There were slams, there were dog chases and there were a lot of wrong turns! But (almost) everyone made it to the finish line and the crisp cold beer that awaited. We had a great turn out and as more and more riders turned up it was clear we had a good mix of MTBs, CX and road bikes. But who would be fastest to the line? Which bike? MTB, CX or would a road bike steal it with clever route planning?
Everyone was asking themselves and each other a lot of questions. The event description only really said, ‘come join us for a race to the pub’ and as Tom handed over the race map and stamped the start time on their check cards, you could sense a little, “what am I letting myself in for?!” on the starters’ faces.
The clock was running from the moment racers were handed the route map – should you make a dash and figure it out as you go? Or take the time to plan your route? From the start there was a choice, hit the ‘waterworks scramble’ or take the single track? With the first checkpoint tucked in the bushes above the A406 it marked the edge of London. Then turning your back on the North Circular, diving back into the darkening depths of the ancient forest that is Epping.
Blazing your way through the fallen leaves on the forest floor as you descended down to Highams Lake led you to the 2nd checkpoint and a ‘Magic Work’ wizard hat stamp for your check card. Another look at your map. Marked ahead from here was the main technical section; take your chances on the mix of single track, wash board and gnarled 4×4 track, surely the quickest route to checkpoint 3 if you avoided punctures and managed to keep on track. Or hit the road and route around and try to sneak past the rest…
Checkpoint 3 marked the start of the final section and some golden hard pack gravel taking you to the finish. A chance now to get your head down, although racers had to be careful not to overrun checkpoint 4, which a lot did… Or maybe they just weren’t paying enough attention while dodging the forest cows grazing at the the side of the trail!
With the clock ticking, there was a final chase to the finish line and racers dashing to hand in their checkpoint card and have their finish time stamped. An anxious wait then followed while the elapsed times worked out. Finally with everyone over the line it was onto the ‘finishers party’ and as riders sipped cold beers and exchanged stories, routes and discoveries from their Saturday night adventure, summer was turning to autumn… Prizes were awarded, congratulations shared and as the chill started to set in on sweaty backs it was time to dart off once more into the moonlit forest.
Theo (MTB) – 36.20
Neil Philips (CX) – 37.15
Andy Watson Smith (CX) – 42.25
Adeline O’Moreau (CX) – 38.40
Aoife Doherty (CX) – 39.00
Sunday Echappe (CX + MTB) – 38.45
For full results please see the event page.
Most Epic Adventure
Special mention and winner of the ‘Most Epic Adventure’ prize goes to Best Friends Forever rider, Jesse, who after losing his route map didn’t find a single checkpoint and ended up completely lost in the woods!