Not everyone planning a family event outdoors would choose to hold it on the Glastonbury Festival weekend. There may have been some beautiful Glastonbury weekends, but the image which sticks in the mind is of revelers slipping and sliding through a sea of mud to sit bedraggled before their musical heroes. But it seems we chose right and the first HHYCC Midsummer event was held in glorious sunshine without a shivering, wet, mud splattered parent or diehard mountain biker in sight. There'll be plenty of that to look forward to in the cyclocross season...
Midsummer madness MTB evening - an eyewitness account
Our first event was a team relay. It brought together thirteen 4-person teams, each with a female member and an adult, to slog it out for the evening's top prize: a plate of green glitter cakes. The handovers owed more to the Keystone Cops than Team Sky. But the racing was fast and furious and all the riders gave it everything. Noah Phillips, Freddie Argent, Abi Twisk and Adam Noble emerged to claim the delicious cakes, but everyone who raced went away with a cake and a smile.
Instead we were able to enjoy a balmy evening of family fun and racing. We kicked off with an open coaching session. As the burgers and sausages sizzled on the BBQ, and children tucked into a fantastic array of cakes, Bill Wright led a caravan of parents eager to try our trails - and children eager to show them why they come back week in week out - off into the undergrowth like the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. They came back with the odd scratch, enthusiastic smiles, and armed with the skills to tackle our race course - designed by club member Stanley Nutter.
Arlo was so fired up by his U10 ride that he lined up straight away for the U12 race. Freddie Argent took the race in stylish fashion. The real battle royal was for second and third. Arthur Ingarmells and Luke Mitchie from Team Darenth were never more than a bike length apart for the whole race, with Arthur eventually holding out to take second. Ava Lockyear, the sole girl, was riding strongly before a fall ended her race.
Sixteen riders lined up to contest the U10 race. Arlo Ludewick led from the off, pushed hard by Joe Blackmore, Eddie Davies, Sam Dickinson, George Ridgeley, and Zachary Warsop who gave us a great race for 2nd and 3rd. The honours for second eventually went to George and for third to Zachary. The girls race was even tighter with the lead changing through the race. Lois Samphier eventually cross the line first, with Lucy Abbott and Kitty Phillips a close second and third.
The U14s and U16s added a few twistier sections by the BBQ and entertained us with their skills as we tucked into our burgers. Harrison Coombes led for much of the race, but surrendered his lead to Sam Judd after a excursion into the bushes. Sam eventually took the race, with Harrison second and Noah Phillips third. Abi van Twisk, who is having a great season on the track and road, dusted off her cross bike to fly the flag for the girls.
We rounded off the evening off with a novice race for adults. A group of our more experienced riders and parents were so fired up by the earlier racing that they asked to ride, some for a second time. They raced with a 3/4 lap handicap. The novices tackled a twisty course with some very loose and bumpy sections brilliantly in the fading light. Will Mordaunt led the field home, and Kirk LeVoi and Darrin Reed were the second and third male novices over the line. Khalida Ismael, Jane Blackmore, and Sandra Johnson took the podium places for the women.
There were a few tired looking club members by the end of the party, but lots of smiles too!
Thank you to everyone who helped make the evening a success. From sending the word out, baking cakes, and laying out the course, to flipping burgers and tidying up in the dark. There are too many names to mention (and I don't want to miss anyone out by mistake).
And a big round of applause for those of you who raced for the first time.
We plan to do it again next year and we hope even more of you will be able to join us. The first question, of course, will be whether or not to stick with the Glastonbury weekend ... Can we get lucky two years in a row?
Watch out for the dates for 2011!