BlackBar settles down for the long sleep….

Well its that time of year we all look forward to. We get to eat, drink and be merry with friends and family. But this year will be BlackBars last mid winter festival. After five great years its time for myself the Brewmonkey to run to the hills and play in the dirt.Thus BlackBar will be going for a long sleep. BlackBar as you know it is closing!

On the up side we still have four brewery shop days before Chirstmas day (Nov 26th, Dec 3rd, 10th and 17th) , Burgess Hall Xmas Fayre. (St Ives 27th November 10-4pm), two great Brewery Tap nights to look forward to. (Friday November 25th and December 23rd)  Those wonderful evenings here at the brewery where people, conversation and good beer rule!

I have about ten firkins of beer to clear and well over two thousand bottles of beer to shift. So please come down help me leave here with as little beer and possible. The breweries last public night will be December 23rd Brewery Tap night and the building closes December 31st. All current orders and events stand. So don’t panic. Any questions please email me here at the brewery (info@blackbar.co.uk) or give me a call on (01223) 872131

This blog will probably be the busiest its even been between now and the final day (December 31st 2016) so for now thank you to all those that have helped, supported and been a friend to BlackBar. With out you it wouldn’t have been so much fun!

So for now this is the Brewmonkey say this is the end nearly………..

 

THANKYOU! The next brewery tap night is August 26th 4-10pm

Well i have to say a big thank you for the support of the Brew Tap Night last Friday evening! Busiest night yet bar the beer festival. Lovely evening, great food from Smokeworks BBQ and a good crowd. Glad everyone enjoyed the British Queen 3.6% session blonde ale. Next month i will have Blacklight back on the bar for those that missed it. There will also be another beer as well as i know several people enjoyed the LBS on the bar. What i’m not sure yet lets see what i can sort.

The next Brewery Tap night will be the 26th of August 4-10pm
Food will be from the excellent Garfield of Reggae Kitchen. (I know i try all the food before they come see me, tough job but some one has to do it!)

Right i have paper work and cleaning to do. See you all soon.

Cheers Brewmonkey

Food for the Brewery Tap nights

Over the past seven months of running the brewery tap nights and BlackBars first beer festival. I have been longing to add to the local street food we have had so far. Thank you to Steak and Honour, Provenance Kitchen, Shelford Deli and Gogo Gogi Gui. All have joined us so far and all have gone down well. So i’m doing as i have been asked and added to the options. So from now till november i have a full run of street food joining us for the monthly brewery tap nights.

Check out the front page of the website for more. I haven’t planned for December or 2017 yet but i have a list of street food that would like to come along and pop up at the brewery. December i would love some music to join us at the brewery so local musicians please get in touch lets add music to food and beer! it will be a one year celebration of the tap nights and would be a good way to get the music rolling too. Other wise right now i have beer to brew , plans to work on and cleaning that as ever is scheduled. I’ll also have a big blog about beer festivals and riding bikes down south.

Till then cheers Brewmonkey

Beer Fest Menus and Beer List

Beer List

Cask Beers

BlackBar Bitter 3.6%  ’standing talking beer’ (currently a little hazy)
Blacklight 4% ‘Triple hopped blonde’
Dovestep 3.6% ‘Hop and Herb’ (unfined, Vegan friendly)
Long Hair BPA 6.2% ‘Well Hopped Ale’ (unfined, Vegan Friendly)
Porteur 4% ‘Old Brown Porter’
LBS 5% ‘Small Beer Stout’

Bottle Beers

Dovestep 3.6% ‘Hop and Herb’
219 4.5% ‘All Day Pale’

Menu Friday Night 4-10pm

Black Bar Beer and Shelford Deli Kebabs

Homemade cumin and garlic flatbread kebabs with either

Spiced lamb, aubergine and pomegranate
or
Sumac, black onion and sesame seed falafel
with
double tahini hummus and minted pea, asparagus and Spring green slaw

extras.    chilli sauce, salted tomatoes and fennel, olive and beetroot tapenade, crushed Marcona almond dukkah and barrel feta yoghurt.
£9.50

Saturday Lunch Menu 11-3

Provenance Kitchen. Will get up shortly i’m struggling with the PDF format

BlackBar and Beer Festivals

Well it’s May and that in Cambridge means beer festival time. But this year there is a difference. BlackBar Brewery WON’T be at the Cambridge Beer Festival on Jesus Green. I would like to explain why. Cambridge CAMRA have supported me from day one. I put my first beers out with them at the 2011 Winter Beerfest at the USC in Mill Lane. Believe me that was one of the happiest points of my life. My beers from My brewery out in the wild! I’ve worked with them promoting the beer festival with HMS BlackBar for a few years. Then in 2014 some thing was pointed out to me. I was at an event and a customer said it was great that my beer was in this and that pub and how good it was. Always grateful for the feed back, positive and negative. That was the positive, the negative was this, “why is your be so bad at Cambridge Beer Festival each year. ” Now that wasn’t good!

