Hit the North 2 and the road to Damascus

Hit the North 2 was a big success. Despite having less than half the number of people taking part that we should have had, despite the previous 4 months leaving us feeling that this was the last one that we’d do, it turned out to be bloody fantastic. Again. Except this time it was even better….

After the race had finished and everything had been put away, I wrote the following blog post with my usual organiser’s perspective of the event but with an added ‘this is the end’ aspect. We’d already announced publicly that the show was over anyway and surprisingly nobody has really tried to persuade us to carry on (is that a good thing or not? I dunno). Anyway, the post in full;

People say that once something stops being fun, it’s time to quit. Mostly, planning Hit the North 2 wasn’t fun. It was a few months of anxiety and extra plugging because of low entry numbers on top of the regular hard work involved with organising a reasonably large event.

Despite our claims that we do things ‘for a laugh’ and ‘we make this up as we go along’, in reality Andrew and I both want to do things properly so that everyone who pays to take part get great value for money, our sponsors are happy to be associated with a quality event and the numerous people that help us out for nothing (or next to nothing) aren’t left with a load of hassle, something broken that we borrowed or a mess somewhere on their land.

The amount of work had increased anyway (due to there being now two of us doing this rather than three) plus both our families are not getting any smaller. The time when I wasn’t training (which takes a significant amount of time, obviously), I was either at work or I was sending emails, bombarding Internet forums with pleas for more entries, leading course preview rides, writing risk assessments or cutting back 6 miles worth of prickly weeds on someone else’s land.

It just wasn’t fun anymore. If anything it had become a pain in the arse.

After we’d set everything up on Friday, watched as Mark 1 and Mark 2 organised the army of marshals, got excited as the early arrivals set up their tents and caravans, chatted with seldom-seen friends we talk to face-to-face only when we host a race and we made sure caterers had everything they needed to crack on, we got into character ready for the big start….

After sounding the siren on the PA for a few seconds, eventually the amassed racers heard it (it sounded loud to me, with my ear almost touching the speaker) and off they went for the Le Mans-style run with a difference. Many races have a run at the start to spread out the field so that a huge queue at the first singletrack section is avoided. Normally it’s quite short and tame…so we decided that ours would be quite long and very not-tame. Sending the run route down a muddy bank, through a stream, up a slippery steep bank, along a narrow track then up a flight of concrete steps wasn’t held dear in the hearts of many people judging by the looks on their faces but it served its purpose. There was a good 10 minutes separating the first riders back to the start finish and the ones at the back 😉 Like I said, we do things properly. With a great big hammer.

The race went on for the next 8 hours and apart from everyone loving the course, the laid-back vibe and the awesome music being played by Michael at his marshal point at the top of the horrible unrideable climb, not a great deal happened. Nothing ‘bad’ anyway. The medical team had a barbecue and fannied around on their quad bike because they were bored, some people raced very fast, some cyclocross riders showed how to shoulder a bike and skip up a hill, some people rode quite slowly but ‘purposefully’. The caterers dressed as pirates and served amazing food as usual, the beer tent served pints of real ale whilst the DJ played into the small hours (which technically could have been viewed by the police as an illegal rave but with 80’s music and bitter rather than techno, Es and whizz).

It was as good as ever. If anything, it was the best HTN ever.

The good stuff:

Donating cash to charity. This could sound like a cliché and a bit cheesy, but it’s important. For me, it’s the most important thing. Giving away our profit to people and organisations that need it more than we do MAKES THE HASSLE WORTH IT. We’ve not got a lot of profit this time to give away, but someone local will be better off as a result that’s for certain.

People entering and quite literally LOVING the event. People who race a lot love it. People who never normally race love it and only ever enter HTN.

People who travel hundreds of miles to be here.

Meeting and becoming friends with some truly ace people.

Getting permission to do all this from the nice people who own or manage the land that we use – it’s easier than you might think as long as you ask nicely.

Watching other people in addition to us doing big things and giving up huge amounts of their own time for not much more than a cup of tea and a warm handshake to make it happen.

Our brilliant sponsors – JMC IT, Ragley Bikes, Hotlines, Cloversoul, Cooksons Cycles and all the sponsors that have helped us in the past with paying for stuff for us or giving us stuff to give to people who finish on the podium.

Thanks for your support. We love you all.


Some pics

some more pics

People saying nice things

Blog posts from:



One Black Dot

Here Come The Belgians

Before I published the text above on this blog I went for a ride. Nothing spectacular about that, just one of regular training routes over towards Macclesfield. It was raining and I was thinking hard about what I’d written and the nagging feeling that deep down I just didn’t believe my own drivel. We’d been speaking to a couple of guys about the future of Hit the North and they were very interested in taking it on – however the thing is, I didn’t really want that to happen at all, despite appearances to the contrary.

I know the lads we had been talking to and I’ve no doubt at all that they’d do a grand job (perhaps even a better job!), but unlike Andrew I’m not ready to walk away from this just yet. I feel bad that I may have messed people around but everyone will get over that I’m sure.

I stopped at the side of the road and hid from the rain in a bus shelter. I texted Andrew to tell him that I was going to carry on and I immediately felt an immense sense of relief. It was a proper Road To Damascus moment. Hit the North was going to carry on as normal and the only thing that would make it die would be when nobody wanted to do it anymore. Last weekend had taught me that plenty of people still want to do it…so that’s good enough for me.

It’s going to be hard on my own, but I won’t’ really be on my own at all –  I’m sure that at least some of the offers of help that were there last weekend will still be there in the months to come. It’ll be hard but at the same time exciting, unpredictable and awesome – a bit like solo 24 hour racing…and I’m good at that.

See you at Hit the North – The Resurrection (or something) – February 2011….

19 thoughts on “Hit the North 2 and the road to Damascus

  1. That’s good news.. If I can help I will. But if there’s a Hit The North 4.0 (without Bruce Willis) next July i’ll be wanting to improve on my lowly result from the weekend. But let me know if there’s owt I can do.

  2. woop woop! at least half a dozen people have said to me that they are interested in carrying on, you won’t be short of helpers!

  3. You’re turning into a race organiser, Wayne’s turning into a racer…what’s going on?!

    It’s going to be awesome…

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  5. I had a brilliant weekend, despite falling off my bike at the first corner (yes the one you warned me about ) I will be up for it next year and don’t be shy if you need any help.

  6. MTBs and cross bikes? In the mud of North Manchester? That’ll never catch on…

    I rode (raced would be an exageration) and will surely be at any more race you put on. Sadly, I can’t offer to help (first child imminent), but the promise that this one would be truly special was just that. Keep doing it your own way and people will still want to be a part of it.

    But for goodness sake, please book the sunshine..!

  7. Mint! Nice epiphany 🙂 Wasn’t happy with my forth and what I thought to be final HTN result being a DNF.
    Put me down as a pre or post race helper for the next one.

  8. It was a briliant event. Thanks for organising it- your efforts are greatly appreciated! I’ll be there next year!

  9. Thats great news! Im in (again). Put me down for pre race helping out duties too. 🙂

  10. Well you can count me in 🙂 maybe i will do a full race this time 😐

    Great event(s) though, If you need a hand with anything i will do my best.

  11. Jase, that’s the best blog post you’ve ever written and that I’ve ever read. If it had a soundtrack it would have had a lone bagpipe at the start and then finished with a huge ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.
    And I’m nickin’ the Theodore Roosevelt pic… classic stuff. If I could get the cash together I’d come over and ride the next one just because of that.

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