There is nothing I like better than sitting at home with a cup of coffee trawling the net for new and interesting events I can travel too... I don’t let geography limit my selection of what I want to go and ride and I am constantly amazed by the creativity of events in their format and location.
With this desire to ride new events all the time its no surprise that I very rarely go back to the same event twice .. this is no reflection on how good these events are its just that with finite time and money and a ‘must do’ list of events ever increasing its difficult to ever repeat anything.
There are however a few events that I will continue to go back to as long as the organisers give up their time and usually money to put these events on ... Hit the North in Manchester is one of these events.
Hit the North falls early in the year in February .. the weather can be blizzards of snow or glorious sunshine ( February in the UK is a strange one) ... the course on the whole remains mostly unchanged ( this is no bad thing) and the format is very simple ...you race for 2 hours and you ride a CX bike or a mtb or if you are fancy you have both just in case.
The course is so devised that the split between whether a CX or Mtb is a better machine is a close call and it literally comes down to the weather on the day .. if its muddy the CX boys will love it.. if its dry then the descents will favour the Mtb riders.
I went to the event this year with no expectations .. I would of normally had a season of cyclocross in my legs but as I am going to Trans Iowa and it falls relatively early in the year I have concentrated on just being on my bike as much as possible for as long as possible.
The start line gridding is one for riders honesty .. if you genuinely believe you are ‘Nick Craig’ fast or actually Nick Craig then you take up the first few rows .. then the speed of rider filters back .. I decided first half of the pack seemed appropriate for an unknown level of fitness.
The race started as I was casually looking the wrong way not on my bike with a jacket in my hand J Not exactly textbook. All that meant was that I had a lot of people to ride with for the entire race.
The course was perfect for the Salsa El Mariachi singlespeed ... alot of flowing stuff with a few short sharp climbs which weren’t too bad ... I felt great flowing round just picking up places as I went ... even the horrible muddy ‘field of dispair’ .. a long muddy push ... allowed some mid race banter between riders.
There is a lot to be said with racing with no expectation or goal .. it was a very enjoyable experience and I think my final race position benefited from my relaxed riding ... as I looked to eat a gel at what I though was an hour in I had been racing for 1:50 Hours !!
I was caught and lapped by Nick Craig 500m from the line on what was then my last lap .. no shame as the man is getting nothing but faster and is a total gent while racing.
Final standing was 21st from 240 finishers and a fantastic day out on the bike was had.
Huge thanks to the race organisers for yet again putting on a fantastic event and I will be back next year ... and the year after ... and the year after ... J