Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Fell films, flipping freezing and (finally) fun!

Fell films

I worked hard on this project. Finding all the films by trawling through YouTube, Vimeo and various sites including the FRA. Once I'd found the ones that I really liked I had to contact the film makers and get their permission. One of the first films on the list was 'Naylor's Run'. I contacted Striding Edge films and Eric Robson's wife Annette immediately came back to me and said that they would be very happy to give permission to show their film as it was such a good cause (Bolton Mountain Rescue Team and Dashers). The Bedlamites film was another one that I was very keen to show and again the film makers gave permission straight away. The other films were Reflections on Sixty, Racing Time, the really clever cartoon Onwards and I was very pleased to get Mark 'fellephant' Birbeck on board and show a video that he managed to get finished just before the show.
Initially I wanted to have the show at Darwen Library Theatre but at £60 and hour and a minimum of 4 hours  hire then this soon became a non starter. I was put onto DACA as a venue by John East of Friends of Darwen Library and this turned out to be ideal. The hire charge was £50 for the evening and I managed to get sponsorship (from Lead On, Pro Sport Supplements and the Black Horse pub) to cover this so all the ticket money went to the charity donation. As well as donating the lion's share of the sponsorship money, my mate Baggy from the Black Horse also offered to put some sandwiches on for us in the pub after.
After an appeal for a photo to use for the poster on the FRA my mate Ady Nicholls, a Sport Sunday photographer, came up trumps with a great shot of a pair of running legs splashing through a puddle. Perfect.
I publicised the event via Twitter and FB, got in contact with the Lancashire Telegraph, put posters up and, of course, put a flier in the Dash.
Once all this was in place it was game on. I must admit to be being pretty nervous. I had no idea how many people would turn up to pay their £2.50 on the night. Would it turn out to be another poorly attended event like the Toy Run? Cath, Hannah and I headed down to DACA and started to set up. To make it more fun I decided to make it look like a fell race. I had a sign up at the desk saying 'Registration. £2.50. no kit required. No safety pins.' The way to the studio was marked with red and white barrier tape and the drinks for the interval was water and orange juice in Dashers race water containers.
Seven o' clock arrived and people began to trickle in. Paul Livsey and Jonathan Stubbs from Dashers had offered to help out. Livsey took some photos and Stubbsy manned the lights in the studio.
Clearing my throat I nervously stood in front of everyone and began:

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to Fell! An evening of off road running films. Thank you for supporting the event. Due to the kind support of our sponsors – Lead on, Pro Sport Supplements and the Black Horse, all funds will go to Darwen Dashers and Bolton Mountain Rescue Team. The main feature tonight is about the inspirational Cumbrian fell runner Joss Naylor MBE but there is also a full support programme of short films. All about running, all very different. There will be a 10 minute interval part way through but let’s begin, in true Saturday Matinee style, with a cartoon. This is ...

Onwards by James Jarvis who incidentally is a 2:35 marathon runner. He says:
The film was inspired by certain personal experiences in running – a favourite run over Blanchland moor in Northumberland, being attacked by a crow in Singapore – and also by the transcendent, almost psychedelic experience of the simple act of running.

Reflections on Sixty
This short Award Winning film was produced during the 48 hour film marathon at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival. Shot, edited and produced by Toby Adamson and Richard Dixon as part of the Adventure Film Academy workshop run in the week leading up to the festival. The brief: to produce a 2 minute film from concept to final product in the space of 48 hours. Stewart Johnson, a fell runner from Kendal, proved a fantastic subject for the film. The film was given the AFA 48hr Film Marathon Award

Racing Time
Directed and Produced by Ra Page and Adele Myers Comma Films
A seventy year old fell runner travels across rough terrain and extreme weather conditions in pursuit of an indefinable target... Based on a poem by Chris Woods

And now we have a bit of a coup. This film is making its premier this evening.
This is ‘Fellraisers by a local fell runner and film maker called Mark Birbeck also known as Fellephant. He says: I’m a fell runner and I make fell running films when I'm injured. I usually put my films on the internet in the hope they get exposed to fell runners and anyone else who may appreciate them. Usually on Vimeo, Youtube or on my own fellephant blog. I try to make films which are different. Films which archive my sport from my own perspective. Filming fell races gives me the opportunity to combine my three favourite pastimes. Music, photography and fell running. For non fell runners in the audience this film is a collection of footage taken from a few different fell races over the period of a year. Some in Wales and some in England. The film footage is a mixture of events taken from these races in no particular order. This is an eight minute film accompanied by my own music. Hope you like it.

The Bedlamites
Shyla and Lukas Lee's recent independent film, the Bedlamites. The film explores the beautiful countryside of the north of England and the community spirit that goes hand in hand with fell running. The film features 5 times English Fell Champion Ian Holmes and is mostly about night fell running.

Naylors Run by Eric Robson Striding Edge
Filmed around Joss’ 60 at 60 run, as the Wasdale man attempted 60 peaks on his 60th birthday, in just 36 hours – from Walna Scar to Glenridding, a distance of 105 miles with over 40,000feet of ascent! The film also records Joss’ thoughts on his injuries, running longevity and his feelings for this magical area of the British Isles.

