Things don’t go to plan at Burf’s first race of the year, but the signs were there from the start…

Burf's 2017 Ranger Prototype Bike at BikePark Wales 50 Shades of Black

I have decided, now that I have a new Ranger and BTR has a company car, that I am going to do a bit more racing this year. I’ve been away from the scene for a few years now, mainly because of the lack of time and money created by starting up a company from scratch, but also because I’m unfit and lazy.

BTR Ranger Burf Edition at MiniDuro BikePark Wales
Number board on and ready for a thrashing

So, the first race was to be on Saturday February 4th. Or so I thought… The week leading up to the race I made sure I was good and ready. I packed the tool box, got all my kit sorted, bed in the back of the car, bang tidy. It comes to leaving on Friday night, the car is fully loaded and I’m excited to get some camping and bike riding in with mates. That’s when a message pops up in the group chat, “Where we riding tomorrow lads?”. I started typing out “We are racing tomorrow, numb nuts!” when a shadow of doubt crept into my mind. What was the date for the race again?  Oh my god what an idiot, Saturday March 4th… Like the title says, the signs were there…

When building my bike up for the first time I found out the dropper was faulty and needed returning for warranty. Unfortunately I had a few rides and photo ops planned for the bike and so was not able to do it straight away. On one of these planned rides I stacked it and damaged my helmet by ploughing my head into a tree stump. So before the race I needed to replace my lid and get my dropper sorted. Shouldn’t be too much hassle…

Preparation for the second attempt at attending the same race did not go as well as the month before. It turned out to be just two weeks before the race that I managed to get things in motion for the dropper return. More than enough time really, if I had managed to send it to the correct address. I sent it back to Zyro/Fisher, but instead it was meant for Sram Tech Centre. The address was there at the bottom of the warranty claim form on the website, but I just didn’t notice and went looking for the Zyro address. The cogs turned slowly and the Tech Centre didn’t receive my dropper from Zyro until the Thursday before the race, clearly not enough time to get it repaired and sent back. What followed was stressful. Trying to find a replacement at this late hour wasn’t easy, but eventually one was found. On top of all this I still hadn’t done anything about sourcing a replacement for my crashed helmet. I was thinking I would just race in it anyway, but thought about the way my luck was going and decided I was bound to have my lid checked, and refused entry. Luck turned in my favour though, John at Oneal and Joe at Moore & Large pulled out all the stops and had a beautiful Oneal Defender in the post for next day delivery. Boom! These two things were now sorted, but nothing else. What followed was a mad rush to get everything packed for departure, hopefully before midnight…

Stage Map

Last month a campsite was arranged, but this month it was fully booked, so the crew and I decided on some wild camping. I knew of a spot near a caving hut, in a quarry, that I thought would be pretty sweet. I had been there and stayed in the hut before, so knew the place to be fairly out the way and quiet. Not this night though. Turning up in the car park it was clear something was going on, it was ram-o and a marquee was going up. I just assumed there was a big cave session going on the next day and payed no attention. Until 12pm when the rave kicked off. Crossed my mind to knock a few back and join in, but I figured racing would be more fun. Not that staying in my sleeping bag resulted in any more sleep though…

Race Day: Like I said, the signs were there… We were up were up early (basically because we didn’t sleep) so we could nab a good spot in the car park and take our time getting sorted. The sun was even poking its head out from behind the dark grey clouds now and then. The day was to consist of 3 stages, two reds and one black. The black finished half way down the hill so we decided to do this for first practice. This meant we didn’t have to ride all the way back up the hill for our second run. We decided after the second run we would stop for lunch and wait till race runs. Good plan I reckon!

30 seconds into the first practice run I clipped what I thought was a rock (was actually a stump, thanks GoPro. Watch the video at the bottom). Nothing major, but decided to stop and have a look at the section. Nothing too gnarly was discovered and so I hopped back on the bike and started off down the hill again, only to discover my pedal felt like it was bent. Upon inspection I figured it was probably not the pedal that was bent but that the threads in the crank had been stripped. The pedal was still tight so I cracked on with practice and would have a look see at lunch. I tried to remove the pedal but knew instantly by how tight it was that by removing it my day would be over. I headed over to the bike shop but they did not have a non drive side crank on its own to replace mine, so no luck was had there. The only thing to do was ride it how it was and hope for the best.

The hole where my threads used to be

By the time I got to the top of stage one the pedal had come slightly loose, so tightened it with my fingers and gave it hell for leather once the beeps stopped. At the bottom of the stage I knew for certain the pedal was going to fall out before the end of the day. Managed a pretty good time though, putting me 4.5s up on second place. Pedaling to the top of stage two I could feel the pedal working itself loose, getting worse and worse the closer to the top I got. By the time I arrived at the start I could plug the pedal in and out of the crank, my day was done. I elected to go down at the back of the pack and just roll down hoping my pedal didn’t fall out half way down resulting in me smashing my dodgy ankle into the dirt. Luckily I got down without incident, and my time wasn’t too shabby either, leaving me in 3rd place on stage two. I wasn’t best pleased, but the signs were there from the beginning…

Here is my video recap. Not allowed body/head mounted cameras during race runs, so all riding footage is from practice. Check the results on RootsandRain 

Till next time, Keep ‘er Sideways


That’s one hell of a dirty bike!


Leave a comment