The 2023 Big ‘Un // 115km of rain, gale force winds and mud… lots of mud…
Back in October we ran the 3rd edition of the Big ‘Un, our epic off-road event taking place at Brother HQ in Kent. The Big ‘Un is made to be a challenge, not just because of the riding, but also the harsh conditions due to the time of the year. We purposely hold this event towards the end of October when the temperature drops and the days are getting colder.
It’s a tough 115km ride (or 155km for those that tackle the Bigger ‘Un) winding its way up and over the North Downs of Kent. A large portion of the route is off-road, taking in everything from smooth pine forest trails to rough, rocky single track which can be tricky when conditions are good… and treacherous when bad.
As with all events we keep a keen eye on the weather in the buildup; this year, a week out from the start, we could tell it was going to be wet. However, as Saturday got closer it became apparent that conditions were going to be biblical. Storm Babet, one of the season’s first big storms was set to hit that weekend, bringing with it extremely wet conditions across the south east.
The forecasts were correct – we woke to strong winds, torrential rain and ominous black clouds that hung low over the countryside. Despite this, we still had a fantastic turnout, 80 brave souls made it to the start line, not all would make it to the finish.
We tracked them throughout the day – chasing riders along the course by car, capturing the photos below with @dear_susan_ and meeting at the main feed station at Biketart approximately half way along the route. Here we warmed riders with hot drinks and shots of whiskey. As the day progressed fields turned to mud and trails to rivers. Riders dropped like flies and to be honest, we don’t blame them, conditions really were that bad! The trains back from the small village of Wye, the route’s only bailout point, were packed full of mud covered riders and bikes.
In the end less than half of the pack actually made it round the full route; cold, wet and eager for a hot burrito and pint of ale back at Brother HQ. This was definitely a type two fun kind of day. Huge respect to everyone that came and gave it a crack… especially those that did the full route. We salute you!
The Big ‘Un is one of our favourite weekends of the year and we’re already getting plans together for 2024. Improving the camp facilities, providing some entertainment on Friday night, increasing numbers and potentially bringing it forward by a few weeks are all things we’re considering – keep your eyes peeled for more info in the new year…