The Brighton Big Dog is a new race for us, despite it only being along the coast at Stanmer Park, just north of Brighton. Rick and Kym of Geared Bikes had mentioned this to me in the weeks leading up, but it was booked up. A ‘wanted’ ad in the mountain bike forums soon found an entry for me and we were in!
The race day programme has the kids age category Little Dog racing all morning, run by local club VC Jubilee and to BC rules, followed by the 6hr Big Dog starting at noon. The Big Dog can be raced solo, in pairs of as a team of 3. I raced in the vet men’s solo category. On the day we were joined by Tricky, of our New Mill’s Massif 3rd placed men’s team from Pivot24:12, also in the vet men’s solo.
First up was Edith in the u8’s. Her race was 3 laps of the kids course. This included a long draggy climb, downhill singletrack in the woods and then a return to the arena. Edith got a great start and was 2nd off the line behind the lead u8 boy. Keeping a high first lap pace, Edith was in 1st in the girls by a big margin. Lap 2 saw the 2nd placed girl draw closer, but then Edith put some big efforts in to open up the gap and win the race. Well done Edith on her first win!
Fred went next in the u10’s race. Fred also had a good start and was 2nd off the line. On the hill, Fred made a good move and took the lead before the downhill singletrack return. Unfortunately Fred clipped a pedal on a stump in the woods and crashed! 2 boys slipped past leaving Fred in 3rd. Chasing hard Fred closed the gap a little on 2nd, but couldn’t get back, finally finishing in 3rd. Good effort!
Tricky and I were up next for the Big Dog. By this time a DJ and massive sound system were up and running, pumping out cheesy tunes from our era – perfect! A short race briefing, a countdown to noon, and we were off. The first lap was slow as expected for an packed endurance race, but by the 2nd lap, the riders had spaced out a bit and I could get up my usual pace. The laps were tough though with a lot of climbing (300m?) per 6 mile lap. This was rewarded with miles of really fun singletrack, drop-offs, jumps, super-tight tree sections, and due to the hot dry weather – hero dust everywhere! I put a couple of quick laps in and felt good – loving this course. But on lap 4 I started to slow and could feel the start of some crampy twinges. In my poor prep for this, I only had one electrolyte bottle. The heat, the full gas climbs, and the relentless ‘attack’ nature of the course was taking its toll and I could have done with some salty drinks. I took that bottle and rode ‘light’ for a couple of laps to ride the cramp off. This sort of worked, but I lost time.. This put me on track for 7 laps, not the 8 I had planned. You have to finish before 6hr, so you need to make sure you can complete your final lap. But, still I managed to speed up a bit for lap 7 and finally finished at 5:25 and in 16thplace. Tricky finished 3 minutes ahead in 14th place. Both happy with that!
That was a great race on a really tough and fun course. Going along with the racing were lots of local stalls, a cake competition, and the a DJ pumping out classic tunes all day. Proper school disco feel. I finished my final lap to Kenny Loggin’s Footloose – doesn’t get better than that! (well it might if you are under 40…)
This is great day out. Really good racing for kids, solos, pairs and teams, a beautiful country park on the South Downs, great atmosphere and entertainment, and if you have the energy, there’s an after-party in at the Fortune of War on Brighton Beach. Not for us though- we were tired enough as it was and dinner and beds were calling….