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Famer John's Weekender, Marple, Manchester

farmer johnsLast weekend was supposed to be the final round of the British Downhill Series at Fort William. However an aggressive weather forecast led to this being postponed for a few weeks and moved to a more sensible venue for this time of year. This left my weekend open and after considering the different options I decided to head over to Marple, just south of Manchester and Stockport to join in the fun at Farmer John’s weekender.

I haven’t been to an event where I can just relax and have a laugh riding bikes with my friends for as long as I can remember so for me this was a welcome break. I loaded my estate car as full as I possibly could on Saturday morning and headed over with Gee Milner who was keen to point his camera at stuff.

Saturday was a practise day on the race track. It was only a push up so getting lots of runs in meant you had to work for it. The top of the track was predominantly pedalling with some decent jumps thrown in and then the bottom section got much more fun when we headed into the trees. I spent most of the day sectioning this part of the track with various people attempting different lines, crashing and generally getting pretty wild. Most people including myself were only riding 5”or 6” travel bikes so on the wet greasy roots keeping things under control was easier said than done.

famer johns headlights onWe finished riding the track at about 4.30 and had a couple of hours to chill before the night race started. I spent this time setting up camp around the ezup so we had somewhere sorted to get our drink on in the evening. The night race was down a short burmy track with a few little jumps. Pretty simple but a real good laugh. It was illuminated with a line of light bulbs running down the track but I, with the assistance of a few of my buddies, decorated the front of my Ellsworth Epiphany with as many powerful bike lights as I could find. I think we ended up with four on there by the time we’d finished.

We finished racing at 10.30! Far too late in my opinion – one race run and then move onto beer drinking would have been more than satisfactory. The racing got exciting between me and my mate James Swindon. Even though I was effectively cheating with all the bikes lights on when everyone else was just relying on the little river of bulbs hovering over the track he still managed to beat me on the first run by a couple of tenths. Second run I went quicker by half a second but then the bugger came down and beat me again by 200ths this time. So good effort by Swinny. We then moved on to get hammered!

farmer johnsThe ezup was the home of loud music and alcohol through to about 3am which left us all feeling worse for wear in the morning!! It was a surprisingly good night all things considered – we were in a field, there were only two girls being my girlfriend Sarah and Swinny’s bird Marie-Ann and our various voluntary DJs spent most of the night playing either hardcore rave music or crap like ‘The Cheeky Girls’…. I’ve barely touched alcohol through the whole season so it was cool to have a party at an event for once!

My hung-over head eventually managed to persuade my aching body onto my Ellworth Moment at about 11am and off for two and a half practise runs before racing started. When I was off the bike I felt like complete death but surprisingly when I got riding I felt ok. I don’t like getting beat, even at little mess about events and especially by one of my mates who enjoys rubbing it in. I went out hard in my first race run and was fastest by about 2 seconds with more time in the tank for second run. I then went two seconds quicker with a 1 minute 20 about 3.5 seconds in front of second. Better.

So an awesome weekend. Credit to Farmer John who put on a great event which was loads of fun and hopefully I’ll manage to fit it in again next year!!

Next up is a the rescheduled national at Caersws on the 9th of October. That will pretty much wrap up things for 2011!

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