Well, it’s finally happened, Muckmedden is now a living, breathing mountain biking event instead of just being a logo and a description on a website.
On April 22nd, after 14 months of organising and bashing away at a keyboard (ahem), Pitmedden forest came alive when literally hundreds of people arrived, either to watch the racing or take part in it. It was a fantastic turnout and the weather was kind to us, especially after the three weeks of torrential rain that lead up to race day. Riding conditions couldn’t have been more challenging for the Muckers who rode what is a very testing course even when it’s dry.
Banners were positioned at the trickier sections of the course and dressed the forest up a treat, adding a bit of race glamour to sections such as Drop Dead Fred and the SKA Trail. Deborah Hackett provided a very entertaining commentary helped by the outdoor address equipment from Sam Gifford that transmitted her voice around the forest nice and clearly. She did especially well with the commentary considering this was her first time at a mountain bike race. Fantastic, and it just added to the tongue in cheek, laid back vibe we wanted at Muckmedden.
Rachel (Lady Muck) and Laura dispatched with the queues of eager Muckers at the registration tent in their own inimitable style with help from Darren and Liz. The army of Muckmarshals also performed brilliantly throughout the day, directing traffic, encouraging riders to keep going and having some banter with them. The famous Pitmedden Wolfman even made an appearance at several parts of the course!
Many thanks to the British Red Cross who covered First Aid on the day with the backing of Darren and Claire, thankfully we had nothing too serious, and the one incident I saw was dealt with without any problems. With the slippery conditions and the technical nature of the course I expected more casualties, but I was more than happy to be proven wrong on that score.
Throughout the day, the smell of cooked venison from Fletchers of Auchtermuchty and Hatters and Co’s veggie burgers (a recipe specially formulated for Muckmedden) filled the air. The smell of cake didn’t fill the air, but there were plenty of those available too, including some amazing Muckmedden cupcakes made by Stella from Hatters and Co. I managed to squeeze one of those in while I wasn’t flappping about like a chicken with it’s heid cut off.
What a week leading up to the race. It was a hectic, emotional roller coaster and it ended with a massive sense of relief and happiness when the day went to plan and lots of smiles started to appear. The whole event’s been a huge learning curve with lessons learnt, but thankfully only minor tweaks are required to improve things, and judging by the feedback from everyone, it was a resounding success!
One thing I wasn’t expecting, came in the morning of the race when the timing people arrived. It turned out we’d have to move the start/finish off the fireroad, as First Aid weren’t allowed to drive over the timing mats to get access to the White Loop. I didn’t know this until an hour before Muckmedden Lite, and I quickly had to alter the course. Nice and stressful at the time.
The original idea was to have the mats directly in front of the start of the White and Blue loops, so that teams could cross the timing mats between stages and straight into the transition area to swap riders. This was also going to be where Deborah would be in the trailer so she could spot the riders as they approached the timing mats to help her with the commentary. People could also mill around in a no-ride zone without being mown down by mountain bikers, and split times would be displayed in the window of the trailer, so people could see stage times as the race wore on. That didn’t happen unfortunately, but the day went really well in spite of that, and thankfully it didn’t detract from the day at all.
There were also some problems with the portaloo’s, as I ordered three and only two arrived. Then, the two toilets that were delivered didn’t seem to have any water in them, and after a few hours we had to shut one of them completely. Not pleased about that, it’s important to have good, useable facilities at events like these, so apologies if you were affected by this.
Moving onto the races, and although there were some great battles within all categories, a couple of performances really stood out for me. The first rider who deserves a mention is Huw Oliver, overall winner of Mental Muckers with a time of 2hrs 02mins 08secs. If you’ve ridden the course you’ll know what a blistering time that is, but given the condition of the trails on the day it’s an actual miracle, congratulations Huw, you have flung doon the goblet with a time like that.
