The sixth Hit the North (it’s more like the ninth really, we cocked up the numbering a few years ago) was the first one to be held in the middle of a storm. In the past we’ve had high winds, snow, ice and some sunshine but this time the course was partly submerged and the bits that weren’t submerged were incredibly muddy.
I think many thought that it’d be called off but there was no way I was going to let that happen – I’d had to move the date twice as it was due to poor entries. The first date clashed with the royal wedding, so I assume everyone was cheering on the happy couple. The second date was a December gamble and that yielded about 3 entries. I’d had to refund dozens of entries already, so it had to be third time lucky. Thankfully the March 16th date, over a year after I initially opened the entry, was a big success and entries went mad in the last 2 weeks. A record number of entrants, in fact.
I was glad that people had to pre-enter because I was expecting the weather to put most riders off. The coffee woman jibbed at about 8:30am on the morning of the event so that was a kick in the nuts. No coffee. So serious I included a grovelling apology in my race briefing. There was a loud groan from the assembled throng of 143 riders. The rest of the main ‘arena’ looked sparse too – I’d booked a pair of portable toilets (at least those turned up) but other than that HtN6 was very much the Austerity Edition. Probably just as well given the weather on the day. (If anyone wants to have a stand or any sort of Thing at the next Hit the North, get in touch!).
143 riders! An amazing turnout considering it was hammering down with rain. The course was absolutely filthy and the big downhill was a lottery. The mud was knee-deep in parts though, so while your fallen waterbottle/Garmin/glasses probably sunk forever, you had a softish landing.
We had to close the stream cross that magically went from a small trickle into a super-angry, gushing torrent that was threatening to sweep riders and bikes down the Irwell.
2 hours later and the mens’ winner, Will Lewis, crossed the line. We think it was Will but to be honest it could have been anyone. Screeching to a halt just behind him was local elite racer Chris Lever who’d taken a couple of hours off work in the bike shop to do the race.
Hit the North regular and multiple winner, Ian Taylor won the vets category while Alison Kinloch and Cathy Atkinson won the female vets and seniors respectively.
That was the sharp end of the race, but quite honestly everyone who turned out and raced in those conditions deserved a medal. Most of the DNFs were caused by disintegrated brake pads (and one broken shoulder – get well soon Kai) so there’s probably a lot of unfinished business knocking about.
Full results at www.hitthenorth.net
All photos courtesy of Paul Davy @cycletogs