Up The Buttress
September 09 2013
400 yards of cobbles, a one in four gradient and a cow-bell-waving, beer drinking mob looking to equally encourage and heckle those who decide to race up it and a stop-clock. This is Up The Buttress.
Hebden Bridge, a small town nestled in the bottom of the South Pennines has a reputation for being a bit different. Up the Buttress is an event very much in-keeping with that (for lack of a better word) ethos. Now in its third year it's a pretty straightforward race; get to the top of the cobbled climb in the quickest time possible. What is less straightforward is actually conquering the climb. It's steep enough and long enough that those with sprinters legs will lose power three quarters of the way up and those with slow-burn endurance will need to work harder than normal to get a decent finishing time. A fine balance of speed and stamina is needed. All the while the cobbles that cover 'The Buttress' do their best to rob any momnentum you may achieve and if they're wet, well, you better be packing sticky rubber.
As well as working out your race strategy you'll need to consider bike choice. Obviously being a fun race anything goes as long as it's roadworthy, witnessed by the use of everything from road bikes, bike polo bikes, 160mm mountain bikes, utility bikes carrying coal sacks and hybrids. Eclectic only comes close. Those who were taking things a bit more seriously than others had tales to tell of tyre tread and pressure choices, suspension forks with minimal pressures to drop the front end and other tweaks all designed to eek out the most traction on the potentially slippy cobbles whilst keeping speeds high. Those who were taking things less seriously just tried to steel their stomachs for the vomit-inducing climb.
Team Orange was represented by our resident race addict Vaughan. After much deliberation over which bike to bring to the fight Vaughan decided to run his Alpine 160. Vaughan reckoned he could increase shock pressure to aid climbing but still get some traction from the suspension while running a fast rolling trye on the rear. By the top Vaughan was less interested in bike setup and more interested in a cold drink and something sugary so he could see straight… His efforts got him 12th on the day, so the effort was worthwhile.
Having watched the race we'd say the best bike for tackling the cobbles would be a Clockwork. Hope factory rider Jack Clarkson took five minutes (well, one minute fifty two seconds) out from the day job wrenching at Blazing Saddles to set a time that would bag him second place overall riding a Clockwork S. Anna Leatherbarrow won the female category aboard her Clockwork, and almost made it look easy. For those not lucky enough to have a Clockwork to race on we gave one away in the rider's raffle at the awards ceremony; you didn't need to be a winner to win. We're expecting to see a field full of Clockworks next year.
It's great to see small community based events like this growing in popularity. The fact that it's a bit daft and treated in the spirit that it's intended is to be celebrated. Riding bikes is a laugh, and in the scheme of things, all a bit silly. Let's keep it that way.
More photos, along with the results, can be found over at singletrackworld.com