When your customers tell you, you have good beer but at one particular venue its bad you have to go looking. So at the 2014 Cambridge beer festival i went looking. For a reason why the beer could have an issue. Now i have had on and off success at Cambridge Summer Beerfestval, beers misbehave and some times they get whole batches of beer that i can’t test in a another venue. Thus i was always putting it down to my beer not being right. Then i looked again, and the main think i looked at was Cellaring! The basis of any good pub is its cellar and the keeping of that room. Especially when it comes to cask ale. 12-14 degrees Celsius, clean and tidy. Simple really. The rest is more cleaning, spilling and taping at known times with the right tools to serve a good pint. The first thing on this list is cooling. Cask beer is a live product that has to be stored, cellared and served at the right temperature. You get it too cold it goes hazy, too warm it wakes back up and goes on fermenting.  This is where i spotted the problem. May in the last few years has been a pretty warm month being the last month in the spring season. I was delivering the beer to cambridge beer festival on the Tuesday before the Monday opening. This beer was then left under canvas with no cooling till Friday some years and Sunday other years. So that 72 – 144hrs that the casks are left in the open. Now i know my casks are black and plastic where as many breweries use stainless steel. The black colour is counter acted by the thermal insulation properties of the plastic making them no worse than a metal cask. Aside,  any beer in any cask in that time will raise in temperature. Thats why we deliver beer in the mornings or evenings away form the noon day sun and from one cellar to another.  Minimising the time the casks are exposed to heat. In the US this is taken even further by having the dray vehicles cooled. Something we in the UK need to start looking at for delivers, some breweries all ready do.

Now after a few days with out cooling the beers are racked up onto the stillage you are all familiar with at Cambridge Beer Festivals. At the summer festival these stillages also carry the cooling system. Now in any pub all the beer is stored cool, cellared cool and stillaged cool. Cool is 12-14 Celsius. At Cambridge the cooling is a little different having had no cooling from delivery the week before the beers are put up on the stillage and arranged in one of to ways. In rows of three firkins front to back or two Kilderkins front to back. Now this is when the cooling is put on. The cooling in this  Festivals case is saddle coolers. These are a metal pipe structure, which looks like a rib cage which is placed on the top side of the cask under a cooling jacket, connected to a liquid to air cooling system. Now remember a cooling jacket doesn’t cool, it only insulates the cask from a change of temperature form out side the jacket. So where you look at all those casks up on the racking, they all have jackets on but only the front cask has a cooling saddle. Yet again a large percentage beer isn’t being kept cool! Now lets look at this again you get into the festival Monday night for the first session, your getting the best beer. Ie stuff that has been left to warm the least. I’d like to say been kept cool the longest but alas that seems the wrong way round.  Then there is the people who can’t get off work till Friday, Saturday. You lovely beer lovers who have worked hard all week get the beer that was delivered the tuesday, week, before. Hasn’t seen  a cooling system since delivery and if your lucky was a cask that was switched the night before and has had 24hrs cooling till it drops bright. Before being released for sale to the public. Hows that for promoting beer in  Cambridge…..

So for the reason that Cambridge CAMRA organisers of the Annual Cambridge Beer Festival on Jesus Green, haven’t improved their cooling systems this or last year. After being asked by me how they are going to improve the system to improve cellaring and cooling for ALL THE BEER at the beer festival. Along with ignoring there own groups guide
lines for cellaring published in this 6th edition of a CAMRA published book
CAMRA Cellarmanship 6th Edition

I have declined to deliver to this the 43rd Cambridge beer festival!

Firstly l’d like to apologise to all those that seek my beer out at the festivals every year. The up side is, after we lost one of our local pubs in Harston at the end of 2015. Having said i wouldn’t open to the brewery as a tap till such a thing happened. I now have the brewery open as a brewery tap the last friday of every month. This friday its the FIRST BLACKBAR BREWERY BEER FESTIVAL!

