The Mountain Bike Club Champs is always a favourite on the champs calendar – and this year was no exception on the 14th November. This was also the first time we hosted open Go-Ride XC races at the club, and whilst the atrocious weather kept a few riders away in the afternoon, we saw a fantastic turnout for our first event of this nature. What started out as a promising, relatively clear outlook around 7am eventually manifested into weather mood swings of heavy rain and light drizzle. Needless to say, this resulted in a rather slippery and muddy course in some places – and some very muddy faces after the races! We are very very proud of all of you who took part – you showed resilience and good spirit, and every single one you certainly earned the “Mudslingers” title at this event! Well done.
The Volunteers – Coaches, Helpers, Mechanics, Young Volunteers and anyone who contributed to the day – deserve a resounding THANK YOU for the course set-up and takedown, standing in the rain judging and marshalling, supporting riders on the course with recon, fixing punctures and cleaning bikes, patching up scrapes and tending to wounds, and just generally taking the time to make the day a success. Many arrived at 7am and were still tidying up and cleaning mud at 4pm inside the clubhouse…
We asked a few of our Volunteers to tell us about their experience of the day. Read on to hear from Coaches Alex and Dave, as well as Young Volunteers Seth, Ellen and Ciaran…
Enjoy the following reports from Coaches Alex and Dave…
By Alex Araujo, MTB Coach
“Mudslingers: The Clue’s in the Name…
As tradition would have it, the Mudslingers’ Club Championships were true to their name. Heavy rains kicked off early, and didn’t let up for the entire day. By afternoon, when our inaugural Go-Ride MTB XC races took place, the course looked like a cross between marsh and swamp, and competitors like swamp monsters.
The U6 and U8 categories were run in ‘The Bowl’, with wet conditions making a windy, hilly course even more challenging than usual. Spirits were high though, and smiles shone through some pretty mucky faces.
This year’s long course ventured further afield than normal, taking in Coach Brent’s now-famous “Rock Garden”, quick descents, ramps, and pallets; enabling kids to make use of the past year’s well-earned technical skills.
The U10s broke ground, having previewed the coursed with a couple of reconnaissance laps. Most opted for the quicker, more challenging routes at two of the waypoints, making for a hard-fought two laps of the course. The U12s followed with three laps of the course, and the U14s and U16s four and five laps, respectively.
Despite the increasingly treacherous conditions, there were surprisingly few mechanicals or abandons – again, testament to the impressive skills our young off-roaders have developed over the past year. Gritty determination from the Mudslingers in wet and miserable weather shone through in spades, and us Coaches are extremely proud of their performance.
Our inaugural Go-Ride series of mountain bike races took place on the long course in the afternoon, though weather conditions limited the turnout. Representation from the community and other clubs was strong, and we look forward to hosting similar events in the future.
A hearty congratulations to the Mudslingers and other participants in the day’s offroad racing, and stay tuned for the final results.”
By Dave George, Head Coach
“We love Club Champs!
They are always a pleasure to facilitate and the level of participation is better each year. Year on year, your Mountain Bike Coaches go the extra mile in designing circuits that are challenging, interesting and fun, making excellent use of what is essentially a road circuit. I was talking to Mac (from British Cycling) who has been setting up courses for years, and he commented on what an amazing course your Coaches and other Volunteers had created – he’s even taken note to use parts for his future events!
MTB Clumb Champs are long days – this year made even longer by the addition of a Go-Ride XC event using the same courses in the afternoon. So, early on Saturday morning I jumped out of bed to do the obligatory weather check through the window. Punching the air with delight with a “Yes!, it’s raining!”.
Opening up the club house at 7:30 as normal, I had the chance to greet the numerous early walkers we get on the circuit, usually with the same topic of conversation – “Good morning. Yes, pretty miserable again today!”. But this time it’s said with a smile on my face.
The Volunteers started laying out the course – bags of stakes transported around by “Evie” – after we got her out of the muddy hole she managed to get stuck in. Mark Devlin had been around the night before, marking the course with spray paint so we could get on and lay it out to design. 4km of tape was used to mark out the circuit – to which the branding was attached at the start/finish. Our Young Volunteers worked as a team to construct and install the various feather banners – no instructions – just an array of parts that need to be fitted together by wet hands in strong breezes. No easy task!
The warm-ups started. A chance to churn up the grass and start to mark out the muddy trail that would be followed once competition started. The resilience of young riders always amazes me – always willing to get another lap in, and still be eager to go ready to start. All racing went well. A slight incident at the start of the under 10’s (remember – get moving THEN clip in!) took down a couple of riders, but otherwise nothing to report of concern. Some real eye openers on performance – some usual road riders take well to MTB whilst some find it a slog – and the surprises are what make multiple events in the Club Champs so rewarding.
The team of judges – Ella, Ellen, Callum, Ciaran and Andy did an excellent job of recording results – on very, very soggy pieces of paper. Standing still in wet windy conditions for hours is not the most alluring activity, but necessary to the success of the events!
