Trans Epping No.1 : Micro-Adventure Racing With Donhou BicyclesCorrespondence Friends Events Sports Cycling Monthly highlights Travel & Adventure Cycling
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? Would a team be faster being able to divide up responsibilities, or a lone wolf with no slowest member? Which bike? MTB, CX or would a road bike steal it with clever route planning?
There were a lot of questions everyone was asking themselves and each other. With an event description that only really said ‘come join us for a race to the pub', 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 starter’s 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 should you take the time to plan your route?
Check your map. From the start there was a choice to the first checkpoint, hit the 'waterworks scramble' or take the single track? With the checkpoint tucked in the bushes up above the A406 it marked the edge of London. Then turning your back on the North Circular, you were now leaving the noise and rush behind, diving into the darkening depths of the ancient forest that is Epping.
Blazing your way through the fallen leaves that were laying 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 4x4 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...
Reaching checkpoint 3 marked the start of the final section and some golden hard pack gravel taking you all the way to the finish. A chance now to get your head down on the fast flowing gravel, 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!
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 stamped finishing cards were collected and 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.
Keep your eyes peeled for round two!
For more info and results go to: http://www.donhoubicycles.com/