The week of the Bowland Badass 2012 started badly, with a crash….of thunder. Yes, the Lancashire Rain God had got yet another upset stomach and was grumbling across the region with more rainstorms to dump trillions of tiny wet bits from the Atlantic ocean over the Bowland Badlands and the region’s sodden inhabitants. It was time for Professor Badass to take action. On Thursday evening he conducted an extended voodoo weather dance ceremony in his back garden. Wearing only his sunnies and smothered in a foul-smelling embrocation, he whirled like a dervish and yowled repeated entreaties for a sunny Saturday during a complex, sacrificial ritual.
On Friday morning, after Mrs.Badass had secured his release from police custody and a suitable compensation payment had been made to a couple of local cat owners, the Professor set off with JD and TechnicalExpert to sign the route. It took them 12 long hours and it planked it down every second of every minute of the whole damn time. JD and TechnicalExpert were glum, but the Prof just smiled serenely. He was confident his voodoo dance would do the trick. Did it work on the day? Of course it did….well, until the evening, when it yammered down in a great, grey wall of wetness. But for 12 hours from 0600 onwards there was sun, suN, sUN, SUN! Hot sun, yellow sun, sultry sun, sweaty sun, warm and sticky sun. The kind of sun that you’d wear as a jacket every day for the rest of your life if you could. What more could a crazy potential Bowland Badass candidate ask for? Nothing! Well, an onion bhaji perhaps…..
And so they came. Of the 70 or so entrants, 44 total fools set off from 0640 onwards from Bowland Badass Headquarters (BBH). The fast boys went off in a wave, looking grim and determined. Then came the slightly more relaxed and/or careful. Then came the nervous and feeling a bit scared about it actually. Finally, after every one else had left, the guy who at 0700 still had his cycle pants round his head and his bike halfway out of his boot, trundled off with a cheery wave. With his marshalls in place to make sure the riders got through the first few miles with no mishap, and the mobile feed stops rattling out towards their appointed places, Professor Badass sat nervously at BBH to man the telephone and drink endless cups of coffee while he awaited news of progress.
Shock! Horror! A local entrant who knew the route reported in that a naughty farmer had bashed down a sign at the left turn to Quernmore after the descent of Littledale Top. He re-erected the sign for those following. The Prof breathed a sigh of relief and promised to reward this spontaneous act of total self-sacrifice with a complimentary bit of flapjack on their next club ride.
Then our spy at Easington Crossroads rang in to report the passing of the fast boys shortly after, as he counted through the riders. A heartbeat later they were pitching up at Feed Stop 1 and setting to with our eclectic range of nutritional material. Word had it that they “appeared focused”. Once all riders had got through the crossroads The Prof packed off Mrs. Badass to collect the signs from the first 50 miles of the route, under the strict admonition that she was not allowed to gun it and become too tired to do the washing up later. The Badass began to bite: 1 chucked chain, 1 split tyre, and 2 feeling ropeys later we were down to 40 or so riders on the road. The Prof then fielded a few phone calls from lost riders, using his encyclopaedic knowledge of the course to set them back on track, if only temporarily in a few instances.
News started to come in from Feed Stop 2 as the field began to split apart, with a gap of 21/2 hours between the first and last riders through. With 1 missing in action, and 4 more biomechanicals the numbers were further reduced, but finally held at 35 finishers. The word on the street was that the roads were awash with cack, mud, gravel, boulders, and chunks of Moon rock, with tarmac extrusions in GisburnForest, standing water in various hollows, landslides on the Cross of Greet, and bridges in danger of being washed away. The Prof giggled gleefully. This was surely the stuff of Badassing? Luckily, punctures were mercifully few, mostly being had by 1 rider who had the bonus of being able to hone his tube changing skills on 3 separate occasions.
But later, on crunching the timing numbers as the fast boys bashed through the Pendle Forest Hell Zone and up to our surprise feed Stop 3 on the summit of Longridge Fell, the Prof began to get seriously concerned that his fastest time for the Badass was in severe danger of being obliterated. After overdose amounts of caffeine consumption he felt his heart flip into anxious tachycardia as he paced the concrete floor of the BBH, awaiting the arrival of the first rider home. It wasn’t long before the King of the Bowland Badass 2012 rolled up with a ride time of 10 hours and 59 minutes. The Prof was flooded with conflicting emotions. On the one hand, he felt a joyous relief that someone had actually finished the country’s first ever ultra-sportive. On the other hand he was psychotically angered by the fact that the guy had had the utter temerity to smash his time by a full 56 minutes. Oh the cheek of it! The Prof acted the elder statesman and resisted the urge to attack, handing over the much vaunted quickest time trophy with a twisted grimace. Less than a quarter of an hour later the second placed rider turned up.
The third man home arrived back at 18:14. Precisely 30 seconds later the Lancashire Rain God let out a huge howl and vomited the watery contents of his guts all over Garstang. It lasted for precisely 1 hour at BBH, but our plucky Badasses got wet, wet, wet for a lot longer as out in the boon docks they were treated to a thunderous downpour that moved with them. Some got in goose-pimpley and shivering, others were merely “refreshed”. As the field gradually rocked up in soaked dribs and drabs time seemed to bend and extend into darkness. A few bottles of beer were cracked open as everyone hunkered down to await the arrival of the Badass Rouge. Finally, in a blaze of lights and to hearty applause he rolled in with a ride time of 15 hours and 43 minutes. After the presentation ceremony of the Badass Rouge rear light, all that was left to do was pack up and go home. Thus ended the Bowland Badass 2012………
Every Badass had a tale to tell on their return, with good bits and hard bits aplenty. The topsy turvy emotional tumult of the ride could be tracked through tales of blow outs, muddy faceplants, sweety guzzling at feed stops, blowing gaskets on Birdy Brow, the sadistic routing past numerous signs to Garstang in the final 15 miles (a particular favourite!), and the Lancashire rain God’s cataclysmic vomit as evening set in. The Bowland Badass is a route for all riders. It’s a tough training ride and a chance to pit yourself against the clock and others for the hardcore racesnakes and endurance specialists. It’s a hard day out in the countryside for those habituated to churning out big miles on long rides. But for us it is perhaps the “ordinary riders” like the Badass Rouge who exemplify most precisely the spirit of the Bowland Badass. It is etched in the hearts and minds of those who dare to dream that they can push themselves further and harder than they’ve ever been before and somehow find they have the mental and physical legs to do it.
Go Badasses go!!