Next up for a mention has got to be Ewan Gronkowski who claimed second place in Mental Muckers with 2hrs 07mins 47secs. The reason his time is so special, is he rode more than a lap with no saddle at all! He didn’t even stop to drop the seatpost and rode the super-technical course with a spiky pole an inch from his bum at all times! I’m not sure if having a spiky pole near my bum would make me ride that fast, but hopefully I won’t be finding out anytime soon. Well done Ewan, now go and have a sit down on a comfy chair
Last mention goes to Joe Nally, overall winner of the first ever Muckmedden Lite with ten laps under his belt. No mean feat, and a fantastic acheivement that would give more than a few Mad Muckers a fright. Congratulations to you Joe.
Of course, while all this was going on, Tom from Collective Training and Adam from Progression Bikes had built a fantastic skills course/pump track in the centre car park for everyone to have a crack on, and also to offer free riding tuition to those who wanted to hone their skills. The track looked like a great laugh, and I am disappointed I didn’t get to ride it, (I was too busy playing on a Walkie Talkie somewhere) but I’ve since heard lots of great reviews from those who did have a blast. Many thanks chaps, sterling work.
Bannatynes Health Club were also on hand to give visitors a free health check and they kindly donated 200 drinks bottles to give away at the event.
There were a few major mechanicals and plenty of minor ones according to Kyle Strachan from Bloomfield Bikes, Abernethy. He was carrying out running repairs to entrants bikes before and during the race in order to allow as many riders to complete the race as possible. He also kindly donated some excellent Bloomfield Bikes goody bags as prizes. If you were one of the lucky winners of a Bloomfield Bikes goody bag, how tasty was the flapjack that was tucked in there with all the other goodies?!
Did anyone see the fantastic Muckmedden cake made by Three Wishes Novelty Cakes in Abernethy? It was absolutely stunning, and I never even got a bite of it. Gutted, but we raffled it off along with some other cracking prizes to raise money for CHAS so it was all for a great cause.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped turn Muckmedden into a real event, it couldn’t happen without all the volunteers, so thanks again, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I found it stressful
Also one final big thanks to all the sponsors; (in no particular order)
Gareth Christie Digital Artist – (Muckmedden Logo/T-Shirt design/Flyers/Posters/Business Cards/Banner and Flags design/other stuff).
Hope – (Prizes).
Alpine Bikes – (Prizes).
Haglofs – (Prizes).
Wigwam – (Prizes).
Christine Sinclair – (Prizes)
Forestry Commission Scotland – (Positive attitude towards the event/advice/permission to use Pitmedden).
Comrie Croft – (Prizes).
Atholl Arms Hotel Dunkeld – (Prizes).
Collective Training – (Skills Training).
Progression Bikes – (Skills Training).
Bloomfield Bikes – (Prizes/Bike Repair).
Danscot – (Printing T-Shirts/Flyers/Posters).
Richards Bike Shop, Perth – (Prizes)
Eventfull – (2-Way radios/Gazebos/Bike Racking).
Legends Promotional Products – (Muckmedden banners/Bow flags/fleeces).
Holden Environmental – (Waste disposal facilities).
Katie Brooks – (Website design).
Senses Health and Beauty, Aberargie – (Prizes).
Morrocco Media – (Mucky Video will be released soon, details to follow).
So, I suppose the question is: Would I do it again?
Well, my family are just getting used to seeing my face again rather than the back of my head, so I’ll be enjoying some down time for a while. The trails must also be assessed over the coming weeks, and after that it will be decided whether it’s possible to run the race again next year. But, now that the blood pressure’s back in the safety zone, and I’ve heard the positive feedback, it might be worth doing again to see if we can get some dusty trails next time.
Mind you, where’s the fun in that? It’s not called Muckmedden for nothing!
Here’s a cracking rider’s eye review of Muckmedden written by Keith Leinster from the Middleden Muckers who came 3rd in the Mixed Pairs along with Lyndsay. Many thanks and really glad you both enjoyed it. (Courtesy of Middleden Mountain Club)
You can find PK Perspective’s photos of Muckmedden at:
Howard Ashton Jones has offered to donate a portion of the sale of his Muckmedden photos to CHAS:
Dougie Taylor took around 1000 photos at Muckmedden, they are available to view at the website below:
There are also some great photos taken by Muckmarshal Scot Greig on the Muckmedden Facebook page.
Thanks for coming, and hope to see you next year!!!