The Go-Ride races went well in the afternoon, with 25 riders taking part, and many for the first time. This was a great opportunity to showcase what we have to offer at Slipstreamers, and a chance to show visitors our versatile facility and depth of Volunteer commitment. Some very nice feedback from visiting parents resonates throughout the club when received.
On a downer – the clubhouse was left in poor order. We accept that MTB and MUD go together, but we must ask that best efforts are put in place to keep the facility as clean as possible. A few pointers:
- If you make a mess – tell someone. They won’t shout, but will help you clean it up – it’s your mess after all!
- Please don’t mark the walls with dirty hands. They are very hard to clean and makes the clubhouse look shabby.
- Keep ALL the toilets and changing rooms clean. We have mops and brushes that are available for ANYONE to use. You don’t have to be qualified to use a mop!
- Finally – be prepared. Take muddy shoes of at the door. A bin liner makes an ideal personal changing area – just stand on it when you get changed, and leave your muddy kit inside it. That way you keep floors clean and can put the dirty kit in your bag keeping that clean too!
Final results will be out soon – watch this space for updates…!”
As well a few words from Young Volunteers Seth, Ellen and Ciaran…
By Seth Kanaris, U14 Young Volunteer
“On Saturday 14th November, I spent the day at Hillingdon helping out with the annual MTB Club Champs, as well as the Go-Ride event sharing the same courses during the afternoon.
I got up at 6am in the morning, and by 7.45 am, me and my family were at the clubhouse, ready to go. The first thing I did was help set up the course. This included putting stakes to mark out the course, clearing out litter, and helping with odd tasks to get the course ready. Once I had done that, I went inside to help with admin and sign-on. There was a lot to do, and that included making sure all the smaller children got to go for a warm up around the circuit, but in the end it was all sorted.
I then put on my riding gear and headed round the back of the clubhouse to help a bit more with setting up the course; but this time I was helping Brent. I was initially going to ride round the course with Mark (Passey) to ensure all was ok, but we were then approached by Grace, who wasn’t sure where she was going – this prompted us to take her round the course to show her what was where, how best to ride it, etc. Mark had to go off and do something else, so it was just me. After showing Grace a practice lap and following her during her actual race, I was finally finished!
It was then time for my race… After encountering a mechanical early on in my first lap and thus dropping from 1st place to last, I had to fight extra hard through the mud to regain top spot. Still facing the same mechanical at the most unexpected of times, I worked super hard to cross the line with a safe victory. At this particular moment in time, I was effectively unrecognisable with the amount of mud covering my body and my bike! I also happened to be absolutely knackered, and didn’t particularly feel like doing much other than having a shower and sleeping – but I knew that the day was far from over: such is the life of a Young Volunteer!
After I had a shower and got changed, I helped with odd tasks for a while, including trekking all the way to the other side of the circuit and back to give my dad a camera, and showing our Go-Ride guests where to go for their races. Then it was time for “Operation Clean Up” – this involved sweeping the clubhouse, going round Hillingdon in “E.V.” with Simon, Sam, and Ciaran gathering everything up (stakes, signs, tape) and packing everything away, cleaning the mud off the windows and walls of the clubhouse, and basically helping where I could.
To conclude, it was a very long day – we only left around 4.30pm, so I was very tired. However, it was also very useful in that I know I played a part in making the day happen. Plus, I gained some pretty useful skills such as setting up different MTB race courses, assisting younger riders, and cleaning up after everyone (although arguably it would have been better if people cleaned up their own muddy mess!). All in all, it was a tough day, but it all paid off and I certainly earned my pizza for dinner that night!
By Ellen Parry, U14 Young Volunteer
“The first race I helped officiate was the Club Championship Road Races. For each race we would identify the numbers on the riders going past. I think the other Volunteers will back me up when I say that it’s easier said than done! It was great to see so many riders out on such a horrible day.
The following week was the club MTB championships. I started off the day setting up the signs and banners around the judges hut. As the race didn’t directly go past the hut we had to identify the numbers outside. Surprisingly, the numbers didn’t get so muddy so it wasn’t a problem to determine the winning order.
Well done to everyone who raced, it was great to see so many of you out there! It was a really interesting experience to be involved in the other parts of the club, and to be in the warm!”
By Ciaran Reed, U14 Young Volunteer
“The Mountain Bike Club Championship round was the back drop to my first volunteering experience. Having not volunteered before at a cycling event, I was not exactly sure what I was getting into.
I was up early on the morning of the race so I could get to Hillingdon on time to help set up the track for the riders to race on. Having laid out segments of the track in pouring rain and horrendous wind, myself and a team of other volunteers had to take down the results of the races lap by lap. We did this by taking down the number of each rider as they came through in rows depending on how many times we had seen them before.
Having done this for the Club Champs I got an hour break for lunch before going to help with the Go-Ride in the afternoon. I did a similar job for the first part of the Go-Ride where I took down the rider numbers as they went through.
Once they had finished a group of us set about taking down the track which was marked out with stakes and tape. In the cold rain and wind it was hard to take the stakes out of the ground, take the tape off them and figure out who they belonged too. It took just over an hour to do this.
In all I volunteered for around six hours that day, and even though the weather was generally miserable it was a good fun day fas a Young Volunteer.”