We made it. The second year for the South West series, and our first as Shred Events. They said it wouldn't last, and they were nearly right. Despite the Zsa Zsa Gabor tantrums, teddy chucking and finger pointing, we made it to the end of the year without resorting to violence.
Thankfully the only people to get hurt were the riders, and we are now confident that after all the practice, the emergency services in the South West are better equipped than ever to deal with shenanigans. Is gas and air on the British Cycling banned substance list?
We just had to say a big thank you to all the people who supported us this year. It might look like we know what we're doing but in reality we're just a bunch of idiots with e-z ups, marking tape and a bow saw, heavily reliant on grown-ups to bail us out.
Key people who have suffered our lunacy for the year are Rob and Jane Smith. You'll have met them on registration, they have walked miles around courses with us, looked at us quizzically when the full horror of the course is revealed and patiently fielded endless noddy questions from riders. Where do they think them up?
Thanks to Snapper Chick, our photographer / first aider. We love the fact that riders can download their photos free and wouldn't be able to offer this if it wasn't for Snapper and her love of mountain biking. Maybe next year we'll be able to coax her onto a bike. Everyone deserves a day off.
They are a major drain on our finances, but we couldn't do it without the many landowners that allow us access and tolerate our 'pruning'. I know we bang on about riders behaving responsibly, but when idiots p#ss off landowners with irresponsible riding / trail building / trespassing, it makes it less and less likely that organisers will be able to access the land and put on the events. Behave yourselves out there.
I'm sure that many riders are under the impression that event organisers have got off-shore bank accounts bursting with ill-gotten gains, but for those of you that have seen us trudging round Lidl, you'll be aware that no-one makes any money in cross country racing. The only way we can expand on the service we currently provide is by having more bums on bikes -simples. If you bring all your mates to race, then the series can expand in the way we want it to. Believe it or not, as much as we like watching folk enjoy themselves at our events, we'd much prefer to be out there racing ourselves - the South West champs jerseys would have fitted us perfectly ;)
Volunteers. There, I said it. This is the part where most riders will stick their heads back in the sand and skip to the next paragraph. If you raced every race of the Circus of Dirt then shame on you. No amount of you sending us 'useful' emails or posting on forums will ever make up for not volunteering your services to marshal an event. People have no idea how close the events are to getting pulled when we are scrabbling round for marshals yet again. I suppose we have two choices, we continue to offer truly challenging courses but with the caveat that we will pull them if they don't get a suitable amount of marshals, or we bring you crap courses that don't need to be marshalled. Believe me; we have much better things to be doing with our time than emailing / phoning 400+ people who ignore us yet again. Huge thanks to those that are the true supporters of the series - those that turned up to sit in the rain and watch you get hurt.
In the same vein, thanks to all the British Cycling commissaires. Irrespective of our frustrations with our governing body, its officials do a damn fine job at the regional level. The Go Ride has been awesome again with a stunning 18 youngsters lining up at Combe Sydenham to face plant in the stream. Big thanks and good luck to Jodi.
So who was your favourite caterer of the year? I thought Luffy's bus was pretty Gucci, but did it beat the curried goat wraps at Woodbury? Again, the caterers don't make much money on race days; it isn't easy to find ones that are keen to come along so next time leave your sandwich box and flask at home and buy some freshly cooked goodies.
For 2012 we're resting some venues, completely changing others and throwing in a couple of swerve-balls to keep you on your toes. Your feedback about the series, venues etc. is most welcome but will be completely ignored and we'll do our own thing as usual.
Don't forget the Nationals are coming to Plymouth in September. It would be really good to see a massive contingent of Circus folk racing. We've got another keg of beer lined up for the post-race shindig so bring a glass, watch the cross race and reminisce. And no, I'm not marshalling the bloody cross race - it's someone else's turn.
Report from Round Five, results, photos, series standings, your horoscope and compromising photos of Pikey are available at www.shredstore.co.uk