NB: Not trying to plug my beer festival, thats just a bonus. I’m aiming to get the biggest local beer festival to up their standards so we can all drink better beer! Comments below are open.

Beer Festival 1

 

 

 

 

March, beers and bikes and more.

Well it’s been a good start to the year. Beer has been going out, I have switched to email sales rather than calling pubs. I found that when ever I called a pub I was always speaking to the wrong person or disturbing the team. So I’ve switched to email. Ok I understand its not as personal and that I have to apologise for. But with so many little breweries now and so few pubs, landlords and ladies are getting bored of the phone calls.  So I’ve switched to emails. Means I’ve had to find a lot more pubs to contact and hope that an email is enough to get them noticing the brewery form all the other emails and calls they get.  I hope that BlackBar has been around long  enough now that publicans have at least heard of me.  If your a pub, bar, restaurant or trade member and are interested in getting the weekly email containing Cask and Bottle stock please email info@blackbar.co.uk with your name, company name and details and i’ll send you the sign up email.

The BlackBar Dray

I must say in 2016 I will be doing more marketing. The Dray will get some new signage, the brewery itself will get a lick of paint and hopefully a bit of a tart up. If you haven’t been since Novemeber 2015 I would say come and have a look as the bar and wood stove have been a great treat for the guests over the colder months. This is a good point to say the next Brewery Tap night is Friday 25th March 4-9pm. Yes I know that is Good Friday. But having been in the food and drinks trade for so long bank holidays and such have long been a different colour on the calendar and yet not a day off.  I chose the last Friday of the month as it fitted no other reason. So I look forward to seeing people for hopefully the first of the spring Brewery Tap nights. Watch Twitter and FaceBook next week for the cask beer that will be up. Along side a good range of bottle beers.
What else have I been up too. In the Aikido side I have been running a club now for 6 months. Have a look at the Camb Shodokan Aikido page to find out more.  Two students have already gained their red belts. With a third grading in the next few weeks. I’ll put up some photos in the next few weeks. Most likely post grading. Hopefully be taking the students off to train with other clubs in the next month. Always nice to go see other clubs.

 

On the bike front it seems to be 4X season. I haven’t raced national 4X since 2014. Yet when the national series returns, after a 5/6 year hiatus, its time to race the local track as much as you can.  Chicksands bike park has been a local, ok Bedfordhsire, riding spot for me for the last ten years. Even more since I started racing back in 2012. Chicksands for the last few years has been running a winter race series on the 4X track. After so many successful winter races under its belt there was a call for the venue to return to as a national 4X series venue. So it was great when it was announced that  it was first on the list for 2016. So with this the locals track gremlins go on with a good over haul of the track. I have to say they did an amazing job. The improvments where amazing making racing even closer than I thought possible. Just look at the photo below for proof the track was great for close racing.

Credit Martin Brown photography

Chicksands put on a winter 4X race two weeks before the national round. Which was a well attended event as ever.  Riders will come from all over to race.After such a fun weekend it was a great to see even more people at chicksands for the national round.

Chicksands Round1 2016

A full days racing was ahead. This was the first time I showed up to a 4X venue on the day of racing. As usually we have to drive across the country to get to the venue.  Though as ever the masters catergory was a unknown sum.  To make a long story short it was an AMAZING days racing. Having only had 7 people racing the masters category, due to many going up to VETS, it meant for small close races.  Overall I can say well done to the Two Davids and thanks to Chris and Shane for some very very close racing and finally to John and Bag man for causing as much hassle as possible.  This was going to be the only 4X race I did this year. Alas after having enjoyed such close racing and good camaraderie from the lovely 4X family across the day I have to say I am looking for an excuse to race 4X again in 2016!

The days full results are below along with some links to some of the other race reports on the first round of the 2106 national 4X series at Chicksands Bike Park.

