Now in its eleventh year, the Soggy Bottom series has long been the South West’s favourite race series / social event. Striking just the right balance of fast racing, relaxed atmosphere and beginner accessibility has always been a winning formula and for the 2013/2014 season it will be situation normal…with added extras.
Newnham Park has contained some of the UK’s best mountain bike trials over the past few decades – think back to The Pipeline, Cottage Return, The Mineshaft, and even the new kid on the block: The Bear Pit. Severe deforestation in many parts of the park saw us with our heads in our hands during the spring but now offers a blank canvas for those of us with a trail-building bent.
Expect new trails to emerge – lots of “where the hell are we?” moments and frantic trail-christening ceremonies on Strava. But don’t panic, while our personal riding may lean towards The Bear Pit end of the spectrum, we’ll bottle that up and provide you with Bluebell Woods-like wonders instead.
Expect new sponsors and new partners, but with us, the season’s bang-one trend is always going to be ‘Shabby Chic’.
Full info + online entry: Round 1 - 16th February 2014 Round 2 - 16th March 2014
Timetable of events
0800 – Bike Jumble starts. £5-00 per table, proceeds to Brain Tumour Research.
0830 – Registration opens.
0900 – Course opens for pre-ride. There may not be marshals in place, or St. John on site yet, so let’s be careful out there.
1000 – Race One - Juvenile, Youth, Fun and Grand Vet.
1215 – Presentation for Race One. Don’t be late or your prize
goes on e-bay.
1200 – Course open for practice for Race Two.
1300 – Race Two – Masters, Vets, Sport (inc Junior), Elite
1515 – Presentation for Race Two. Don’t be late - that means you, Southfork.
Frequently asked questions (oh, how frequently!)
Do I need a race licence?
No. Anyone can enter this event and there is no need to buy a day licence.
How technical will it be?
This is a Soggy Bottom, the classic introduction to mountain bike racing. It’ll be tricky riding at speed, but will only register a 3.5 on the gnarliness scale.
What category shall I enter?
Have a look at the category page in this newsletter.
What shall I carry / wear?
‘Be bold, start cold’. You aren’t going to be out there for more than 1 ½ hours so you won’t need a camelbak, sandwiches or overnight bag. Strip down to racing kit, put emergency spares in your pocket, put a water bottle on your bike and snacks in your jersey. Think Bradley Wiggins, not Bear Gryls.
Where does the number go?
OVER THE CABLES! Unless you want to incur the wrath of Khan, do not put your number under the cables. Your number is really hard to read if you do, so don’t blame us if we can’t read it and miss your lap. Use the cable ties to attach it to your handlebars and cables, then have a look from the front and make sure that it is easily visible from the front.
Can I pre-ride the course?
Yes. In fact we would advise that you do. Allow plenty of time on race day for a relaxed pre-ride. Get to the venue at least an hour early. You will never perform to your maximum ability if you haven’t had a look
beforehand. Newnham Park is private land, and an active shooting ground. Do not attempt to enter the estate before the event.
How is it marked?
Badly. The course is marked with endless arrows, stakes and tape. White arrows show you what direction to go in, tape will keep you on track and stop you cheating and yellow arrows indicate a specific hazard coming up. One downward pointing arrow indicates a minor hazard, a double downward arrow is a significant hazard and a triple arrow is imminent death. Just slow down and have a look first.
How many laps?
The number of laps will be displayed in the registration, and the British Cycling commissaire will remind you on the start line. The race duration for different categories is set in stone and decided by God, so just expect to be out there for 1 ½ hours and you won’t go far wrong.
How long will a lap, and how long will it take me?
Laps are generally about 5km long and will take you less time if you pedal quicker!
What is the overtaking / being overtaken etiquette?
When you come up behind a slower rider, give them a lot of notice that you are approaching by shouting ‘rider’ or ‘track’, then when you get close to them, either stipulate which side you are going to pass on ‘On your left / right’ or give them the choice of side ‘coming past when you’re ready’. Don’t be a bully – you’re not that good. Be patient, and once you have overtaken, thank the rider. When being overtaken, just relax, acknowledge the rider behind and pull to the side when you feel comfortable. DON’T STOP, just pull over to one side. If we as organisers hear that any of the riders have been abusive during the race, they will be black-balled and not welcome at any of our future events. You have been warned.
