When I was asked by On One's campest employee if I wanted to join him and his mates on a romantic weekend away glamping and Gravel Adventure racing I had several reservations. The flamboyant Mr Garner promised a weekend of epic gravel riding, hard flooring, raw meat, a lack of sleep and maybe a few special surprises.
I cautiously agreed under three conditions, the first being I could stink like a badger and not be pestered during the weekend, secondly, that I could wear whatever kit I wanted no matter how ridiculous it would be and finally that I was the little spoon to keep me warm if it got too cold in our glamping wagon. I'd recently just put together a new titanium Tempest gravel bike so was keen to give it some stick so racing the Moors and Shores would be perfect.
Kicking off this year's Adventure Cross season, the Moors and Shores takes place on an expansive course that begins at Dalby forest and packs in a real mixture of terrain. From gravel forest roads to exposed moorland and rutted narrow lanes this route offers plenty of contrast in a constantly changing landscape. It's the perfect course for the Tempest, with plenty of space for 38mm tyres to soak up the ruts and a titanium frame to smooth out the trail buzz there's nothing I'd rather ride on these trails.
On a Saturday afternoon, we all clambered in the car got the bikes installed on the rack to make the way up to Dalby. Simon, or as he would be known for the rest of the weekend Captain America due to his American cyclocross team kit mixed with an American themed Tomac cyclocross bike. Captain America’s bowels had been bad all week so we were potentially in for an interesting weekend, certainly, he'd be riding at the back of the pack.
After unpacking it was time for dinner, all of a sudden the gimp gas mask was out and the meat was cooking. We never got to the bottom of who had brought a gimp mask with them to a camping adventure but my money is on it being from Garner's party box! Fortunately, as we were cooking in the open air the gas mask wasn't needed, though it could have helped in the Glamping Wagon that night as Captain America's bowels got the better of him, and us.
A quick meal full of undercooked and unrefrigerated meat and we were off to bed. I felt sore in the morning but that was hopefully just sleeping on a hard floor. We climbed into our ridiculous cycling kits and made our way to the event.
The ride started well and our group of riders broke away from the main group. The start of the ride consisted of XC trails then moved on to a winding gravel path we climbed for around 3 miles till we reached the top. This is where we lost the lead as Captain America had a front wheel puncture. A quick change and we were back on pace. p>The next section turned into sprawling moorland further than the eye could see. This is where the technical elements of the course started to rear their head demanding that you had bike skills in spades. With one sketchy moment where one of our group almost went over the bars, we were back on gravel roads for around 10 miles followed by another 7 miles on the road where we ended up at the half way point feed station.
After stuffing our faces at the feed station we continued on route to hitting the toughest climb. We were swinging over the front end, panting like a bunch of ill dogs and about to be sick. Despite this, I was still stuffing my face with a flapjack as Carter never turns down a free meal.
After completing the climb the majority of the rest of the ride was easy forest track or open gravel paths back to the Dalby resort. Coming up to the last 10K we met a Vickers (Serious Racer) who seemed to get very upset with my comedy attire and some of the slower riders on course. After the Vickers was very rude to everyone Mr Garner defended my honour and chased the scallion down and made sure he had plenty of difficulties trying to overtake him. Eventually, we tired of teasing the Vickers and we let him escape as we pushed onto the finish line.
After crossing the finish line we had time for a quick coffee before we had to make tracks as captain America was about to blow. A quick dash to the campsite to collect our things and we were back on the road to the office. Bish Bash Bosh- Job Done!
We quickly made sure Garner bowed down to the new Gravel King and then packed it all up and headed back to On-One towers.
Till next time…..
6 April 2017