Pearce Summer Series Round Three.
Back to Bringewood.
So, round three. Missed round two because of trying my hand at Four Cross. Turns out, I’m not really very good at either. Back to roots, rocks, trees and what seemed to be a hill that had been jet washed in cooking oil! Bringewood is slippier than a pot of silicone nitrate when it’s wet, and, due to the overnight downpour, the top half of the hill turned into what can only be described as an ice rink. Put it like this, if Torvill and Dean had turned up, with a fresh set of bladed boots – they would have felt completely at home. Old man traction was no-where to be seen.
Nevertheless, once you got over the initial shock of sliding down the hill like a break-dancer, the riding became big fun in a weird kind of “Oh my God, there is no way I will stop for that turn”, that only a downhill rider would appreciate. Brakes couldn’t stop you. I kept reaching for my emergency parachute cord. What a morning.
What happened next is a little strange for U.K. downhill races. The sun came out. The temperature lifted. The track began to dry out. Riders started smiling. The Pearce up-lifts were ready and waiting (which is always the case). From then on,the day began to CHANGE.
From a Caterpillar to a butterfly. Had Bringewood always been this slippery in wet conditions? What was downhill like back in the day?? Just like the Pearce race conditions changed in about an hour, ever wondered how had Grass Roots downhill racing evolved over the years?? I can’t tell you…….but I know a man who can.
1995. Petrol was 53p a litre, eBay was founded. Nicolas Vouilloz started his record breaking 5 year running winning spree in Kirchzarten and I bought an aluminium GT RTS-1 luminous pink Dainese body armour suit, Moto X jersey and ski goggles. Add to that a motorbike helmet that weighed twice as much as my bike, and I entered round one of the NPS at Hopton – only to give it up around 18 months later due to finding a ‘proper job’ (one that required no broken bones and paid twice as much as the bike shop I worked in).
Why the nostalgia?
2008. 13 years later, I find myself at Bringewood, swapping a bike for a camera and meeting up with a Butcher who obviously wanted to ride his (borrowed) bike, and thought it may be a good idea for me to write some words from the perspective of someone who used to ride back in the day, to fill up his race report. What a bloody, cunning, good for nothing……………..
So, what’s changed in all this time?
On the surface, quite a lot. For instance, there are more riders than 13 years ago, the course is very well designed and you now have coloured lights to tell you when to start, instead of a bloke tapping you on the back. You can even get a lift to the top of the hill on a trailer. I only ever managed to climb to the higher part of mid table during my race days, and I put this down to the energy sapping problem of having to drag my bike up the course……..and, being average.
There are more Marshalls and yellow tape is everywhere, making it clear where the course runs. No-one laughs if you ride a hardtail, in fact, it’s encouraged. There are no biscuit coloured tyres and I didn’t spot one ‘Dave’s Chain Device’.
So, it’s all different then? Not quite. The results still get displayed on a huge computer monitor, pumped out from (probably) the same caravan from 1995, which incidentally, I swear has the same woman in it. The same spirit exists, that grass roots kind of feeling, like everyone is there for the good of the sport and to let it continue and evolve, but not get out of hand and implode. There is still a great atmosphere, and I like the way that it hasn’t lost a grip on what it’s all about – trying to get the fastest time down the course (although you do get two goes at it, something that didn’t happen for the majority of events in ’95). This was not good way back, especially when you’d driven 400 miles to NPS Hawick, slept in a freezing, wet field and got a puncture 20 seconds in to your run. The bikes are obviously better, and the riding is, well, to be frank, downright scary.
After the buzz of watching this race, I plan to be hanging around a lot more downhill events, so if you want to buy some used DCD’s, especially anodised purple, come and find me. I’ll be wearing a grey baseball cap, carrying a Canon camera, and will be as far away from anyone who looks or talks like a butcher. I’ve always got this cagey Customs and Excise officer look about me. Come and have a chat………..
Thanks for a great days entertainment, soon to be on two wheels again.
The Duck of Death.
Thanks to the duck there.
The Bringewood race was near perfect. Dave, Lyndsey and the Pearce team simply know what their doing. No delays, no fuss, job done. The day started as an ugly duckling, but turned into a swan. I wonder if I’ll ever become a swan?
Thanks for listening.
The Butcher (who secretly longs to be a swan).
This has been a Butcher, Duck production in association with Dopey Dan.
Full results here
Pearce Summer Series Round Three Bringewood