You know how it goes, students, field, drink, carnage. There was also some racing too.
The BUSA championships. The single most anticipated event by every Student mountain biker in the country. Home of Pot noodle, Tesco value lager, and this year, a boat load of mud. Welcome to Eastridge. The venue had unfortunately been changed from Moelfre at short notice due to problems with the XC course so it was back to where the BUSA MTB champs started out 12 years ago.
Arriving on Friday morning we were greeted by a scene usually associated with Glastonbury, or a small countryside war zone. Being students, and of high intellect, the majority decided to enter the camping field at full throttle in their transits, before sliding to a firm stop, wheels still spinning. Without the incredible work of the tractor guys and their tow ropes we would all have been, frankly, f**ked.
After setting up camp in freezing conditions and gale force winds, the uplifts started and it has to be said they ran smoothly almost all weekend. There were a few long queues at times, and the uplift route was somewhat interesting with a few downhill dips catching people by surprise, but we all got to the top in the end.
If you were at the event then you’ll know what the top section of the DH course was like, and you can skip this paragraph whilst I bitch about it, if you weren’t then let me set the scene. Mud, lots of it, about three inches of the really sticky annoying kind, on a pretty much flat, wooded, section. If you stopped pedalling, you’d have stopped moving. The quicker line seemed to be to zig zag across the main line on top of the moss and untouched roots since the main line was just a tram track of stodginess through the gloop.
Luckily if you’d endured the top section and got to the road gap it made for some pretty interesting riding, with most people deciding it wasn’t for them, the guys with big cojones stood to gain a considerable amount of time by hitting the gap. The middle section consisted of a sweeping right hander strewn with loose rocks and then several rooty switchbacks and small drops. The soggy berms and slimy roots sorted the men from the boys. The final part of the middle section consisted of a very deceptive kicker (claimant of many spectacular casualties, including a broken collar bone or two) before going across the fire road and off two small drops out into the open.
Need I say anything about the last bit? Suppose I might as well… bog snorkel to the finish!
Throughout the weekend Warwick Uni played the never ending Metallica/Rage/Pendulum loop on their big sound system) and you’d never be too far away from hearing some sort of commentary “and this guy is pretty good, he’s pretty fast, oh and he’s done quite well” FANTASTIC! So many, many thanks to them and Si Paton for that.
Bonfires were the order of the evening, and having de-forested half of the hedge line everyone was toastie warm, smelling of smoke and drunk on whatever lager was on offer at the local supermarket back home. Happy Days.
Saturday’s racing went extremely smoothly with a very well organised team of Marshalls and race officials. The Cardiff Uni team secured the team podium place with their rider Phillip Shucksmith taking the individual men’s gold by almost 3 seconds. Due to the shortness of the course 0.8 of a second separated as many as 9 riders.
Number Name University Time
500 Phillip Shucksmith Cardiff 1:31.42
502 Mike Gray Bristol 1:34.29
503 Will Evans Swansea 1:35.60
The women’s racing was a little more open with Sue Mahony taking the gold for the second year in a row. A few words from Sue:
“It was a mega close run thing, it was make or break on my 2nd race run as I mucked up my first – I’d started my 1st run having forgotten to put my goggles on, then crashed in the rocks, got in a tizz, missed all my lines and swore my way to the bottom. 2nd run I kept it smoother going for a safer run and pulled it together. I really didn’t think I’d do it after first race runs where Jaymie had 10 seconds on me!”
Number Name University Time
768 Sue Mahony Bristol 2:09.05
767 Jaymie Mart Glasgow Caledonian 2:14.72
762 Ali McKerrow Bristol 3:01.38
The Saturday night party was great apparently with some dodgy Somerset home brew cider which was making the round. Only problem was the lack of bucking bronco. Unfortunately the owner of the bronco decided that if the van containing it couldn’t physically get into the field then it wasn’t coming out of the van. As far as they were concerned that probably wasn’t a bad decision. Bronco, beer, mud and students equals carnage, absolutely no doubt.
The wind finally died down on the Sunday morning and the previous evening’s devastation became apparent and for those who stuck around to watch the XC it was absolutely fantastic! Best spectating I’ve ever done for sure. Seeing a tandem overtaking solo guys and women doing drops that most of the men wouldn’t do, blokes in fairy outfits and jump bikes riding the XC course, brilliant! Big respect to those guys, putting a lot of the downhillers to shame through the bottom section of the course! A good number of the lycra brigade adopted the rigid Dead Sailor pose coming through the bottom section. Couple this with a cheeky off camber root hiding in the mud to the left of the chicken run which caught so many by surprise, it made great entertainment for the spectators.
Great to see such high spirits from the spectators despite the weather, all weekend shouts from Papa Lazarou of “Hello Daaaave!” could be heard throughout the woods with gongs and megaphones to accompany. All I can say is that even though the course was short, and muddy, and cold, it was a top laugh, and a cracking event. Bring on more mayhem next year!
If you haven’t seen it, check out the interview with Steve Parr, BUSA 2006 co-organiser, on the main site.
Event report by Tom Little and Tristan Veneer
Photos courtesy of Adrian@Ride-Central (contact him for prints) and Tristan Veneer