I worked hard on this project. Finding all the films by trawling through YouTube, Vimeo and various sites including the FRA. Once I'd found the ones that I really liked I had to contact the film makers and get their permission. One of the first films on the list was 'Naylor's Run'. I contacted Striding Edge films and Eric Robson's wife Annette immediately came back to me and said that they would be very happy to give permission to show their film as it was such a good cause (Bolton Mountain Rescue Team and Dashers). The Bedlamites film was another one that I was very keen to show and again the film makers gave permission straight away. The other films were Reflections on Sixty, Racing Time, the really clever cartoon Onwards and I was very pleased to get Mark 'fellephant' Birbeck on board and show a video that he managed to get finished just before the show.
Initially I wanted to have the show at Darwen Library Theatre but at £60 and hour and a minimum of 4 hours hire then this soon became a non starter. I was put onto DACA as a venue by John East of Friends of Darwen Library and this turned out to be ideal. The hire charge was £50 for the evening and I managed to get sponsorship (from Lead On, Pro Sport Supplements and the Black Horse pub) to cover this so all the ticket money went to the charity donation. As well as donating the lion's share of the sponsorship money, my mate Baggy from the Black Horse also offered to put some sandwiches on for us in the pub after.
After an appeal for a photo to use for the poster on the FRA my mate Ady Nicholls, a Sport Sunday photographer, came up trumps with a great shot of a pair of running legs splashing through a puddle. Perfect.
I publicised the event via Twitter and FB, got in contact with the Lancashire Telegraph, put posters up and, of course, put a flier in the Dash.
Once all this was in place it was game on. I must admit to be being pretty nervous. I had no idea how many people would turn up to pay their £2.50 on the night. Would it turn out to be another poorly attended event like the Toy Run? Cath, Hannah and I headed down to DACA and started to set up. To make it more fun I decided to make it look like a fell race. I had a sign up at the desk saying 'Registration. £2.50. no kit required. No safety pins.' The way to the studio was marked with red and white barrier tape and the drinks for the interval was water and orange juice in Dashers race water containers.
Seven o' clock arrived and people began to trickle in. Paul Livsey and Jonathan Stubbs from Dashers had offered to help out. Livsey took some photos and Stubbsy manned the lights in the studio.
Clearing my throat I nervously stood in front of everyone and began:
A seventy year old fell runner travels across rough terrain and extreme weather conditions in pursuit of an indefinable target... Based on a poem by Chris Woods
Finally I could get my soaking kit off and struggle into dry stuff. I found a biscuit and crammed it in. My fingers were still totally dead and I was still shivering. Eventually Dave Billi appeared. he'd also pulled out. We started the van and got the heater blasting out. When he'd got changed he went and got some of the free hot drinks that the organiser provided.
We sat in the van for a long time. It was obvious that Paul had carried on. I was impressed but I didn't envy him. Another hot drink and some food was tucked away. Much later Paul arrived. He'd had a rough time of it witht the cold and wet and some dodgy way marking had seen him go astray but he'd finished. It turned out later that about 75% of racers had pulled out so Paul had done bloody well.
Driving home I reflected on what, for me, had been one of the worst days out on the bike for many a year. it was such a shame as the organisers had done a good job and in different conditions it would have been a cracking day out. I also kicked myself for being so complacent in not taking the right kit with me. With my poor resistance to cold and Reynauds Syndrone I had had a real mare and could quite easily have gone into full blown hypothermia. One to put down to experience and learn a lesson from, I think.
SSUK '13, Swanage, Dorset. 3rd - 6th May
I'd been looking forward to this since signing up for it. It was going to be a bit of an unknown quantity as I was taking Cath with me. her first time at a singlespeed event. She was going to use Will's bike with the seat right down. It was also her first time on a singlespeed!
We'd had to wait for Hannah getting back from a college trip before we could set off. It was about 10.30am before we hit the road south. On a Bank Holiday Friday. Smashing. Initially we made good progress but eventually our luck ran out and we hit standing traffic. The motorway had been closed due to an accident and we had to head onto A and B roads. We got stuck several times on the way down due to the sheer volume of people heading away for the weekend. Ah well, at least the sun was shining,
We couldn't get on the main campsite used for the event, which was a bit of a shame. As it turned out we were quite a way away from it and no-one else from the event was where we were. The site was nice though. We had a reasonable meal at the restaurant that night and retired.
