Hiccups and High-5’s
Admittedly, I’ve struggled a tad writing up this race report. While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the Red Bull Foxhunt last year, I did feel that this year the event’s organisation let the event down somewhat.
Although there are camping facilities provided for the Foxhunt, previous years have allowed riders to attend each day separately. Perfect if you live close by, or if you fancy getting a cosy bed in a hotel for the night. This year though, it was unclear as to whether this was a camping-only event.
When I arrived on Saturday morning, I was turned away from the car park by a Red Bull member of staff who told me that parking is only available for campers. If I wanted to park my car on site, I wouldn’t be allowed to get it back out until Sunday afternoon. When I asked where I could park, I was told “I dunno. Up the road, on the side somewhere”. So that’s what me and a number of people had to do, park precariously on the edge of a 60mph country road.
I contacted Red Bull after the event for some clarification on the parking: “The designated field for parking was badly affected by the heavy rain and we diverted parking into the adjacent field which was much firmer ground. Advice to people parking throughout the weekend, whether on site or not, was that assistance for people exiting the site would be provided on Sunday afternoon only, and those people wishing to leave before this would be parking in the knowledge that that there would be no support for vehicles exiting the site until this point.” – Although this would have been an acceptable word of caution, it wasn’t what was relayed to myself, and others looking to park for individual days.
For many people, getting time off work and organising transport can be an issue which is why in previous years, riders have turned up blind on the Sunday and just raced the course. With the Saturday lunchtime announcement informing riders that “you don’t seed, you don’t race”, we were under the impression that was the bottom line. However, when race day approached, un-seeded riders were suddenly allowed to ride in the actual race.
Having contacted Red Bull to query this over-ruling, they said: “The decision to reverse the ruling that only seeded riders could compete on Sunday was made following the uplift difficulties on Saturday during practice. Acknowledging that it had not been possible for all riders to practice as they had hoped, we felt it fair to allow non-seeded riders to participate in the main race if they wished. We endeavoured to communicate this to riders as best as possible but recognise that this information may not have been relayed to all as it was after the rider briefing. We apologise to any participants who were not updated.”
While I can’t help but feel angry for those few who couldn’t ride the event owing to poor event communication, I also can’t deny the brilliant power of community that the Red Bull Foxhunt instils.
For many of us, the Red Bull Foxhunt is our guilt free ladies weekend away. Women gather from all over to meet, make friends and ride bikes. It’s the perfect chance to meet those who you’ve only spoken to online, and even I’ve made life-long friends from the event in the past. It’s worth the hype and the year long anticipation, so any disappointment is keenly felt. Unlike other races in the calendar, this one means so much more than just riding bikes to our growing fledgling community.
Let’s go back North next year (or find somewhere totally new!) – at least there was a Costa nearby.
Check out the full gallery below for more photos from the weekend’s events.