That concludes this evening’s performance. Can I just say thank you to John East of Friends of Darwen Library for his assistance in putting on the event. And thanks again to the sponsors of the event, namely  Lead On, Pro Sport Supplements and the Black Horse.
 I hope you have enjoyed it and maybe it has inspired you to run yourself if you don’t already. Please have a look at dashers.org.uk for details about the club and the 5 races we put on. And now why not come and join us in the Black Horse for sandwiches and some liquid refreshment?

After packing away we then headed up to the pub through a massive hailstorm. About 30 people joined us in the Black Horse for beer and sandwiches. I got tucked into a few pints and stayed talking to Jonathan B and Paul Julien for quite a while before wobbling my way home. Although the event had not been a roaring success I think it went well and people enjoyed the eclectic mix on offer. Would I do it again? Hmm, not so sure. It was a lot of hard work. We'll see.

Malham tarn Track Attack 28th April

Well, this turned out to be quite an event! I'd signed up for it ages ago after Craig Sefton pointed it out to me. £12 to do a 25 mile event? Not bad. I must admit here that I was a bit blase about it all and took it pretty casually. I think I still had Catalonian sunshine on my mind. I'd roped Dave Billi and Livsey in on it and we all travelled up in Dave's builders van. We used my sat nav to get us there and the journey turned into a bit of an epic in itself! We reached Malham ok but then the sat nav went a bit postal on us and sent us off into the wilds, culminating in us ending up driving along the Pennine Way! Eventually we reached the race start. the weather was a bit overcast and breezy and I began to realise that I was underdressed. Before we set off I managed to cadge a Buff off Craig and I donned the totally inadequate 'waterproof' jacket I'd brought.
We set off in groups of about 10 at 5 minute intervals, I think. To keep warm I set off at a bit of a lick and was soon mixing it with a few people. We got onto the big descent of Mstilles Lane and eventually popped out onto the road near Kilnsey Crag. We'd been issued with a map but a lot of people obviously hadn't bothered to look at it as everyone came to a halt at a T junction and began moaning because there was no marker to indicate the way. 
As we trundled onwards the rain started. I got into a brisk spinny rhythm along the road and stayed with a couple of fast guys, one of them being Roy Hunt who had taken part in the Dark 'Un. After a while we turned offroad and headed up. And up... It was too steep and there was such a strong headwind that I had to walk. I pushed for ages. When I did manage to get on a could only ride the singlespeed for a short period before it got too hard and I was off agian. The weather had properly closed in now. we were in clag all the time and the wind was blasting the rain into us. 
I was soon soaked to the skin and getting very cold. I had only got thin gloves on and my hands were soon completely devoid of feeling. It occurred to me that this was only part way round the first (smaller) loop of the course.
I battled on and passed a few. The way marking consisted of signs telling us to head for the next gate and some tiny little flags stuck in the ground now and again. I think I was quite lucky as I never actually got lost. Later it seemed I was in a minority. I got colder and colder. Finally I reached the highest point and headed back towards the start point. I was riding through a stream and the only way I could tell if my hands were on the brakes was from the grinding noise of pad on disc. This was not good. 
Through a gate and I completed the first loop. As I passed the marshals I was asked if I was continuing. I said 'Yes' and headed along the road. Within 5 minutes I ground to a halt. I was shivering so violently that I couldn't steer straight. A minute of mental clarity saw me wisely realising that continuing would be reaslly stupid. I turned back and told the marshals I'd finished. Luckily for me Dave had left his van keys at the start so I got them and headed for the van. I must have already looked a bit dodgy as one of the marshals came with me. I had to get him to open the van as my hands wouldn't work and I couldn't open the door.
Once he;d done this and checked I was ok he went and after I got in I realised I couldn't undo my helmet. Luckily Nigel Barnes appeared at that moment and I got him to do it. Right, now I can get changed into some warm dry clothes and get summat to eat, yes? No. Now I couldn't work the zip on my jacket. I was shaking like mad and freezing cold. I tried everything to get it undone. Even trying to pull it over my head still partly unzipped. No joy. It took me around 15 minutes to get it undone. Nightmare.
 Finally I could get my soaking kit off and struggle into dry stuff. I found a biscuit and crammed it in. My fingers were still totally dead and I was still shivering. Eventually Dave Billi appeared. he'd also pulled out. We started the van and got the heater blasting out. When he'd got changed he went and got some of the free hot drinks that the organiser provided. 
We sat in the van for a long time. It was obvious that Paul had carried on. I was impressed but I didn't envy him. Another hot drink and some food was tucked away. Much later Paul arrived. He'd had a rough time of it witht the cold and wet and some dodgy way marking had seen him go astray but he'd finished. It turned out later that about 75% of racers had pulled out so Paul had done bloody well. 
Driving home I reflected on what, for me, had been one of the worst days out on the bike for many a year. it was such a shame as the organisers had done a good job and in different conditions it would have been a cracking day out. I also kicked myself for being so complacent in not taking the right kit with me. With my poor resistance to cold and Reynauds Syndrone I had had a real mare and could quite easily have gone into full blown hypothermia. One to put down to experience and learn a lesson from, I think.

