After the dust has settled

As the last of the competitor’s cars left Head Down forest, the QECP Collective brought down the over 2km worth of Marzocchi race tape as the dust settled around them …. literally. In the UK it’s not often that you say that the trails could do with some rain but a few days before the race would have been nice. Instead it just added another aspect to the already technical trails. They were a mixture of pretty much everything. Steep, off camber rooty sections that preceded a sharp climb, swooping loam laden singletrack through pine trees, a fast gulley, switchbacks, swooping trails with berms, jumps and drops and the last piece of trail to leave everyone buzzing with adrenaline, a steep slope where the trail weaved through trees, leaving some people playing human pinball with riders ending up upside down, sideways or if they were lucky – remaining upright! And if that wasn’t enough it was also a scorching hot day leaving some to wilt in the midday sun to pull out of the race and look for shade.

There was a great atmosphere all day from the first moment members of the Collective turned up at 7am to set up. Music systems were all around the forest to keep riders pumped for racing and to take their mind of the transition to the top. There were some great riders in the line up including Chris Smith, former downhill world cup rider Liam Mason and fellow S4P reprobate Christian Fairclough, as well as local Strava beast Rob Francis. There were five categories: Pro, Sport, Fun, Women and U18, which all proved to be very competitive and closely contested to the final steep finish which by the end of the day was packed with spectators and competitors encouraging racers with loud cheers to the finish line.

The race village, which was in a clearing in the trees which gave much needed shelter from the sun, held the prize giving as racers waited to find out who won and who would be taking away the extraordinary spot prizes. Podium prizes were supplied by Windwave, Exempt clothing, Crank Cycles, Tamed Earth, DC Cycles and Solent Cycles. The “small” spot prizes were supplied by DC Cycles (3 helmets and some Thor T shirts ), Exempt Clothing (1 T shirt and 2 hoodies), Hargroves Cycles (track pump and energy gels for all racers at the start), Solent Powder Finishers (gave away a paint job for frame and forks for the tattiest bike) and the highly talented Beer Babe (recycled chainring clock). Then came the BIG spot prizes, which were chosen at random from the bucket of race numbers that the exhausted participants had taken off after finishing. First out of the bucket for a pair of Marzocchi 55’s was Graeme Bowler who looked rather happy with his £900 forks! And finally the holiday for two with Pure Mountains mountain bike holiday worth £1600 went to Chris Waddup, who was the envy of pretty much everyone in the race village! We look forward to hearing how Graeme is getting on with his forks and how Chris enjoys the sweet sweet trails of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Spain.

The way local bike shops, businesses and Pure Mountains came to support us is truly extraordinary and we are very thankful for their support as it means we can put more money towards our next project – building a new blue trail at Queen Elizabeth Country Park! The list of sponsors and websites are listed below so please check them out as they are supporting grass roots mountain biking and if you are thinking of a mountain biking holiday then do check out Pure Mountains (a few of the Collective hope to be visiting them this year). Finally a big thanks to the all the people that dug the trails and marshalled the race. We are all volunteers and do it for the love of our sport and all proceeds go towards trail building at QECP. We thank you for the love you have shown us in the appreciation of our trails. Hope to see you all again next year! Viva la trail revolution!

Thanks to Edwin Jones for these photos. For more race photos go to our Facebook page