August 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm #1021871
It might sounds like we’re loopy for raving about this event so much – but it really is _that_ good 🙂
Simon captured the moment brilliantly that you can get that makes it all worthwhile when you (by fluke or otherwise) string a few wonderful sections together that feel like nothing can stop you.
I mentioned it on the day that where road cycling is a lot of fun where you get to experience endurance, speed, beautiful countryside, riding in groups with mates… riding an MTB race like this puts you into a zone of 100% focus – if you lose it you end up in the bushes or wrapped around a tree. When it all goes right it’s sublime and it keeps me coming back for more.
For me my highlight was my last lap when it was too late to finish a lap and so there was nobody else out on the course.
I felt the rush of wind as the race winner – Ben Thomas (ex-national champ) sped past on his last lap – which he completed with 3mins to spare!
After that it was just me and the woods – even the marshals were packing up.
The one nasty section that I’d not managed to nail eventually appeared and with nobody around I was able to relax, pick my own line through the twisty, turny, rooty, steep and off-camber section and onto the final polished chalky rock section which turns out was harder to walk up that ride up. Getting up that in one go made my day – a small victory 🙂
August 13, 2018 at 10:04 pm #1021870
Brighton Big Dog 2018
What more can I add over everyone elses excellent write ups.
This being my 6th year racing, I found it the most challenging. Like Bill, this is my second annual venture out on the MTB (kids rides aside) and always comes as a bit of a shock to the system.
The course was mostly the same as last year, however the conditions made it far more challenging.
The roots and loose stuff made it difficult and I found my front tyre slip sliding all over the place. Sadly on the first lap I came off the second log drop-off, only for my front wheel to slide out as it landed, sending me over the bars and ejecting my pump from my rear pocket into the bushes. I quickly got up and out of the way of other riders and then eased off the gas a touch to make it back to hand over to Steve R.
The second lap started off much better as the course seemed to be drying up a little, however I soon came off the first log drop off and gained a free rear pinch puncture. Sadly without a pump it made getting air into the new tube tricky! Just as I was about to start pushing the bike along the course without air in my rear tyre (in the hope of asking someone for a pump), a very kind chap on a CX bike rode past me (who was off to meet his mates) and kindly stopped and shared the the inflating duties to get almost 85 psi into my tyre using what must be the smallest Lezye hand pump I have ever seen (I can only assume Lezyne produced it so that it could be smuggled in and out of prison). Took it easier on the remainder of the lap knowing that should I get another snake bite I was done for!
My third lap was the most fun and mostly without incident. However on each of my three laps, I found the rooty climb the other side of the A road foot bridge was almost impossible to ride up without slipping side ways before resigning myself to push and that was true of many of the sections that I just couldn’t get much grip on. Previous years racing, I have almost always made it up!
Having said that – the fast guys didn’t have much trouble or even our very own Tim and Steve (or no doubt Simon or Bill), so I put this down to a mix of the bike tyres/pressure and my shoddy skills.
However, Big Dog was again a mighty fine workout and had its usual amazing and quirky vibe as always. The music was great and there were smiles all round (mostly)!
Having sampled a few events like this (albeit a while ago now), this still remains the must do MTB event. I will be back next year!
Thanks to Simon for organising the entry, Steve for the Gazebo and pairing up and everyone else for a fun and very enjoyable day out.
August 13, 2018 at 5:52 pm #1021867
Ahh, Big Dog – It doesn’t disappoint.
Although you might have thought that it would have been a bit of a mess after all of the rain the day before, but come a sunny Saturday morning everything was good to go – we had riders, the gazebo and the have-a-bash attitude we all need from time to time. And the trails held up remarkably well with only the roots being slippery, really. But there were a lot of roots.