SSUK '13, Swanage, Dorset. 3rd - 6th May 
I'd been looking forward to this since signing up for it. It was going to be a bit of an unknown quantity as I was taking Cath with me. her first time at a singlespeed event. She was going to use Will's bike with the seat right down. It was also her first time on a singlespeed!
We'd had to wait for Hannah getting back from a college trip before we could set off. It was about 10.30am before we hit the road south. On a Bank Holiday Friday. Smashing. Initially we made good progress but eventually our luck ran out and we hit standing traffic. The motorway had been closed due to an accident and we had to head onto A and B roads. We got stuck several times on the way down due to the sheer volume of people heading away for the weekend. Ah well, at least the sun was shining,
We couldn't get on the main campsite used for the event, which was a bit of a shame. As it turned out we were quite a way away from it and no-one else from the event was where we were. The site was nice though. We had a reasonable meal at the restaurant that night and retired.
Anyway it was a strange do for a singlespeed event. Due to us being a bit removed from it all there was no getting hammered and talking crap for hours with like minded loons. Not a complaint really as it was nice to just have a mini break with the Mrs somewhere new - and sunny! Bonus!
We headed down to Charlie's shop with the intention of us both doing the Saturday ride. Fate stepped in and put the mockers on that one. We'd driven down and had to pay for a full days parking (£8!!) and by the time we'd got the bikes out and ready to go the large throng of riders that had been hanging out on the sea front looking all niche and that, had buggered off! Aaargh! We had a guess at which way they had gone and set off in pursuit but to no avail. However, it soon became apparent that Cath wasn't overly happy on the Inbred. It was too big, she'd never ridden a SS before and then the freehub started playing up. FFS. Taking this as a sign we opted to head back into Swanage, dump the bikes back in the car and have a mooch and a pub lunch. Hey ho.
That evening we went out for a drive to check out where the Sunday event started from. It was a lovely pub overlooking the sea and the Old Harry rock. We had our tea there. As it was still quite early we also checked out Corfe Castle as I knew the route passed through it. It was in a fantastic little village and there was some sort of crazy re-enactment thing going on there. I'm not quite sure what the theme was as there seemed to be Mongol hordes, Vikings, Saxons and er, a guy in a pith helmet with what looked like welders goggles on. Hmm.

Sunday dawned and yet again we went to Swanage. The event briefing largely consisted of Charlie telling us 'Don't be a dick'. Ok then. Everybody else rode up to the headland and we went back to the car to drive up so Cath could keep up with what was going on. We had a bit of a flap when we discovered the bloody battery had gone flat but eventually I got us sorted (tip - don't buy a car with a fecking electric handbrake as you can't bump it).
Up at the pub people were milling around quaffing pints before the off. Yep, that's pretty singlespeedy, I thought. As it wasn't a race and went through some popular areas on a Bank Holiday weekend we set off in small groups. I was soon up on the Downs (pardon?) and admiring the view out to sea on what was a gorgeous day. I bumped into a guy I know from Hit the North and hooked up riding with him and his American girl;friend for a while. This guy can ride a bit and despite him recovering from snapped tendon in his wrist he was hammering along. It was fun staying with him.
Eventually we ended up as part of a larger group dropping down to the midway point where upon someone uttered the immortal line 'Where are you headed for? For Corfe!' Think about it...
The place was rammed. Loons in various types of armour mixed with loons on one geared bicycles while tourists looked on, mouths agape. I tucked into a nice pint of bitter and bumped into Keef who I'd first properly met at SSEC t'other month. He introduced me to his lot including Tazzy the tattooed beat messiah and Keefs lad who was riding a 1940's fixie!! When we set off again it was apparent that they were taking a more leisurely approach to the ride so I kicked back and stayed with them.
The route was nice, and the weather made it even better. We had an extended stop to mend a couple of punctures and then we were at the finish. Surprisingly enough it was at a pub! We sprawled about in the sunshine and quaffed pints of bitter and cider and suddenly it was your typical SS do.
There was a hog roast and a Scottish poet (??) and eventually there was the presentation. Charlie had asked everyone to bring something with them to put in the prize stash - a belting idea, I thought. The 'winner' of the 'race' was eventually decided on and a very surprised looking girl got to choose something nice from the pile. Various other things were awarded prizes - worst tattoo being a particular standout! Eventually it ended up with 'help yourself to whats left'. I think pretty much everybody got something.
Cath eventually dragged me off before I got totally wasted - I had been in deep conversation about drugs  with a couple of mates from Brighton - and we headed back to the tent. It had been a great day.
After a bracing walk up a nearby hill in the morning we packed up and wended our way home. It only took 5 1/2 hours to get home!
It had been a great weekend away and Charlie the Bikemonger had put on a great event. Fair play to the big fella.

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