The Orange Factory Race Team - 10 @ Kirroughtree

July 15 2010

This summer has been fantastic, sunshine, bikes, and better than anything, perfectly dry trails. So early in the season a hardy team of professional mountain bikers decided to visit a few events, and while they did this, we decided to plan some trips too. First on the list for the Orange riders from the factory is the 10@Kirroughtree, organised by Chloe, Spook and Fraser from No Fuss Events. The format is pretty simple, ride as many laps as you can using whatever strategy you will in the time allotted, for the not-so-bright, ten hours. Sounds simple enough, so without further ado the Orange riders were prepping their bikes and loading the van ready for the drive to Kirroughtree. In an attempt to better my personal lap times, preserve energy and fit through the trees, I decided to swop my bars and opt for an air shock in the pursuit of the win. So far this racing game is a serious business, although the comb-over is purely for comedy purposes…

Bike Preparation from David Flynn on Vimeo.

Trucking up in the van, James and I left the torrid conditions of Halifax and cooled ourselves on the road North.  Stopping at Michael’s (one of the boss type people chaps here at Orange) we had a welcome coffee break and headed to Penrith’s salubrious Morrison’s store. Never before have I seen a supermarket quite like this, a full size store temporarily homed in a gazebo about as sturdy as the Orange awning on a particularly nasty camber. Not deterred by the narrow isles James and I collected all the necessary provisions, jelly babies, fig rolls, an assortment of boiled sweets and exotic beers. Again, a well prepared and thought out shopping list drawn up by the Orange factory team nutritionist…whoever that may be...

Onwards to Kirroughtree, and a long drive through the forest wets the appetite for the pine lined snaking sinews of joy the Scottish like to call trails. Even the hammering rain can’t keep spirits down as we head for the spot of blue sky hanging contemplatively over the visitor centre. As we approach it makes its decision and closes up, but allowing enough time for the shonky erection of the Orange wendy house before the rain returns. With our full factory pits in place, it was time to pull out the bikes and get race preparations on track.

Right on cue Stu Thomson of MTBcut bursts onto the scene, eager to collect a new Crush we nearly forgot on the journey up. In his giddiness he couldn’t decide which size to use. I’m over 6 foot and comfortable on a 19 inch frame, Stu’s slightly taller, so the choice was obvious…17 inch…Stu’s hero background on the DH scene still shows through as he heads off with Colin and Mark on a practise loop, jumping his bike around like a hooligan, talk about keen, you don’t see that in the Orange camp, we're far too professional...

Stu Thomson Orange Crush

Here’s a quick pit cam showing Stu’s preparations and the stream of people coming over to say hello. If you were one of them, hello, and it was great to see so many people taking part and having fun. Hopefully we can have a chat in the sunshine next year.

Kirroughtree Pit Cam from David Flynn on Vimeo.

With dusk comes the inevitable, midges and beer, a combination as famous as Stu Thomson and his “nest”, a comparison made by a drunken legend who amusing confused him for Andy Murray. 

No Fuss events are all about sitting around with friends and having fun, and as night time set in, we were pleased to welcome the rest of the Orange factory team to our little corner of the field. John Chennells is the web man for Orange Mountain Bikes, he’s also responsible for most of the graphics and, along with his Southern accent, most of the work place hilarity. Sim Mainey, the art director and graphics hoodlum of Singletrack Magazine was the final member, Orange staff member he may not be, but as a friend and a power house of adrenalin and skills, well worthy of his place on the team.

Sim Mainey Singletrack Orange Kirroughtree Race Team

As morning rolled on, the Orange squad discussed tactics.

Morning Chitter-Chatter from David Flynn on Vimeo.

As plans were formulated and cheats were duly implemented, Sim and I approached the start line and jostled to the front of the pack. In the confusion and mental exertion of scheming we mistakenly went to the back, doh. A few last minute adjustments and Sim was ready to race, bar to bar we jostled to the front…in a queuing politely manner…

Sim shredding the dirt to the power of Blood from David Flynn on Vimeo.

As Sim and I returned from our first lap to the roars of a spectator (who Sim had clearly paid off), James was ready for the madisonesque change over. In the midst of devastation and race fuelled argey-bargey, they swopped the ankle mounted timing chip quickly and accurately. Time to rock. In the spirit of camaraderie, James decided to leave me behind as his twig legs propelled his 8 stone Orange Five steeded body into the distance, bitter, me, not at all…

James Gunning It

It’s only when you’re on your own and the chat stops you realise it’s actually quite demanding, physically and mentally. The course is approximately ten miles of very mixed terrain. Fireroad undulations intersperse countless sections of fantastic natural and man made trail. When one section stops, you’re soon turning back into the darkness down another slippery root lined chute. The track surprised a few people, but as Alastair Maclennan nicely summarised, it levelled the playing field, the fast boys made time on the climbs, the fat downhill loafers then excelled on the downs. In the words of Sim Mainey, that’s a “definite advantage”, especially on an Orange Blood.

Laps 2-3, powering on... from David Flynn on Vimeo.

As time went on conditions continued to deteriorate and the guys at No Fuss had their work cut out to keep the track safe. Cutting out a couple of sections brought much needed relief from the boggier spots, but as trails got more rutted and roots were exposed, everything got more interesting. With a few pulling out it was time to get serious, we had every chance of taking the win, and my personal challenge of six laps was looking good. After a terrible transition with confusion in the trio, the Orange team realised mid conversation one of them should be riding, on with the fight.

John Chennells Kirroughtree 10 Team Orange

I was starting to struggle, with five laps completed the thought of a sixth was slightly depressing. But that’s where the Orange boys are different, we don’t stand around and let the other fail, we step up to the mark in the face of defeat, and, well, don’t get defeated, hardly victorious, but not defeated, anyway…

Laps 3-6, the team bring it to a close... from David Flynn on Vimeo.

With the race over and Fraser agreeing to clean all our kit, it was time to reflect. The Orange trio had completed six laps, but more importantly they’d pulled together and nursed me around to my personal target. Pleased with six laps, if not for position but satisfaction, I could rest easy stood in the stream washing my face. I may have been destroyed but with the help of my friends, colleagues, and a bit of special Orange loving, we’d all come through stonger. But far from taking the Michael, that’s the spirit of these kind of events. Where did we come? No idea. We were there having a good time with mates, yes, for many it was a serious business (as John found out when he was passed on the right by the “race leader, race leader”), and that’s marvellous for you guys, ten laps is truly inspirational in those conditions, but for us it was perhaps even better. We were the team from the factory, there to have fun - and we did, a personal victory for each of us (the losers always say that, so don’t check our lap times!!).

Stu Thomson Orange Crush Knackered


And if that hasn’t encouraged you to get involved, ride your bike and have a laugh at a No Fuss style event, watch Stu’s video diary. Featuring Orange’s very own Bert and Ernie talking about weather, the track and the infamous ‘race leader’...

Thanks to everyone that made our weekend possible, and those who simply came over to say 'hi'.

Next up, it's the Endurance DH at Fort William, then the one day Tour de Ben Nevis to finish off the season in style.

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