Battle on the Beach 2017 - Kev Darragh
5 past midnight on January 1st I entered the Battle on the Beach to mark the end of my Decembeer challenge with the idea of getting a bit fitter by the time I line up on the start. Things were going well I managed to stay off the beer until January 3rd and rode my bike once and sometimes twice a week, I kept this training regime going until the day before the race. Jake and I set off on the 4 and half hour drive to Wales and arrived at the venue about 2pm on Saturday met a few friends then set off on a sighting lap. The course was similar to last year with a couple of extra technical bits. Preparation went well in the hotel with a large mixed grill, 3 pints of Doombar, 1 pint of cider and in bed by midnight.
Up early on race day 8:30am followed by a fry up at 9 to be at the venue by 10:30am. We signed on, attached our timing chips and number boards and rode about like the pros waving at people. 2 HMTB and 4 Basildon CC members headed to the beach to arrive on the start line about 35 minutes before the start of the race only to find 600 competitors already there. The atmosphere was great cross bikes, fat bikes and MTB’s side by side looking forward to 26 miles of fun.
The start was on soft sand for 100 meters then 5 miles of flat hard pack sand which is superfast ideal for a cross bike. Most of the competitors ran the first bit but as I have short legs I was last one of our group on to the hard packed sand. The course turns right off the beach into another 100 meters of soft sand so off the bike again for another run. The next section fast rolling tractor tracks with bumps and the odd pocket of soft sand was ideal for a 29er. After a short section of fire road we hit the first piece of single track followed by the sand dunes, Fat bike territory, descending and climbing sand dunes on a cross bike is quite fun. On the start of lap 3 I caught up with my old team mate Stuart Clark, the ideal person to sit behind on open, flat hard packed sand. For 8 minutes he kept the speed up above 25mph then he picked the pace which was a bit more than I could manage and he dropped me. I made my way to the finish slower than the other two laps as I was knackered and needed a pork pie.
My conclusion, this race is awesome and must for any off road racer whether cross bike, Fat bike or MTB , my performance was not bad on beer and fried food.