‘I’d give you a slap if I could breathe’, said a cyclist of previous good character. ‘You’re an evil little sod’ said another. I was starting to think that my marshal point at the top of the horrible, unrideable and steep climb wasn’t ideal given I knew a fair few of the people racing at this year’s Hit the North winter race and they knew that I was responsible for sending them up the steepest part of a hill at the far end of a flat but extremely rutted and bumpy field. Time to move on before one of them saves enough puff to snot me one…maybe a different marshal point would be sensible, one located after one of the many fun and swoopy sections.
We weren’t as lucky with the conditions this time as we were last February (when the ground was frozen almost solid) – there had been some rain and snow in the last few days and whilst the sun was almost shining today the course was soft and quite muddy in places. Undeterred, almost 200 racers lined up at the start; a good mix again of fast and not-so fast riders on mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes. A failure of the musical airhorns forced some urgent stabbing of the siren function on the PA and they were off, the first lap heading up the tarmac road to the first section of singletrack.
From my position at the first vantage point I saw very few surprises – the pack was being led by cyclocross bikes and I saw pretty much who I expected to see at the front. Subsequent laps, following the tarmac climb to spread people out, would then go across the field and up the steep hill of doom I mentioned earlier.
Lap after lap of the 3km course were completed over the next 2 hours, plenty of grimacing, plenty of crashes (especially at the near-legendary drop into Mere Clough) and a mint ball for all finishers.
Basically I’ll let the folk that raced tell their story as mine as an organiser is quite dull in comparison – bottom line is though is that our heads are full of ideas – some of those ideas may even happen but we’ll continue to organise quality races that are at the moment quite unique, we’ll work on the bits that need to be worked on and we’ll carry on raising cash for worthy causes in the process. Perhaps one day I’ll have the chance to race at Hit the North myself…!
My own personal thanks go out to everyone who raced, those who have told us afterwards how ace it was (that means a lot), the lovely people who gave up their Saturday to marshal and everyone else who has contributed in big and small ways to make sure this was another HTN success. You know who you are, etc.
See you at the next one…
Quality words and pictures from some of those who took part, took pics or helped us out…