At twelve we were all off – a mad scramble to the first climb, some queuing at the little drop offs and more at the next really steep up. But, hey all the guys who were racing hard were long gone by now, so us folk in the middle just took it easy. Soon there was a bit more space and the Big Dog single track was there to be attacked. Such good trails – I thought they rode brilliantly. The roots were slippery, but if you trusted your tyres to get grip somewhere, sometime soon you could ride them. There were even times when I achieved that mountain bike dream of “flow” when each bend of singletrack guided you to the next and the next and… then it was gone. But for a few seconds you had flow. That must be what it feels like all the time if you’re really good at this. In between the trails threading their way through the trees there were upwards inclines of fire road and steep path to deal with. Also a couple of log hops and a final downhill section with a choice of A or B line. A was steep in places and fun. B was milder, but with an added bomb hole. And that bomb hole was great as you dropped in, accelerated by the plummet down, then up the other side and a little air over the exit lip – to land on off camber roots that spat you sideways. That was a foot-out-Woah! moment.
After my third lap I thought my rear tyre was feeling a little soft, so I put a bit more air in and trusted it to stay up. Nah. A km into my last lap it needed pumping up again and then I cut my losses and stuck in a tube. That took time and what had been a comfortable hour to complete my last lap was now a rush. So I went as fast as I could, but found that tired and battered is not a good state to try to speed through technical sections. You need concentration and control and I was lacking both. So I went safe in the techy bits and pedalled hard on the ups. I got through the finish arch with a few minutes to spare and grabbed my complementary beer as I did so. It got drunk before I rolled to a stop.
So that’s a day of great riding. But Big Dog is more. There are good vibes running through the whole event – free tea, kids’ races, fun commentators all day, a sound system playing the sweetest tunes. There’s even some bloke in a pork pie hat playing the drums next to a random bit of the course. And with it being a relay race you get to chill and chat with your club mates throughout – when you’re not racing.
Massive thanks to all the Avanti folk who rode. And especially to Greg who filled in a spot we had spare and drove from Saffron Walden to do so. Great to see Tim racing in Avanti colours and we look forward to seeing him rip up the cross races for us too. Steve, Johnny, Bill and Sam all gave it everything they had. They raced through crashes and punctures and those roots and came out smiling. Good work everyone!
August 13, 2018 at 9:32 am #1021818
my pics for the day!
August 13, 2018 at 9:41 am #1021824
I just lost my write-up of this as I neared the end… 🙁
I’ll write up more later as I have to dash now but – quick summary!
Great day out. 4-6mins slower laps that last year due to treacherous conditions.
My Pumpy Tyres team-mate Johnny punctured on his second lap – I was worried as he came in a whole lap time later than expected.
This left me in the position waiting on his 3rd lap to come home, chatting to Sam – figuring out whether or not I’d get my 4th lap in.
I’d been doing 44-48min laps – lots of the delays were due to queuing up behind others on the dangerous slippery bits.
Last lap would be clearer. I figured if he was back with 42mins to go I’d give it a go.
He came in with just 38mins left – not enough time even if I suddenly improved – but I figured I’d give it a go and enjoy a quiet lap.
Sure enough it was fun but I didn’t make the cut – and the marshals were even taking tape down and clearing up when there were about 15mins left to go. Towards the end of the lap – with no marshals out and no hope of making it back in time I took an executive decision to skip the last treacherous climb and cut through and head for home. I cut out 5mins of so of lap with an extra little trip through the woods to get back early – taking a nice leisurely pace through the final rooty sections to make sure that I made it back in one piece. I made it home 4mins after the cutoff.
Great day out – with an increasingly talented bunch of Avanti off-roaders.
Cheers to Simon for organising with his usual enthusiasm!
August 13, 2018 at 8:51 am #1021817
Great pictures, and well done to all of you taking part. Looks a bit too mad for me! Some serious bursts of energy required.
August 12, 2018 at 8:00 pm #1021816
With a much appreciated pick up from Simon at 8:30 we headed down to Brighton in good time for our 12:00 race start.
Parking next to our annual racing Comrades (Redhill CC) we secured our spot ready for the arrival of Steve with the newly acquired Avanti gazebo.
Once set-up and with a full team to occupy it we grabbed our race packs and started getting ready.
With some late changes/additions to the team we ended up with 7 riders, so with 3 teams of two that left one solo rider. Before I realised the words came out of my mouth I volunteered to be that solo rider. LOL what was I thinking???
We lined up fairly early to get ahead of much of the bunch and with the DJ pumping out some serious tunes the MCs got us fired up and ready to race.
