Kona Bristol Bikefest preview



By this time of year, a thin layer of red dust has gathered in the creases of my bike shoes and my mountain bikes never spend more than a day or so in the garage before they are brought out to play on the local trails. It is the start of summer time and, although still a little chilly, the trails are dry, hard packed and fast. The red slime of Ashton Court has transformed into a network of gorgeous trails with roots, rocks and drops to compete with any trail centre the country has to offer. It is summer time and summer in Bristol means Bristol Bike Fest.


Bristol Bike Fest compilation


It is less than a month to go now until the 2010 Bristol Bike Fest, organised yet again by Paul Newman from Zero-G and sponsored by Kona. The formula this year remains the same – tried, tested and loved. A twelve hour event on the Saturday for solos, pairs or teams is followed by its six hour baby brother on the Sunday. Take your pick, do both days, or just come and soak up the atmosphere and heckle the sweaty riders as they fly down the meadow, through the pits and plunge back into the singletrack for Just One More Lap.


Bristol Bike Fest was my first ever bike race, back in 2006. I borrowed my friend’s Merida full suss and rode for twelve hours solo. It was the most painful and exhilarating thing I had ever done. The next year I signed up again and I’ve been back every year since in one form or another. This year I am racing mixed pairs on the Saturday and solo-ing the Sunday. I just can't get enough. I love the high energy of the Saturday and the bleary eyes of the campers on Sunday after too much barbeque food and cider.



So what makes Bristol Bike Fest so special? There are four essential ingredients to BBF which make it what it is; a high energy celebration of mountain biking and mountain bikers. The first ingredient is the daylight. Many UK 12 hour enduros are at night, which creates a lot of atmosphere for the riders, but heckling opportunities are limited. The daylight hours of Bristol (9 til 9) mean that hundreds of people come and watch. That links nicely to special ingredient number two; Bristol City. For anyone who lives in Bristol, like me, you will know it is the greatest city in Britain (ahem). For those not so familiar with it, I should explain that Ashton Court is only a stone’s throw from the centre and a popular weekend destination for walkers, joggers and picnickers. So the crowds flock to Bikefest, making the atmosphere fantastic all round the course. Thirdly, Bristol’s trails are superb. They may not survive winter that well but right now, mid May, they are hard packed, fast flowing, technical and superb fun. Finally, the weather at BBF is always hot. Last year saw a bit of sticky mud but I have been promised that was a one-time blip in the organiser’s ongoing pact with the Weather Gods.


If ‘racing’ isn’t your thing, then Bikefest will be. Just come and ride it. Find a few friends, enter with a ridiculous team name which only you will understand and create your own legend. The course will keep you smiling – 90% singletrack, two bomb holes, berms, corners and roots to keep you on your toes and an endless supply of cheering from the marshals. If you do like racing, oil up those shaven, fake-tanned legs, pull up those long white socks and thrash around the course as fast as you can against some of the country’s top racers. And if the cider and heckling is more your thing, then join the hundreds of others who just enjoy the spectacle of our mad and beautiful sport.


Word by Fiona Spotswood.




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