Here is a course preview from the Hudson Brothers http://www.pinkbike.com/news/schwalbe-british-4x-round-1-course-preview.html 

Below are two write ups from Round 1 National 4X
http://www.pinkbike.com/news/british-4x-series-round-one-a-snapshot-2016.htm
http://www.pinkbike.com/news/2016-british-4x-series-round-1-chicksands-2016.html

Full results:
Big Fun 17+ (11 Riders)

PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
312 Ben TRIPP 1st
307 Ali DUNN 2nd
311 James DALLEYWATER 3rd
314 Connor O’BRIEN 4th
336 Ivan THATCHER 1st-B
305 Martyn NICHOLAS 2nd-B
373 Joshua BROWN 3rd-B
334 George WATSON
205 Jon LLOYD
306 James FERRAND
213 Pete CARVELL

Rippers (10-12) (9 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
242 Tyler PARTRIDGE 1st
300 George MADLEY 2nd
268 Adam BARRASS 3rd
211 Luke MADLEY 4th
240 Louie PARTRIDGE 1st-B
269 Callum GREENWOOD 2nd-B
326 Jack SKINNER 3rd-B
316 Alfie WHITE 4th-B
313 Chad LLOYD

Juvenile 13-14 (5 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
204 Will MILLS 1st
308 Rhys MAHON 2nd
210 Ruben MASI 3rd
301 Matthew PECK 4th
333 Joe COOPER

Youth 15-16 (11 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
222 Declan WILLICOMBE 1st
360 Tom BELL 2nd
400 Oscar POWELL 3rd
299 Ted DALLEYWATER 4th
255 Leon BRADLEY
Dame Cycling QuidneIT
1st-B
212 Callum RHEAD 2nd-B
309 DBS Alex PIPER 3rd-B
202 Gregory TRAVIS 4th-B
249 Alex GRAY
365 Ben MARTINDALE
203 Charlie PAGE

Junior 17-18 (7 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
194 Kyryll BURKYNSKYY 1st
98 Stuart BURROWS 2nd
27 Finn CHAPMAN 3rd
101 Charlie CURRIE 4th
96 Kieran ABBOTT 1st-B
288 Ryan BYRNE 2nd-B
165 Matthew GRIFFIN 3rd-B

Master 30-39 (7 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
201 David SIBLEY 1st
33 Dave JAQUIN 2nd
209 Joseph KENNEDY 3rd
315 Shane KLUCKLOW 4th
321 Chris KELLETT 1st-B
250 Andrew CALLAND 2nd-B
220 Richard DOBSON 3rd-B

BlackBar in 3rd. Credit Martin Brown photography

 Veteran 40+ (14 Riders)

 
PLATE GROUP NAME PLACE
264 Jason JESSOP 1st
276 Dominic BENT 2nd
398 Phillip GRAY 3rd
338 Roger WILBRAHAM 4th
377 Neil HARBOUR 1st-B
322 Michael DEWSNAP 2nd-B
207 Birmingham BMX Club Paul SODEN 3rd-B
304 Anthony FISHER 4th-B
303 Simon TURNER
369 Cheyne GREENWOOD
1V Ben RAFFERTY
274 Jonathan WALTERS
399 Manchester BMX Club Adam HILL
374 John LORD

Senior 18-29 (14 Riders)

 
21 Tom BURCH 1st
198 Alistar KEEN 2nd
99 Matthew WILSON 3rd
20 John LONSDALE 4th
100 Joshua DILLON 1st-B
12 Euan SPEIRITS 2nd-B
39 Ben JONES 3rd-B
68 Mop HEAD 4th-B
34 Joshua HARRIS
38 Chris BECKETT
Leisure Lakes Bikes
199 Marti PEARCE
127 Martin PRITCHARD
25 Andrew COOPER
55 Mike HAYWARD

Women (10 Riders)

 
2 Natasha BRADLEY (Fs) 1st
4 Megan WHERRY 2nd
5 Hannah ESCOTT (Fs) 3rd
332 Ellie DEWDNEY (Fs) 4th
350 Kelli SALONE (Fm) 1st-B
6 Mabel MUNDY (Fjr) 2nd-B
10 Marcia ELLIS (Fm) 3rd-B
302 Claire CALLAND (Fm) 4th-B
310 Cheryl DEERY (Fm)
206 Amanda TANFIELD (Fm)

 

Pro Elite (14 Riders)

 
70 44Racing Rockstar Connor HUDSON 1st
67 Richard SWALES 2nd
2 Nathan PARSONS 3rd
47 Aaron DALLEYWATER 4th
1 Duncan FERRIS 1st-B
40 Damian GROVES 2nd-B
44 44Racing Rockstar Jack HUDSON 3rd-B
22 Dave ROBERTS 4th-B
7 Matthew SILLS
52 Joe WALLBRIDGE
69 James WHITBY
65 Lee GREEN
18 Daniel WAGSTAFF
26 Alex METCALFE

Thanks to the 4X family for a great day! have a great 2016 and hopefully i rock up for some more racing later in 2016.

