Brighton Big Dog has become a classic event on the UK calendar and an event I’ve won 4 consecutive times since 2012. The expectation was on me to take a 5th victory but as I always say there’s a race to be done, anything can happen, and there were plenty of other competitors hoping to take away that crown. It’s now 3 weeks since Transalp stage race, enough time to have a little mid season break, followed by 2 very big weeks of training as I build up to some big target races. I was heading into this event therefore with fatigue but wanted to put on a good showing for the sponsors.
Brighton Big Dog has gained its reputation based on several aspects which the organisers nail every time. A fantastic atmosphere largely thanks to the brilliant arena setup. Hugely enthusiastic marshals always offering words of support or ready to heckle you if you don’t look to be trying hard enough. One of the best lap based courses in the UK with enough modifications each years to keep it fresh and exciting, this year there was even a part of the course named after me! Winners trophy’s you actually want to show yours friends. There are amazing prizes, many events say prizes aren’t that important but I certainly appreciate a pay cheque and some nice swag for all the effort that goes into my training and racing. This is a great event.
Midday the mountain bike race begins, up the long start climb, I don’t need to be at the front of the race with the people racing in the team of 4 or pairs category’s but feel comfortable enough and would rather stay out of trouble at the front. 3 of us quickly establish a lead with the other solo riders falling out of sight behind. About two thirds of the way through the lap I throttle back, there’s no point wasting energy opening a huge gap so early, the race is won at the end, not the start. This position is a good situation to be in. Lap 2 Tim Dunford the second place solo riders bridges across to me, I was happy for the company, 6 hours can make for a lonely race. George Budd is in 3rd place but a little off the pace.
John Newport from Vermont Images was on hand to support throughout the day. I was using the new USN PureFit Burst Energy Gels and Enduro Energy Drink. The race is 6 hours long with laps taking about 30 minutes. In the first half of the race I had a gel every 30 minutes before changing to a gel every 45 minutes for the last 3 hours. I drank 500ml’s of energy drink every lap which for me was enough in the 20 degree heat.
Tim and I rode together for a couple of laps but then I’m out alone in the lead once again. The legs felt great, no sign of the fatigue from the heavy training. Thanks to the sponsors I was riding a brand new Turner Czar built for the last half of the race season. That new bike feeling always makes you a little faster and this Czar was having an awesome time jumping and swooping through the Stanmar Park trails. I created several timing points around the course where I’d memorise how long it took me to get there on the previous lap so I knew if I was on pace or not, this way I could ride consistent lap times.
The solo race is won by the rider who does the maximum number of laps within the 6 hours. Any lap completed after that 6 hours doesn’t count. After 5 hours 20 and 10 laps I came through the arena with enough time to start another lap. Another 31 minutes later I crossed the line arms aloft to win a 5th Brighton Big Dog. A fantastic day of racing, if you’ve not raced this event before get your entry in for 2017, you won’t be disappointed. The first of 3 British events successfully ticked off. On Monday it was back to hard training for those next 2 big targets which include the defence of my National Championships title in 2 weeks time.
All photographs, Vermont Images