon spread out after the first couple of stiff climbs up to Stage 1. The ‘proper’ enduro riders left in waves from 8.30am, with the last not going out until 1.30pm, by which time many of the sportive riders (ahem) were already back and tucking into their ice creams and first portion of cheesy chips.
In all, it was a great weekend of very casual racing which called to mind the original Boltby Bash of the nineties, or the NEMBA series of races from back then, and even tones of the early ‘Ard Rock Enduros, before everyone in the world started entering. Boltby Bash still retains that grass roots/village fete feel to it, so get entering for next year (in about November) if you want to join in the fun next summer.
Results can be found here: Boltby Bash Results
And the event Facebook page is here: Boltby Bash
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