Right so what else do I have coming up in 2016.

This Sunday I’m off to the Cambridge Triathlon Clubs Bridalway basher for a quick spin on the single speed with the lovely staff of Townsend LightBlue. Should be a nice day for riding bikes. (Ok any day is a good day to ride a bike)

 

25th is the next Brewery Tap night 4-9pm Friday night.

26th is both a brewery shop 10-2 and then on to Ongar railway Station for Arts and Music Festival brought to you by Amped up. This is a new event for me, so I’m looking forward to what will be a great little arts and music festival. Have to say thanks to Eagle Rose guitars for putting me up for this event. Can’t go wrong with a little live music!

 Must also mention one of the best little brews I did recently.  I have been supplying the Public House (Habitorials) in Trumpington for the last six months. I supply beer to the pop up pub they have once a month in the new Great Kneighton Development. Last Friday some of you may have seen that on the last pop up pub night run by habitorials I did a local brew. I took along my smallest brew kit. Some malt and prepared to brew a local beer. Ie I had asked the locals from the pop up pub to bring along the herbs, fruit, honey and what ever else they could think of to hop the beer with. I was highly rewarded with David one of the local beer keepers bringing me some Ivy Honey from his hives. This is the honey made from the flowers of the ivy plant.  It has an amasing aroma and I’ve been loving having to release the pressure on the fermentation vessels over the last week. Looking forward to serving this fine beer up at the next pop up pub in Trumpington.  Watch the tweeter and facebook feed for a release date and time.

 

Ok I think for now that’s it. Roll on March………

Cheers Brewmonkey

2016 open dates and brewery tap nights

Welcome to 2016 beer lovers,

2015 was a good year, loads done here in the brewery. Firstly it has been a full year with our own bottling equipment. This has meant we have a stock of bottles at all times. The bottles will continue in 2016. With Dovestep leading the charge as my permeant bottle. Though after the feed back from Theory 219, I hope to make this beer permeant in bottle as well fro 2016. I’ll also be returning with some beers though out the year so look forward to some of your past bottled favourites.  Of course I have a list of new brews I’d like to show case in bottle in 2016 as well. Though please forgive me for a slow start to the year. Trying to get the place in shape for the open days and the forth coming brewery tap nights.

For all of 2015 I have had the brewery open on a Saturday 10-2. Which seems to have caught on. People, customers, enthusiast, what ever you prefer to be called, are able to come to the brewery to buy local beer direct from the source and find out more about who, how and why BlackBar makes the beers it does. Some people have even stayed for the whole time enjoyed the sunshine and chilled in the yard. I hope to make more of this in 2016. With a few Saturdays being ear marked for little events, be it music, food or some madcap idea.

Guests enjoying a beer in the sun.

Sun, beer, brewery

The bigger news of course is that with a little help from my mate Olli from Eagle Rose Guitars (yes thats a plug) I have completed, ok nearly completed, the bar here at BlackBar. Which means its time to open up the brewery on the last friday of every month to the public as a brewery tap. Ok some people won’t know the term brewery tap. Basicly it means you can come to the brewery and its a public house aka pub. Each month i’ll have a beer on draft. Which i’ll tell you the week or so before. I will also be endeavouring to have some nights with music and some of the local food trucks. Which should mean each month there is a reason, beyond just drinking beer and talking with people, if of course you need a better reason. To come down and enjoy the BlackBar brewery tap.

The dates are as follows:
January 29th, February 26th, March 25th, April 29th, May 27th, June 24th, July 29th, August 26th, September 30th, October 28th, November 25th and the last Friday before christmas December 23rd.
Friday evening 4-10pm, draft and bottle beers.
Cash only. (till further notice, i’m looking into the technology)

Other wise I’ll still be riding around on my bicycles. I’ve already got the first even of 2016 done with. I haven’t been that wet riding a bike in a while. Though i didn’t care as it was an amazing venue in the middle of Wales and the trails had me pushing up them with amused grins or hauling down them as fast as my bike could handle in such rain. I’ve not really got any plans for the riding this year other than getting out more and having as much fun as possible on my bike. So look out for the BlackBar Jersey and say hi. Chat and beer always welcome.

BlackBar on 4X

Brewmonkey on a bike

 

Camb Shodokan Aikido is a new venture for me. I started the dojo only back in September 2015. I have a few dedicated students and with the  Aikido World Champions coming to the UK in 2017. I’m looking forward to a busy couple of years training and planning ahead of the big event.  If you want to know more have a look on the webpage here.

