Osprey 12 – Swimming Through The Trails
Sat 8th June 2019, 4am and the alarm reverberates through the van to draw a tired mind out of it’s slumber. Awakening senses steadily become aware of the rain thrumming away on the roof and lashing against the windows. Oh joy. Weather like this can only mean one thing: race time at Kielder! With alarming predictability the weather Gods had deemed it fit to grace today’s competitors with a healthy dose of moisture which added an extra layer of difficulty on an already tough 12 hour gig.
Parking at the event is all on the forest track which forms the main climb from transition. Cars were all guided in, people finding their spot and getting set up with gazebos to shelter from the elements whilst others opted for crates of food placed by the side of the track. Bikes out and ready as the clock counted down to a 7am start. Familiar faces were up for a hard days racing, steely eyed expressions set for the task ahead. It was also great to meet lots of new people who’s enthusiasm was infectious.
Drew gave the safety talk and then the count down was on for a low key start as the rain came down. John of the Lanark Race Team, David Gobby and Keith Forsyth set off like missiles, tearing up the hill like their lives depended on it. By the time they had come back round it was John leading the way just ahead of Keith, posting a 34 minute lap in the process. Blistering pace, but could it be maintained?
A few words about the course. The Osprey trail at Kielder is a bit of a hidden gem. It doesn’t lend itsef nicely to events as it’s off the beaten track so we decided to bring the event to the trail instead. There is a large amount of fast flowing single track that rolls this way and that. Three large trail section linked by small fire road sections. It’s blue graded so the wheels are pretty much always on the deck apart from the odd jump that can be taken at speed. There are some nasty little climbs in there, one early doors and a nasty one following a bridge later on that became a bit of a chore later on in the day.
The real jewel in the crown for the race was the way it linked up back to transition. Last year we took a road which turned in to a muddy grinding paste kind of cycling hell. This year we moved it further down the track but couldn’t go past the entrance to the Gowanburn residency. In the dry the track was interesting a a hard but good ride. In the wet however, it turned in to Satan’s love child and tried to extract every ounce of energy in your legs with very little progress in return. A lot of people made their mind up that running was easier than trying to ride through. Amazingly some of the fast riders could plough through at a decent pace.
Let’s not forget about the log of joy at the end of the lap. A tree way too big to be chopped or moved so we just left it in place and cut away the sharp edges so that people could hop over before riding back in to the marquee. Come the end of the race it was a fine spectator sport to watch exhausted riders approach the tree, stop before it and then just stare at it in disgust for ten seconds before jumping over it. It brought a tasty glow to my ticker to see such broken people.
As the day wore on the riding tested resilience of people and machines. One mans single speed chain ring went pop on lap 2 and he spent the rest of the day taking pics. New brake pads vanished faster than Theresa Mays Brexit plans and the cheerfulness of Gill Crane was quite uplifting. All along the line of cars you could see riders pulling in for a quick bit of refueling before getting back out on to the track to stick another lap in.
As the clock would down the end game was in sight. Everyone had choices to make as to whether to put themselves out there again given the time available. If you’re clocking an average of 50 minutes a lap and you’ve got 55 minutes left and tired legs; do you give it a go? The real race is always against yourself and many decided to get back out and push themselves one last time. As the wind dropped and the midges descended it was a very wise choice to keep pedaling and stay on the move. The little blighters would swarm anyone who stood still for more than 5 seconds!
Keith Forsyth was the last man out and when he came back in the day way was done. Results after a hard days racing were:
1. Sally Buckworth
2. Joanne Gibson
3. Fiona McBain
V40. Sally Buckworth
V50. Gill Crane
SS. Sally Buckworth
1. Eddie Addis
2. David Gobby
3. Saul Muldoon
V40. Edie Addis
V50. Richard Wilson
V60. Danny Mills
SS. Saul Muldoon
1. Cardiac Risk in the Young (Keith Forsyth, Barry Kemp)
2. Lanark Race Team (John Simpson, Steven Small)
3. Mountain Goats (Neil Williamson ,Mark Heritage)
All results can be found here: http://www.racesplitter.com/races/B25715916
All free to download images can be found here: https://martinandjohnphotography.smugmug.com/Sport/Osprey-12
The award ceremonies brought an end to activities and everyone made their way back home. Some had long journeys either north or south and I heard stories of service station stops with people looking like John Wayne as their legs stiffened up. Why do we do this to ourselves? It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow, it comes down to the absolute basic enjoyment of riding a bike. Doing this with like minded people at a great location just adds to the occasion. Personally I love sharing the experience with everyone and in my own team it was a pleasure to ride with endurance cycling legend Keith Forsyth (super nice guy by the way).
A huge thanks needs to be given to all the marshals who gave up their time to make the event possible. These lot cheered, encouraged and helped in every way possible whilst batting away the flying pets. Hats off to them.
What’s coming next? In terms of the Frontier XC Series for 2019 there is just one more race left and that’s the Kielder MTB Marathon in September. The 100 mile option is a race (with points) and the 50 mile option is a none competitive sportive. It’ll be tough but you probably knew that already! Next year there will be no Osprey 12 or Lewis Burn 8 but one of them will probably return in future years. It’s looking likely that there will be an 8 hour race at Hamsterley Forest on 2nd May so keep that date in your diary. Also don’t forget the crazy Kielder Chiller 24.
Thanks again for coming along and making the Osprey 12 a great day out in the rain. The Cold Brew Events team look forward to seeing you all again soon.