The Brass Monkeys is an established 3 race winter endurance series run by Gorrick on some the best courses in the South.
The race durations are 2hr, 3hr for over 50s and fat bikes, and 4hrs. You pick your distance and then complete as many laps as possible including the lap you are on once the time is up.
I usually try and pick off the odd Brass Monkey as time allows, but this year I thought I’d race the whole 4hr series. Karen had decided not to race any of them and have the winter off racing. Well that was the start plan anyway!
Brass Monkeys Round 1 15/11/15 – Checkendon
Round 1 was due to be at Bordon – yay a local race! But alas, army manoeuvres meant it was changed to the pan-flat Checkendon instead. Checkendon combines tight rooty singletrack and long straights. It is unrelenting as there is nowhere to recover. In the wet it is particularly tough as the clay and tree mulch combine to form serious clag. Anyway, that’s where the race is, so I’d better get on with it. Unfortunately on the day I felt like I had an emerging cold. I thought I’d ride anyway and see how I felt. I started reasonably and stuck in the pack for the first couple of laps, then the wheels started to fall off and my cold hit hard. I abandoned at just over 2hrs, to avoid doing myself any further bother. Ah well, there’s always rounds 2 and 3….
Brass Monkeys Round 2 13/12/15– Frith Hill
Frith Hill is a great venue – fast drying, swoopy singletrack, bomb holes – great stuff. A bonus grandparent day meant Karen decided to race too in the 4hr vet race. I decided to switch to the 2hr race as I’d not packed in sufficient long rides by this point.
I started steady and a bit further back than I should have. This gave an easy first lap, with lots of overtaking later on. I pushed on hard for laps 2 and 3, almost cramping on lap 3, to finally finish 36th. Not great, but a fair reflection of my fitness.
Karen had a great race, and whilst losing sight of lead rider Donna Waring, rode hard and put a decent gap into the rest of the vet ladies. Keeping it consistent, Karen held her position and came in 2nd. A great ride!
Brass Monkeys Round 3 17/01/16 – ‘Area 51’ Frimley
This was new venue for us. Again we had a grandparent day, so we both raced. Thumbs up for grandparent days! The venue had a good covering of snow in the open sections and temperatures were sub-zero to start with. Again I raced the 2hr race and Karen raced the 4hr vet race. In a change from before, the 2hr race had multiple category starts. This resulted in a furious first lap in my race and I struggled to hold the pace. The first technical drop almost caught me out as I failed to see the sign, but luckily the bike got me out of trouble. The rest of the lap was like a hard xc course, fun but relentless with bomb holes, steep climbs, fast descents and snowy singletrack. I was on the verge of blowing up heading into lap 2 so I throttled back a lot and recovered a bit. Finishing lap 3 I thought I’d finished as my garmin had me on 2:03, but I was wrong and realising the mistake, downed a gel and went out for a final 4th lap. This was well worth it as I finally came in 21st, a 15place improvement on Round 2. I’d not got quite as fat over Christmas as I thought!
Karen had an awful first lap, well off the pace and behind the leaders. Pulling it together, Karen picked up the pace and got back up to 2ndon lap 2, and held it there in worsening conditions to finish 2nd again to Donna on 5 laps. Another great ride!
Overall, and baring my miserable Round 1, we’ve both really enjoyed this season’s Brass Monkeys. This is a great winter series and well worth doing to keep motivation up over the winter.