Right I better get the website up to date. So thank you all for a great 2015. Heres to an even better 2016!

Cheers Brewmonkey

 

SSUK15 and other madness

I always seem to start these blogs with either ‘ wow its been a long time’ or ‘well…..’ so for once i won’t. The last post was pre the Permaculture party i went to in near by Trumpington. I have to say even though the rain stayed only for my ride from the brewery to the venue. It was a great afternoon and evening spent listening to the brilliant Formidable Vegetable Soundsystem, eating great vegetarian dishes and learning a lot ahead of hopefully getting my first allotment. Yes it will be done with permacultutere thinking and i’m hoping that zero waste idea can be brought to the brewery as well. Though that is going to take a little more thinking and some new ideas. Now on another note, lets go talk bicycles.

My Single Speed Mountian Bicycle

Many of you that have visited the brewery will know i have a passion for cycling. One i would call a vice rather than a hobby. Shiney, expensive parts and places to ride all over the planet. On the first weekend in September i headed up to Duncombe Park in the fair county of Yorskshire to part take in a race i have heard of for over a decade but never made it to. The Single Speed UK champs aka SSUK. This is where like minded mountain bike riders give up the expensive (well most of us do) bikes and ride up and down hills on a single speed bicycle for fun! I have been riding single speed since uni and have never really given it up. There is some thing about a single speed that makes no sense to most or me at times. yet go out for a ride on a single speed bicycle and the world seems to make sense.

t'Gaffa aka Wayne

Let me proceed this by saying that this was a race i wasn’t going to go to until i bumped in to Ellis and Wayne at Mountian Mayhem 24hr race as part of team MTFU. Ellis works with in the industry as does Wayne, though Wayne is also the SSUK15 organiser, after to many laps of a good course, riding and drinking just enough and talking gibberish at what ever time it was, these two convinced me to sign up to SSUK15 while sitting around during this 24hr marathon race. Don’t you just love mobile web access! At silly o’clock at night in the middle of a field somewhere near Bristol……..

Well i had signed up and it was time to go ride my first single speed event. I worked the morning in the brewery, or should i say tried too. I was very excited to get on the road and up to Yorkshire. I finally gave in about noon heading first to the M11 then on to the A14 and A1. Of course it was straight onto the motorway and in to standstill traffic. My plan of an easy friday lunchtime drive of 3.5 hrs ended up being closer to 5hrs. With poor traffic, no reason for it and my love of caravans growing by the mile.

It was with great happiness i pulled into the grounds of Duncombe Park. Though after driving for that long the driveway up to the site seemed to go on for ever. Though once i arrived at the site to be greeted with a happy northern hello and the words ‘Bars open’ the drive faded from my memory. After parking the dray is a sensible place i headed off to find the sign up tent. On route i passed the ever good banter filled camp of Charlie ‘bike monger’ Hobbs and his cohorts. I knew the weekends quality was going up. Walking to registration i could see the support tents of Fibrax, Travers, EDS bikes, a food van, wood fired pizza and what looked like the equipment to run a hog roast. Finding the registration tent along side the bar and band tent i knew all was well. On signing up i grabbed my bag of goodies and headed back to set up the tent. But before i did thought best grab a beer. The nights drinking had started. I was soon joined by the members of camp bike monger and joined their camping area before it grew dark.

MINI BIKES!

