With huge televised events like the Reebok Eliminator, which Peaty raced with a 63 tooth chain ring, dual racing definitely peaked in the US, but a long time ago. It’s never taken off here in the UK in the same way, which I find incredible. There were races at the Malverns, the Isle of Wight Descender, Slim Willy’s near Leominster (if anyone can remember that!), but with the enduring popularity of dual at events like Sea Otter each year, there must be room on a hillside somewhere for 45 seconds of berms, jumps and a finish line? I have personally spent days railing the corners of Chicksands’ sandy dual track, coming home with sore face from grinning.
With our regular mate’s races in Sheffield dual still proves to be a perennial favourite. This winter has been particularly tough with some of the worst Wednesday night weather we have ever had to cope with. During the second race a blizzard blew in resulting in near white out conditions and hypothermic racers. We’ve had biblical rain storms, gale force winds which stopped riders in their tracks, and yet still dozens of riders turn out to race. There is a strange draw that is about much more than picking up series points; dual seems to have a unique joy that racers can’t get enough of. Peaty puts it down to three things, “It’s a short track, with intense racing and you get two goes”.
We tend to race dual only at night, but the last time was for Farmer Jack’s 40th birthday. He’s Peaty’s neighbour and one of his best mates; he also owns the land where the dual track resides and lets us race there. It was so good to race in daylight. It certainly wasn’t warm but it made for great racing with 40 riders and 20 spectators showing up and making the most of the dusty track. It was a brilliant race; there was drama, big crashes and elbows smashing into elbows. There was some of the most skilled riding I’ve had the pleasure of watching. The standard has come on so much in the last four years that Steve actually has to try sometimes; not that he’d ever let anyone else win. I did try to apply a few handicaps though with the dishing out of ‘racing rums’ to every rider making it through to another round. It didn’t affect the result though, it just broadened the grins and heightened the giggles. Although it may well have helped in the long jump contest which followed.
I’m trying to lead the renaissance of dual in the best way I know how; getting people to race it. Once you’ve dualled, there really is no going back, you just need more. From grassy hills to buff berms, the fun is in the format. With Steve coming second at the Sea Otter dual last year it demonstrates that dual will never get old.