Photo by the lovely Joolze Dymond
I’m in ‘training’ of sorts at the moment. In February I’m off to Finland with Shaggy and Brant to compete in a 150km Arctic Circle snow race. I prefer a gentleman’s training programme without the use of gadgets or schedules. I’m just riding lots and still enjoying going to the pub. I probably won’t win with this approach.
You can read Shaggy’s story of extreme endurance from last year’s event here.
The winter is a quieter time for me with less Great Rock skills courses running. I make the most of this by going out riding more, just for myself. With the shockingly wet conditions this year, I don’t feel like making every ride a Calderdale ‘death tech slither’ and so I’ve been pedalling off in different directions from usual, exploring riding further away from my usual valley ups and downs. I’ve been putting along on the bridleway tracks, riding tarmac, surfing over bogs and dropping in to some technical descents. The On One Fatty has been a great bike for these rides because it just likes trucking along on all surfaces. Also when I get back on a normal bike, I feel like I’m flying!
All this brought me yesterday to include the infamous ‘Todcross’ cyclocross race in the middle of one of my rides out. It’s a great event organised in a park in Todmorden by Chipps from Singletrack Magazine, which manages to include a brutal, mud coated, steep cobbled climb, some off camber mud slide descents and some soul sapping flat park sections of mud. Mud was the theme this year if you haven’t noticed. There are some very good ‘cross racers with excellent bike handling skills and fitness there as well as the normal people. They seemed like a friendly lot and didn’t seem to mind me being there on the most cheap electronic cigarette kits wrong sort of bike for the event.
Photo by Hutty
I just arrived at the start line as the women’s and Vets race started. They all shot off across the muddy field on their ‘cross bikes leaving me in last place, a position that I fought to maintain throughout the race. In the same way that there are different types of snow, some of which are really good for fat biking, there are also different types of mud. This was the wrong sort. I had to grind along at a sub walking pace in a low gear to get grip on the flat sections. You can probably get a ‘Sufferfest’ module like this where you see everyone else fly off as you enter ‘treacle turbo’ mode. It was great training and my legs were destroyed when I eventually got home.
I had a few interactions with other riders. I overtook a man who fell off and was lying in the mud having just lapped me. I smashed Fatty into a big puddle and splashed a man who had just lapped me. My main battle and great banter though was with Hannah (in the photo above) with whom I jostled for last place throughout the race. On our final lap I suggested that we ride over the line together with our tops off. As I was undressing she rode past leaving me to take the glory alone.
So was Fatty any good at anything? Yes indeed it was! I rode up the cobbles every lap aided by the 4 inch wide tyres at 6 psi. With gravity on your side Fatty just floats and the ‘grip-n-drift’ technology of the ‘Floater’ tyres made fun of the off camber descents.
I can now add ‘1st Fat bike at Todcross’ along with ‘top 10 solo finisher at the Strathpuffer’ to my list of sporting achievements.