As darkness fell it was time for the racing to begin. It was MINI BIKE RACING time. I had seen many mini races before on videos posted form mates races and gathering across the MTB world. So after having read the rules on the SSUK15 FB page i had picked up a lovely little blue 16″ wheeled mini bike ready for the racing. We all signed up, i believe 30 of more of us ranging  from 9 to 50 plus years old. I was listed later on the board so as the ‘organisers’, i use that term loosely, called names the carnage raged on. As people lined up in front of the main tent, raced around the short, less than 100m track around the event village and finish with some style over the mini kickers set up in the middle of the event village. My name was called and i lined up on my little blue bike. I shot off the line over the pallet drops and around the back of the main tent, buzzed passed the Fibrax tipi and on to the final corner, i was hauling, hitting both jumps on the last straight i finished is a brilliant 22ish seconds, which was well ahead of the field. I was happy so went back to my drinking and chatting. Once all the racers had finished the ‘organisers’ called my name again. It wasn’t good, my 16″ wheeled, braked and lovely mini bike was deemed illegal. I was disqualified due said bike. There was an up side i could re run my lap on the bike from the pile. The ‘organisers’ had picked one. A lovely pink, 12″ wheeled, brakeless, childerns fixed wheel. I have ridden fixed twice in my life. Both times sober and both times it was scary and those bikes fitted. Well to say crouched over that tiny bike looking into the darkness behind the first tent was scary was an understatement. Was i going to make the first pallet drop? Well i did, dutch courage i believe, i made it all the way around the track until i aimed and set up for the first jump. I must have stopped pedalling, there was a bang and the bike wobbled over the first kicker into the second and into the beer tent. I’d finished i was alive and it was now time for more beer. The ‘organiser’ now said they would plan the next round. I believe they drank beer looked at times and came up with a plan. names where called agin and the fast riders where called forward. The main thing i noticed where the old where getting beaten by the kids. As so it was with me in my quarter finals heat. I lined up against two kids and another gent. Off the line i was beat by a 9year old who went on to take second over all. What can i say i was beaten and the bar was calling. Mini bike racing what a brilliantly stupid idea for a friday nights social before the main race day!

Hobos in ponchos

Friday nights social and drinking went into the small hours and the was talk that Markus, who is mad enough to be cycling around the world on a single speed, was near by on the first leg of his route. Alas i didn’t wait up for the nutter to arrive, the drive had been long as had the chat, beer and week. So at the end of the witching hour is was back to my tent to crash out.

The next morning after the best nights sleep i’d had in a tent in years. Mainly due to my first time using a inflatable camping mattres. I got up and wondered over to the centre of our camp to find the ‘bike monger’ team sorting breakfast, coffee and bacon. The coffee was well received as was a croissant. Thanks!

Ellis leaving the big house and a Yellow Jacket helping another rider.....

After breakfast which was a little later than planned, the news that racing was soon and the fact the bikes had to be down at the bike house by 10:00am reached us. It was written in the race participation notes. But i hadn’t read them at the time. So it was time to kit up and drop the bikes down the hill to the big house. Ok it was the front of the main house here at Duncombe Park. Think nice stately home with manicured grass and a rabble of single speeders floating about not quite sure whats going on. Herded by SSUK15 team in yellow jackets. So the bikes where left in the capable hands of the yellow jackets. who where handicapping anyone with gears. With the liberal use of gaffe tape. As i left one yellow jacket said don’t worry we like Surlys. I smiled but felt wary of a person drinking beer from a can and carrying a roll of gaffe tape at 10 in the morning. The trace was started with a nice run from the top on the hill, through the event village, down the hill to the big house and their racers would find there bikes. Most likely not where they put them in true SS racing tradition. I arrived early in the filed as i was enjoying the run down the hill. Looking for a black 29 steel single speed was usually easy, but not at SSUK. I looked wondered over to a few similar bikes and evetulaty found my steed by the main gate i’d come through. The beer and gaffe tape carrying hello jacket and this point looked at me and said again ‘ we like surlys’ this time with and amused grin, my sense of humour kidded in and i jumped on my bike laughing at the madness of this start.

Silly face riding over fun stuff

 

As i had arrived later than i planned i didn’t ride the track the night before or in the morning. Why, i was going to be riding it for the next 8hrs if i completed both the races i had signed up for. So off i went on my first lap of the track as the main 2hr Single Speed Championship race. This was to be followed by a further 6hour enduro of the same track, for those that fancied it. More on that later.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN RUN OUT OF BEER!

The track left the house, crossed the main drive and climbed the grassy hill up to the event village where we had started. Going through the main tent, over the pallet drops and around the back we headed back towards the main drive. This time turning left into the woods behind the event village. To say this track was brilliant is wrong. this is the best track i have ridden in years. Sharp tight descents, on loam and off camber, long dragging convex climbs, jumps, drops, edges, pallet features and more. This track was enough to keep the good riders amused, scary the lesser and keep idiots like me laughing all the way around. Ok so i didn’t climb every climb every lap. But i did stop at the beer stop every lap. At this point i have to put in a complaint to the management. When a man with a magnicfent ginger bread and flap cap, stands in the grounds of a stately home in Yorkshire and says there is a beer stop and we have plenty of beer, we won’t run out. I believe him. On my final lap of the SSUK15 champs event i was looking forward to the mid track beer stop at the end of the big climb before the best decent of the track. Alas when i arrived at said beer stop. They had RUN OUT of beer!As you can see i wasn’t amused. I hauled on down the best decent of the track and wiggle along a flawy loose hill line dropping into a steep loose descent and then cutting back on itself so you would watch with great amusement the faces of your fellow riders.