How are the series standings calculated?
For the series, it’s all 3 rounds to count. First place in each race earns 40 points, 39 for second etc etc. Don’t ask why, it’s just always been done that way. Folk with the most points win the series. What do points make? Prizes!
South West MTB Youth Team – the beginning.
The Inter Regional Youth Event at Hadleigh Farm has spawned a monster.
In October 2012, the South West MTB community pooled its resources in order to send a team of Youth and Juvenile riders to the Inter Regional event at Hadleigh Farm, under the occasionally watchful, but mostly distracted eye, of Jay and Maddie Horton from Fully Sussed and Rob Barker from VeloLoco.
Two days of fierce competition later and the tired team had several hours of driving home to reflect on their experiences. Conclusions were –
1) We’d had our legs ripped off by the other regions. Undeniable fact.
2) We’d had a barrel of laughs and learned a lot - mostly about Chaz’s ability to do a Jar Jar Binks impression.
3) Most importantly, nobody was demoralised and in fact everyone went away determined to make amends and come back fighting.
What are you going to do about it?
Within 24 hours the squad’s Facebook page was up and running.
Before the week was out the Hortons had drafted the first of the monthly training programmes, sent it out to all riders, and arranged the first of the weekly training sessions. A collective groan was heard across the region.
In January we added a ‘public’ Facebook page so that we can publically thank our sponsors, let people know what we are up to, and give other young riders something to aspire to.
We soon discovered that asking sponsors for goodies and deals for a youth squad resulted in a resounding ‘yes!’ To date, we have support from Shred, Silverfish, National Trust, Newnham Park, Inevent, Reed Chillcheater and Juice Lubes. But we don’t need much – mostly just bikes, time and motivation.
With training groups in North Devon on Tuesdays and in Plymouth on Thursdays, the South West Youth Squad has 2 organised opportunities each week to meet up and train hard together, as
Initially organised around Sunday races, every month the squad has set a date for a weekend away together. Pooling resources and attracting sponsorship means that we can now accommodate a big group of riders for a Saturday training session, information giving and group hugs, followed by a race on the Sunday with an ever growing team of supporters. No more lonely race fields for us.
The riders all continue to ride and race for their respective clubs and teams, but get together for training and will enter some team races under the banner of the South West Youth Team. Look for us at Bristol Bike Fest and 24-12 in the South West race kit. We’ll also be at all the Nationals, the South West series, and the Soggies.
The selected riders have been invited to train with the squad based on their race results.
When they have been deemed to have ‘earned their stripes’ with the squad they will get their squad hoodie, for services to mountain biking and lycra wearing, and be invited to come along on the squad weekenders – training, Haribo eating, training and racing a speciality. Their club or team will remain their priority, but wherever possible we will enter a SW team in an event. Selection for the team will be based not only on results, but also on enthusiasm, attitude and level of involvement with the Facebook, blog and website. It’s not just about the bike.
With major sponsors coming on board in their droves, the squad is gathering significant momentum. Watch this space for rider updates, race reports, and all manner of trivia concerning the perils of being a young MTB racer.
For some years, there have always been keen as mustard Plymothian Dads and kids, having had a blinder of a day at a Soggy Bottom race, asking what they can do to keep their personal Olympic flame alive.
Up until now there has always been an embarrassing amount of shuffling, throat clearing and explanations that start with “Well, you see, the thing is…”
No longer! Now there is an almost clear direction to head in if you are a young, aspiring Plymouth cyclist. If you are over the age of 18 – you’re old enough to sort your own life out.
The meeting of minds between Fully Sussed, RUTraining Today, Certini and Plymouth Corinthians has led to the creation of several opportunities each week for young cyclists to come together for training, coaching and racing.
With both road and mountain bike sessions to choose from, with qualified coaches, you’ll always find a group of like-minded bike fanatics to hang out with.
Go to the RUTraining Today website, look us up under Plymouth Youth Cycling on Facebook or just have a chat to Jay or Maddie at a mountain bike event.