Tuesday 23 August 2011

Big Dog – Throwing away the rule book

As the trees parted revealing the dry twisty trail, with the wheels gliding over the knobbly roots, I found an incredible sense of unity with the bike. Flying round the blind corners looking to catch the next rider, a sense surrounded me that this was the moment. The moment for which riding is all about, giving your all for the buzz, the excitement and the passion of racing on two wheels.

The Big Dog race was such fun with a wonderful course, the thrill of riding was evident all over the park. Loads of top names jostled for position as a sea of prizes flowed from the numerous sponsors. The air hummed as riders completed their lap on a high, to pass the honour onto their team mate to enter magical woods.
Spot the Redhill CC gazebo
Pausing between laps was a novelty for me as normally I ride solo. The burst of energy with your heart rate predominantly above 90% for the 45 minute lap got the juices flowing. I was also much more relaxed beforehand as I had no race plans, no lists of equipment, no nutrition schedules and no timing sheets. After throwing all my kit together at the last minute the night before, I sat back with a beer, which I normally bann before a race.

The shock of the first hill on the course was quite a wake up call as I had hardly warmed up. Hitting the single track trails for the first time took a while for me to get my eye in. The trees bent together with barely enough room for the handlebars to squeeze through, and the roots caught my wheels trying to trip me up. Fighting with the off-camber corner the other side of the A27 reminded me of the wasp nest disturbed 2 years ago. An attack from the blighters coupled with a reaction, brought my race to an abrupt end. This time there were no angry bullets as I climbed the rooty trail.

Picture by Alan Gayle

The fast flowing single track on the second half brought a smile to my face before I was spat out in sight of the finish line.
It was just the 1 lap, then I could rest. What a luxury, what do I do? This novel experience felt quite odd, perhaps I should be out doing another lap?
Relaxing with a cup of tea and wandering around the stands of bike goodies, I soak up the atmosphere of the arena. As my turn approaches and I hit the trails again. Wiser with the roots, I pick better lines and climb the hills. 20 minutes in with my heart thumping, the feel good factor overwhelms me. This is awesome! I tear through the single track with the trees giving way and power up the hills overtaking anything in sight. What a feeling of delight as the wheels skip over the roots and hold tight round the corners.

Coming to an abrupt end, the finish appeared leaving that buzz of excitement resonating in my bones.

A fantastic day, thanks to my team mates Gareth and Alan, the Big Dog crew and all those involved.


  1. Hey Richard - saw you a couple of times at the Big Dog, you're looking well! Didn't get to chat as I was in the marshall briefing the first time, at least I got a "Hey Richard!" in as you flew past my marshall point the 2nd time. Well done, and great to know you got a proper crack at the course this time!

  2. Hi Neil – Thanks for the “Hey Richard” it really helped. I didn’t see you afterwards to chat but hope you’re OK. Thanks for marshalling and keeping the wasps at bay.