Anyway it was a strange do for a singlespeed event. Due to us being a bit removed from it all there was no getting hammered and talking crap for hours with like minded loons. Not a complaint really as it was nice to just have a mini break with the Mrs somewhere new - and sunny! Bonus!
We headed down to Charlie's shop with the intention of us both doing the Saturday ride. Fate stepped in and put the mockers on that one. We'd driven down and had to pay for a full days parking (£8!!) and by the time we'd got the bikes out and ready to go the large throng of riders that had been hanging out on the sea front looking all niche and that, had buggered off! Aaargh! We had a guess at which way they had gone and set off in pursuit but to no avail. However, it soon became apparent that Cath wasn't overly happy on the Inbred. It was too big, she'd never ridden a SS before and then the freehub started playing up. FFS. Taking this as a sign we opted to head back into Swanage, dump the bikes back in the car and have a mooch and a pub lunch. Hey ho.
That evening we went out for a drive to check out where the Sunday event started from. It was a lovely pub overlooking the sea and the Old Harry rock. We had our tea there. As it was still quite early we also checked out Corfe Castle as I knew the route passed through it. It was in a fantastic little village and there was some sort of crazy re-enactment thing going on there. I'm not quite sure what the theme was as there seemed to be Mongol hordes, Vikings, Saxons and er, a guy in a pith helmet with what looked like welders goggles on. Hmm.
Sunday dawned and yet again we went to Swanage. The event briefing largely consisted of Charlie telling us 'Don't be a dick'. Ok then. Everybody else rode up to the headland and we went back to the car to drive up so Cath could keep up with what was going on. We had a bit of a flap when we discovered the bloody battery had gone flat but eventually I got us sorted (tip - don't buy a car with a fecking electric handbrake as you can't bump it).
Up at the pub people were milling around quaffing pints before the off. Yep, that's pretty singlespeedy, I thought. As it wasn't a race and went through some popular areas on a Bank Holiday weekend we set off in small groups. I was soon up on the Downs (pardon?) and admiring the view out to sea on what was a gorgeous day. I bumped into a guy I know from Hit the North and hooked up riding with him and his American girl;friend for a while. This guy can ride a bit and despite him recovering from snapped tendon in his wrist he was hammering along. It was fun staying with him.
Eventually we ended up as part of a larger group dropping down to the midway point where upon someone uttered the immortal line 'Where are you headed for? For Corfe!' Think about it...
The place was rammed. Loons in various types of armour mixed with loons on one geared bicycles while tourists looked on, mouths agape. I tucked into a nice pint of bitter and bumped into Keef who I'd first properly met at SSEC t'other month. He introduced me to his lot including Tazzy the tattooed beat messiah and Keefs lad who was riding a 1940's fixie!! When we set off again it was apparent that they were taking a more leisurely approach to the ride so I kicked back and stayed with them.
The route was nice, and the weather made it even better. We had an extended stop to mend a couple of punctures and then we were at the finish. Surprisingly enough it was at a pub! We sprawled about in the sunshine and quaffed pints of bitter and cider and suddenly it was your typical SS do.
There was a hog roast and a Scottish poet (??) and eventually there was the presentation. Charlie had asked everyone to bring something with them to put in the prize stash - a belting idea, I thought. The 'winner' of the 'race' was eventually decided on and a very surprised looking girl got to choose something nice from the pile. Various other things were awarded prizes - worst tattoo being a particular standout! Eventually it ended up with 'help yourself to whats left'. I think pretty much everybody got something.
Cath eventually dragged me off before I got totally wasted - I had been in deep conversation about drugs with a couple of mates from Brighton - and we headed back to the tent. It had been a great day.
After a bracing walk up a nearby hill in the morning we packed up and wended our way home. It only took 5 1/2 hours to get home!
It had been a great weekend away and Charlie the Bikemonger had put on a great event. Fair play to the big fella.