I’m a big fan of the Brass Monkey events which Gorrick put on over the winter so was looking forward to the summer one. Not that it felt pretty summery, my drive up from Winchester featured persistent drizzle which fortunately didn’t make it as far north as Frith Hill. Nonetheless it felt pretty chilly on the start line and I kept the arm warmers on until we were ready to go. So maybe no need for sun cream but the advantage of more daylight is the longest race is upped from 4 to 6 hours, bonus!
I didn’t quite have time for a full practice lap but the beginning of the course was familiar from the last round of the Spring Series and with lots of cool singletrack which got looser as the day went on. Although not mountainous, the course seemed either up or down. Out of the start it was a quick dash around some loose gravelly corners before twisting down through the trees in some brilliant, loose singletrack. I was keen to get a good start so after this first section I hit the front joined by Gareth Barnes and the IMBIKEMAG and Fruit for London teams racing the 6 hour pairs.
There were some really quick descents which always seemed to precede a steep uppy bit, so there was a big incentive to maintain as much speed as possible going into the climbs. With this in mind I was a bit over eager on the first lap and watched my front wheel drift sideways almost out of sight before regaining traction, phew! Lesson learnt… until I did the same thing on the next lap!
I felt a bit clumsy on the first lap, trying to ride fast whilst not really knowing where I was going, I made several mistakes. I decided to back it off a bit and keep it smooth; after all I had plenty of time to go.
At the end of the lap the pairs riders had a distinct advantage of swapping over! I saw them as a good carrot though and raced the next few laps with them as they battled for the title. The constant ups and downs were taking their toll and I was really glad I’d brought the full suspension Scalpel, it meant I could really enjoy the descents without getting battered! Unfortunately I’d forgotten my watch, not ideal planning, so I had no idea how long I’d been going for. I guessed the laps would be around 30 minutes, but then I lost count of the number of laps! So it was a pleasant surprise when I found out it was only 40 minutes to go. To celebrate I sped up to make sure I had time for one more lap!
In the end I took the win in the 6 hours solo category with 11 laps, almost 70 miles of super fun racing and it’s nice to get a win before I head off to the World Marathon Champs (where I won’t be winning!). A big thanks to the organisers and to Merida for the great prizes. Gorrick’s events are always great fun and the team work really hard to ensure the courses are in tip-top condition. If you haven’t been to one recently you really should check out the brilliant Torq in Your Sleep event at the end of August.
A big thanks to all our sponsors – especially Clif Bar for keeping me fuelled throughout, I kept looking forward to my next Shot Blok, oooh Strawberry this time, yum yum! Next up is the World Champs in the Dolomites, a bit lumpier than Frith Hill but it’s all pedalling eh?!
Words - Tim Dunford
Full results from this years Merida Summer Monkey can be found via Timelaps - Full Results