Relative to previous years, Mayhem provided a surprisingly technical challenge, largely due to the preceeding week’s rain. It was certainly a torturous challenge to the legs, for when you weren’t climbing you were riding through plasticine, I understand that roadies would refer to this as “grippy”. However, once in the corners and descents, in mountain bike talk it was far from grippy; with slick roots, corners and awkward cobble climbs providing the real challenge, if you managed to climb them all staying on the bike, you did well.
Leaving the glory of the 2013 win with Brotherton Cycles, this year, I guested for Stroud Brewery. A lovely bunch, whom I only met on Saturday morning, after replying to an advert for a female rider, via Twitter. Welcomed in as one of their own, I felt very relaxed and comfortable. The camp was excellent, fully stocked with quality, varied and nutritious food, and the camp stove on the go for most of the 24hrs. I was well catered for! A bunch of active and enthusiastic folk, the commitment to the cause was impressive, no one slacked off, as we all tried to contribute with our strengths, no egos.
I love riding my bike, I particularly love mountain biking. I’ve had a rough few weeks with “bruisie-bottom syndrome” and work issues, so I was keen to get to Mayhem to start socialising again in the rich community that mountain biking provides. So refreshing to just ride with no hard agenda, I can’t say I rode particularly well but it felt great.
Mayhem seemed a little quiet this year, indeed when I totted up the numbers of total entries, in 2013 there were ~503, this year only ~242. It was nice to see the camp fires and warm encouragement but I felt there was a distinct lack of banter through both the arena and the trackside riding. There seemed to be less younger people, where were the university cycle clubs with their heckling and banging tunes along the track? Where were the super-elite riders that you usually see at these events? I don’t know enough about the politics or processes of these events but I guess the lack of prize money won’t attract quality riders. Perhaps, it is now essentially an off-road “fun run”, not necessarily a bad thing but a bit like losing an old friend from mountain biking. On a good note, less riders on the course made for less traffic on the single track. Hopefully, for the 20 years anniversary next year, they will be some revamping and re-inventing.