If you’re anything like me, the combination of grey skies, post-Christmas apathy and countryside that resembles a mud-flavoured Slush Puppy may have your enthusiasm for riding waning. But fear not, for this is also the season when event organisers start announcing the treats that they’ve got lined up for us. Here’s a quick round-up of the good stuff that’s headed our way in 2013.
It’d be rude not to start with our local events Bikefest and Oktoberfest. Yep, entry is open already for 12 (and 8) hours of fast and furious relay racing round Ashton Court. If you’re wondering what the point of paying to ride your local trails is, bear in mind that racing head-to-head against a few thousand other people for 12 hours is a completely different beast to doing a lap or two with friends.
Another (fairly) local endurance race is the Bontrager 24/12 (July 27/28). As the name suggests it’s a choice of 24 or 12 hours, in a team of up to 5. What sets this one apart from the other English endurance races I’ve done is the amazing course, which takes in everything from windswept moorland to woodland bombholes. If it was your local trail you’d be ragging it every week. It’s quieter and more friendly than some of the big events too.
The daddy of UK 24 hour races is Mountain Mayhem (15/16 June) which this year gets a new venue and supposedly a more weatherproof course. Some people love the sloppy conditions that seem to be part and parcel of UK endurance racing, but if you’re sick of them, head abroad. The 24h Finale Ligure (1/2 July) on the Italian Riviera comes highly recommended, with espressos on tap and a dusty cliff-top course, and the local riding isn’t too shabby either.
Like pisspot and goggles-clad mushrooms, Enduro events are popping up all over the South West. A new one last year was the Mondraker Gravity Rally (6/7 July) on Exmoor. The people I know who took part in the first edition have already put their entries in for this year’s, which tells you something. It also looks like MTB events will be returning to the singletrack goldmine of the Quantocks, via a round of the XFusion Enduro 1 series (17 March).
They might be slightly less trendy, but “big day out” events are more popular than ever, with both the HONC (14 April) and the Heaven of the South (17-19 May) already sold out. If you were thinking of doing either, you can sign up to the reserve lists, or there are usually spare tickets going on the Singletrackworld forum a week or two beforehand. The venerable MTB Marathon series features loads of Welsh venues again, kicking off with Builith Wells on 13 April.
The Hell of the West (6 October) was another new event for last year, which features around 60 miles of super-tough road and dirt in the Dartmoor National Park. You can read my review of last year’s event here. Slightly less murderous and a bit closer to home, MB Swindon are running their Prospect Hospice ride (28 April). The riding’s not exactly a tech-fest but the views from the Ridgway are awesome.
If you’re suffering from withdrawal symptoms after the end of the cyclocross season, Morvelo Citycross (3 March) looks reet (as they say locally), with 30-minute motos held in the rubble-strewn grounds of a derelict mill. Just make sure your tetanus jabs are up to date.
And finally, if you do one event you’ve never done before in 2013, try and make it coming to a trail day. Hint hint.