A change is as good as a rest – British XC Race Series Demo Day – Wasing Park, Near Reading
We arrived with no particular expectations in a country field recently departed by a large number of cows and trod very careful over to the centre of activity when a smile that was to last all day started to develop.
Scouring the race track arena we couldn't miss Specialized, Giant, Trek, Santa Cruz to name but a few. Rubbing our hands (partly with glee and partly with cold) we headed over to chat to the Spesh guys - Epics, Stumpjumpers, Safires, Enduros were in abundance in various sizes and none of them were booked out yet! We happily handed over driving licences, passports and credit cards as a fair swap for trying out 2 mint looking bikes for the next hour and after some faffing (the team set up front and rear suspension to your personal preference/weight, etc, and fitted suitable pedals to match your footwear), we toddled off for the first tour of the well marked 5km test track.
They had picked a circuit with just enough ups and downs to work through all the gear combinations you're ever likely to use. I wasn't that impressed with my lumbering Safire so was quite happy to return it, only to be handed a voucher (yes, a Voucher!) for free tea and cake - the smiles widened again. Jeremy was already grinning from ear to ear after blasting around the test track on a fast and feisty Giant Anthem.
Santa Cruz was next on our list, I chose a Superlight and Jeremy jumped on a Blur XC after the S-C guys did a lot of faffing. We did a faster, and for me a more enjoyable circuit, returning to watch a few groups of very fit, very young and very serious looking XC competitors starting off on their practice laps for the Sunday race sessions.
Not to be distracted for long we both got fitted out with very handsome looking Trek Fuels and I felt completely at home on mine, what with the geometry and suspension set-up so close to my own Stumpy. At this point we felt that 4 laps might be enough, so made a careful choice for our last lap.
Jeremy went back to the Anthem that he had started on, and I went left-field choosing a very tasty £3000+ carbon Epic! Despite feeling a little tired I flew around the circuit, not because it was now a fast and familiar track but because the bike had wings! I couldn't believe it - I led Jeremy around the track for a change, only to look back and see him still grinning away on the Anthem. It was hard to hand these two back but we did, only with slightly twisted smiles remaining.
As we drove away after some more tea and cake we kicked ourselves for not saving a bit in reserve to take our own bikes round the track - that would have been the acid test!
We were sorely tempted to return the next day to watch the actual racing, with many National/International level British XC teams competing, but we opted to ride locally and give our own bikes a bit of a test run!
At least now when I do decide to retire my loyal old Stumpy, I know what's going at the top of my shopping list!