The Single Speed UK 2015 champs was only 2hrs long. Get in as many laps as you could in that time plus one more. The winner is the person with the most laps. I got four laps in during the allotted time. I have to say it was good fun but a little hard work. As i hadn’t been riding as much as i should of in the summer. But thats my excuse and i’m sticking with it. The winners in both the ladies and gents where first. So fast i didn’t see them all day. Or maybe they where the blurs that shot past when i wasn’t looking.

So after a good night of beer, sleeping in a tent and then racing a bike with one gear around a tuff track for 2 hrs, what do you do for the rest of the day. Well in true SSUK style most people started to have a lazy afternoon and drink some more, socialise and have a good laugh. Though there was the small matter of a 6 hour enduro on the same track which a large (70) of use had signed up for. Well at about 1:30-2pm on this fine saturday afternoon. I hauled my now rather beaten body to the start line and laid down! There where 17 of us on the start line for the 6 hours enduro. There where no beer stops and the racing was going to get serious. (well some of the entrance where lined up in lycra and looking as if they had just warmed up!) So the next six hours went on as the previous two had. Lapping a brilliant course in great weather, good riders and plenty of laughs. I’ll be honest i was a little broken at this point. Running a rigid bike over some silly terrain with 45-50psi in the tyres had killed my wrist. So i only completed 4 laps in the next 6 hours. Take time out to chat, eat, sit around being a hobo and generally enjoying the day. I have to say when single speeding, single speed. I mean, chill enjoy and enjoy the free and finer things in life!

The laps had gone very well and i was enjoying them still even after my 7th lap. Upon finishing my 7th lap i came across the line with Sophie of Godivas MTB. A lady wo i had meet around the mtb circuit and who knew my Wench. So as i head in, she was heading out for a last lap i asked if i could join her, Sophie said yes and we where off for a final loop. Sophie was the only female doing the 6 hour enduro and it was a great pleasure to do a lap with Sophie. I was in no two minds i knew this lap was going to be hard. Sophie didn’t stop only walk a very steep section on the big climb. That i must say was a massive relief. And over all was an amazing rider all around the track. A treat to ride with some one i had spoken to many times, yet had yet to ride with. Thank you Sophie.

A happy Sophie on the trails

 

After a long day of riding a silly bike around a silly track it was time for dinner. Thank you toe the hog roast team very much appreciated! So with hog roast on hand and a couple of bottles of dove step in the other it was prize giving time!
There where prizes for fancy dress, fasted male and female in SSUK15 first to third, along with top three in the enduro as well. There was also a bread category. I knew this being SSUK was a tough challenge. But being bearded it was nice to enter. It was event better to win!

Ok so i really came third. With Wayne SSUK15 organiser being a beardy and the fasts man of the day also being bearded i was third. Which is such good company i was very happy with.
the atmosphere of support and fun was brilliant, raffle money went to the local air ambulance, which all outdoor types would give generously to if you’ve ever needed them or known any one that does. The commariday was brilliant the money raised great. We ride bikes and are people. Therefore we support epoeple and continue to ride bikes. I hope the winner of the Travers frame was happy with their win, always nice to get a shiny frame.

After a great bit of chat while listening to the Atomic ray gun it was an early night for all. The next morning i was up with the light and one of the first to the village for breakfast. Where yet again i got to sit down and chat with Markus about his journey around the world on a single speed. You can find out more about Markus and his journey here. After a good bacon sandwich and a coffee it was time to pack up and head back south. After a brilliant weekend and a drive home. I must say i will be at the next SSUK event and hopefully some of the European versions and maybe even a WorldSSC in the future.
Big thank you to all at SSUK15 a great event and a reminder that bikes are amazing and you don’t need the latest thing to smile with a bike.

Markus joining in before continuing his LONG ride home

Can i say thank you to Fibrax, Halo and Surly for helping me get my bike back and running for this event. I couldn’t have done it with out your help. All of the photos are from Walkies with Woodall so big thanks there as well. Also thanks to Wench for letting me out and reminding me why riding bikes is so much fun!

Cheers Brewmonkey

Flying Brewmonkey. Now go ride your bike, a least to the pub!