Racing XC is where it started for me when it comes down to riding single speed.

I grew up racing XC and track (running) and fell out of love with the whole seriousness of it all.

I stopped for a long time after leaving school and became a roadie just for pleasure.

04

I only started racing and more specific, mountain biking again when I entered an enduro – that’s an enduro without the gravity, how it used to be.

After that I got the MTB bug and built up my own bike after getting my first job. Started riding a lot more and after some time, a friend of mine from Germany, Florian, persuaded me to get a single speed. I liked the look of them and the simplicity.

I built a Kinesis decade Virsa Prestige. 34:17 gear, xtr cranks, hope wheels, brakes, 70mm stem, 760mm bar, 2.25 maxxis advantage front and back and loved the ride.

05

I saw a post about a XC race at Hamsterley forest, my local back then.

I didn’t have a car so decided to ride there on the morning before the race. It was only around 5miles or so.

I raced in Sport. Singlespeed. Fully rigid. Ended up coming 5th in category and 8th overall.

06

The fact of racing single speed and rigid took any pressure off me from performing well. Knowing that everyone else was riding with gears and suspension made me relax and enjoy the racing. That’s what got me back into racing and I’ve been doing so single speed and rigid ever since.

Enough waffle…

NUTCRACKER ROUND 5 – ASKE

The course at Aske is one of my favorites. This was my 4th time racing here, and it was to be my 4th podium.

  • SPORT, 2nd
  • SPORT 1st (northern champs)
  • EXPERT 3rd (Northern champs)
  • EXPERT 2nd

To be fair, there was a national series on the same day so not many people turned up. The one’s that did turn up were still fast enough though.

The first two laps were frustrating. I was riding with one of the junior riders who set off at the same time. He was quick on the flat, but lacked any technical ability. Every time we rode through a section of single track, I’d get caught behind with nowhere to pass. As soon as we shot out the other end, he was away and no matter how many RPMs I did I could catch…

01

Thanks to digitalswaledale.com for the photo

Luckily he faded on one of the climbs at the end of lap 2 and I managed to gap him before the single track. I didn’t see him again and I set off trying to catch 1st place.

He was a way off by now and there was no chance. It turned out that the junior rider was making me faster on the flats so my lap times weren’t too much faster anyway.

A 2nd place finish is always nice and it left me feeling ‘fit’.

I’ve also managed to get out on the feet for a quick walk around Pavey Ark, Jack’s Rake etc…

03

Not a bad night for a spot of wild camping testing some new carbon fibre poles from Gipron that I’ll be using for the CCC. They’re a version of the Mont blanc 310 that I used for the lakeland 50 – but in carbon! Bling!!

02

WHAT’S NEXT

Now it’s time to pack for Norway again. Can’t wait. The bouncy bike is showing off a new (old) set of forks, stem, refurbed shock and a new set of tyres. Hopefully there’ll be lots of riding ahead. I’ll remember to put strava on this time.

Check my instagram for updates instagram.com/singlespeedmatt

… and one last thing. Not sure I should make a habit of this.

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