With different ability riders starting at different sections of the pack the first lap was pretty frantic with everyone trying to keep their position with many faster riders shouting to come through. Once the groups started to thin out a bit I decided to continue after lap one and went straight into laptop two without stopping. I wish I had stopped for minute, as mid-way through laptop two I encountered a stopped rider at speed and tried to avoid him, unfortunately steering into wet roots and went down. After laptop two with bloodied arm and leg and realising I had run out of drink so took a 5 minute break and cracked on with lap three. Now, with approx 20 miles of very technical/hilly MTB racing done I realised 5 minute break was way to short and I needed to rest. Lap three saw a bit more space out on the course so I had the luxury of picking my line and gained a bit more confidence in the tricky root and single track sections. Maybe too soon, but after 7 or so minutes rest after lap three I took off for laptop four. Mid-way through lap four my injured arm and leg started to cramp, so after laptop four I decided to take a longer break. Maybe slightly too long as cramp started to set in so I decided to knock lap five on the head and put some welcome warm clothes on. Note to self, eat and drink more on intense races like this.
Watching the last riders come through was brilliant, the DJ pumped out an awesome set all day long and the MCs were keeping the crowd entertained.
Simon came through shortly before the 6pm cutoff so his last lap, but I think a increasingly slower surface meant a slightly slower last lap for Steve coming in just 4 minutes after the 6pm cutoff.
Kind of happy with the day’s riding, as i hadn’t touched my MTB more than twice in over a year and when I did on the day I realised it weighed the same as Simon, Steve and Tim’s bikes together. Checking the results today I came in 38th out of 53 solo vet riders, with a possible finish in the low 30’s if I had carried on sooner with my 5th lap.
A great day with a great group of friends and fellow riders.
Well done all and thanks to Simon for organising it and to Steve for sorting out the Gazebo, we really looked awesome with our team area topped off in team colours.
August 12, 2018 at 10:32 am #1021814
Great pics. Loving the drummer, random but so cool 😎
August 12, 2018 at 7:18 am #1021813
Great pics Sam
August 11, 2018 at 8:14 pm #1021794
Big Dog is over for another year!
Well done to everyone who raced today, it was slippery to begin with but seemed to dry out quickly. I went out for one lap as Simon’s race partner, using his bike as I don’t have a mountain bike of my own. Unfortunately it was a bit too technical for me, and I had to stop very, very frequently to let faster riders past on any technical bits (read: everyone else). It was good on the fireroad sections though where I was able to ride fairly well.
After my token lap, I took some pictures of the others, and managed to get shots (of varying quality) of Simon, Steve, Jonnie and Tim.
May 31, 2018 at 6:34 am #521016
Is a Cyclo cross bike any good or is MTB needed?
June 4, 2018 at 9:08 pm #521057
Some people have done Big Dog on a cross bike and not died (!). However, it is a mountain bike race and you’ll be quicker/safer on a mountain bike. There are sharp, loose climbs; plenty of single track; fast downhill sections and a few roots and drop-offs to entertain/challenge.
If you fancy racing your cross bike at full tilt there are a few summer races coming up for Thursday nights – see another thread for details!
- This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Simon Clarke.
May 30, 2018 at 6:59 pm #521015
Hello All – Big Dog organising time is here again! Still in August – this year Saturday 11th. Still in Stanmer Park – why change a winning formula?!?
For those who are unaware Brighton Big Dog is great mountain biking race that Avanti put a few teams in every year. The race is held over six hours – but you don’t have to race for that long – you’ll be part of a pair or larger team if you want and race it as a relay/tag team affair. That means that between laps you get a chance to chill and chat. And you get to enjoy the DJs, the food and kit stalls, the tea, the atmosphere. It’s a great day out. And you get a beer at the end!
In the past we have had eight or so people racing and we already have quite a few names down for this year. Just ask any of the people who have done it in the past and they’ll tell you what a great day out it is.
There’s an event set up on the Avanti website: https://www.gsavanti.co.uk/events/2018/08/brighton-big-dog-saturday-12th-august-2017/
Despite the link address it is for this year’s event. You can register your interest there.
I have coordinated entries and transport in the past and will do so again – in fact I already have bought some male pairs places for starters.
Here’s the event website address to give you more of a flavour of the event:
And a video:
I’m happy to answer any questions on this forum thread or on the event page linked above.
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