Letters from the Editor – What happened to winter racing?
I was up at I cycles the other day – possibly my favourite bike shop in the UK ran by the indomitable spirit that is Stevie Deas. Heck of bloke, good coffee, fair to middling craic.
As ever, now that we’re getting on a bit, we sat down to rest our tired legs and went down a path of nostalgia. Now that, my friends, is a dangerous business, for it gives you all sorts of great ideas that we seem to have forgotten. Some are so old that they’ve become new again.
One thing we got on about, in between admiring Gary Forest’s 2003 hair do, was winter racing.
The L’hiver Probikesport winter series in the name that cropped up. At the time, this was quite something for the town of Innerleithen. For a start, the name was French. I’ve no idea what it meant but it sounded good. A bit like lever, so maybe it was a reference to the suspension we had to deal with at the time. (I am joking here…..)
These were awesome races. Yeah, they were fucking baltic, and often you had to take two sets of gloves to stop your fingers freezing. There was a huge hardtail class, before riding hardtails somehow became a novelty. I guess it’s the same way that organic food is now revolutionary. Go figure.
I digress. I’m a cynical old badger , I really am. Generally, these races were well supported. 150-200 riders would race. Peaty would turn up and race, and always win by miles but it gave everyone the perfect start, mid and end of winter lift.
It was a chance for the community to come together as one group, get freezing, race hard, slide out on black ice and go home buzzing while you waited patiently for the Descent-World report to come out on the Monday.
People weren’t even too bothered about buying a photo on Roots and Rain just to show off to the world about how they did. Nope, folk were just more than happy to living a very real experience out in the wood, razzing their bikes.
There were variations on just plain old DH too, there were quad eliminators, night races.
Basically, there was whatever you wanted, and strangely a lot of the time they were basically Enduro races with one stage, as the fire road would be too icy for the trucks to get up, meaning you had to ride to the top.
It really was comparable to Miracle on 34th street in the way it gave you a warm fuzzy feeling of content, after you’d de-thawed of course.
So, why don’t they exist any more? Has the community fragmented? Is the community now virtual instead of real? Do we Snap Chat to stay in touch rather than actually see each other?
Does no one fancy it? I’d fancy it, if I could.
Answers on a postcard.