Saturday was set to be wet and gloomy. The allotment had suffered more rain in the lead up to the 2nd round of the TickerTape Winter series than it had done in ages, the trails were soft and roots were slippery.
Over the past few weeks a few die-hard members have been practising Puppets in an effort to put in some good times on the day. To be fair, most people have a couple of 'practise runs' in the lead up to any of the TickerTapes, but this was different, this was a display of more than a whimsical semi effort, this was all out dedication, and boy did it pay off...
Within moments of the track being open Curtis Saunders marked up his first time, a time that would only be beaten by himself all day long. To put that into perspective Curtis was riding against Steve Geall, Chris Smith and Rob Lewis - all bloody quick but not in the same league on the day, Curtis was on fire.
The track was a real mix of ground conditions with a sloppy start into an almost sandy mid section before some glassy roots then full on slop and corner ruts by the bottom - it was a real test, and one that evolved as the track was ridden.
Liam Arkell showed the continued progression that he's become known for, and a great attitude of getting back up and trying again when ever he came off. Tom Dunford was another rider that impressed; Tom rode the mid section with a really attacking style that looked fast and on the edge, a real step up and one that didn't go unrewarded. Tom won the coveted Beans trophy while Liam was awarded a "king of the hill" T shirt both courtesy of Rose Bikes.
Chris Smith made a brief appearance, taking a break from being a proud farther to ride his bike in the interest of keeping the "overall" in reach. Despite a pretty impressive effort given the lack of sleep and clear zombie look about him, Chris was off the pace placing 6th leaving him needing a pretty special performance in the last two rounds.
Steve Geall was rocking an XC / Retro tyre mix with a Paneracer Trail Raker on the front and a Michelin DH Mud on the rear, but it worked well even with that poncey mudguard he'd bodged on the back. Steve rode well but got distracted by the urge to pull super-tweaks on the "WEEEEEEBOING" berm and lost valuable time.
Jason Southam popped his TickerTape cherry, James Richards made too many excuses, Ben Lovell's mum made the best cookies ever, Rob Lewis looked like he'd been sleeping rough for the past few days and rode like he had too, Jamie and Pip were hardcore (or stupid) riding to and from the event and racing in jeans, Keith seemed to get a little frightened of a big tree, Simon actually got to recored a time, Bob should have spent less time worrying about other people's times and Ben Irons was seen riding a full sussseerrrrrrR.
All in all it was a great day, one that had everyone wishing they'd shown even half the commitment that Curtis and others had in the lead up to the race. Sure if we all rode it on the same terms the times might have been a little different, but not the result, Curtis schooled every one of us.
Thanks to everyone who helped set up and pack away, especially Ian Crook who came out early despite not being able to ride, to Rose Bikes for the great prizes and to Shimano for the race tape.
(Click on the poster at the top of the page to see the overall standings)