Written by Yvonne Hay, enthusiastic mountain biker and leader of Ginger Squirrel cycling group
It takes a rather unique outlook on life to combine a bike festival, music festival and craft ale festival into the one event on the same weekend and still keep everyone entertained. Whether you were a 2 year old toddler, sprightly enduro racer or aging rocker they had something happening.
Friday was a work of genius, from our point of view. While the men pitched the tents, the kids disappeared on the Fairy Hunt, and the ladies drew the long straw and headed off up the hill on the Muckmaiden Ladies Ride Out to practise the enduro course, which was guided by our very own Ginger Squirrel guides. It was a great turnout, and fantastic to see old faces from last year and meet some new. There was also a real mix of experienced racers and those new to enduro, with the added bonus that no one fell out with their other half trying to put up the tent.
As we returned, got showered and then headed to the barn to see the evening entertainment, it was obvious a lot of effort had been put into creating atmosphere at the festival. The novel outdoor dragon-heater below was a real one off, and we discovered when we weren’t looking that one of the junior squirrels had entered the pump track challenge and won 3rd place. Not even on her own bike! She’d managed to borrow a bike and helmet at the trackside and go for it.
Saturday was an early morning rise for the Ginger Squirrel camp, as we set up our stall where we were holding a Tombola of cool bike parts throughout Saturday and Sunday.
The rest of Saturday was a crazy blur with so much to do and see. Most of the adults squeezed in a lap, with Chief Squirrel as sweeper, herding the lost souls of enduro around and helping punctured riders to the track pumps. This is where I have to admit to being a little smug about changing to tubeless tyres the day before. With fresh tyres too in my favourite combo of High Roller Purgatory, I had grip for days and no fears of the notorious rocks at Comrie, while still being light and fast rolling.
Gravity Squirrel, aka Lynette Deacon and one of the founding Ginger Squirrels, sneaked onto the podium with Eilidh Wells who attended the Friday ladies ride. Eilidh put down an incredibly fast time to be overall fastest female in a unprecedented field of 31 female riders. She was a pleasure to have on the ladies ride, happy to share her line choice with the other ladies.
The main event on Sunday was another of Muckmedden’s pioneering race formats. They ran their first kids’ enduro last year and are sticking with it this year for some of the 2016 calendar. It’s a full blown 4/5 stage enduro for the children with dibbers (electronic timing wristbands) exactly the same as the adults. A superb course which takes advantage of the natural woodland and the skills park pump track.
With a turnout of 108 riders between 6 and 12 years old, this proved to be a really popular event. It was recommended that riders under 10 years old would have a chaperone follow them around, making it a real family affair with mum/dad on hand to carry your food and spares.
What we really noticed was how all the children were smiling. Too often at other cycling events we see half the young racers in tears; Not at Cream o the Croft. Every single child enjoyed every single minute and then afterwards they compared times with their friends. Just like the adults they forgot about podiums, because what really matters is if you beat your friends.
And last but not least…
All in all Cream o the Croft was a spectacular event all around, and I’d recommend you get along to the next Muckmedden mountain bike festival at Forfar on 17th September 2016!
Ginger Squirrel is a not-for-profit company dedicated to encouraging women and girls to get into cycling (and healthier lifestyles in general) by organising guided mountain bike rides, kids’ camps, enduro/funduro ride outs, workshops in bicycle mechanics and more.
Ginger Squirrel is the brainchild of Yvonne Hay – one of Scotland’s most talented mountain bikers.
While Ginger Squirrel has a feminine slant, males can get involved too. After all, Yvonne just happens to be married to one of Scotland’s most talented bike mechanics – Dougie Hay who wields the spanners in our Canonmills branch. Having declared that interest, the Bike Co-op would be proud to support this inspiring enterprise, even if our Dougie had no involvement in it.
As it happens, Dougie will be lending his expertise when we provide the venue for a Ginger Squirrel Trailside Mechanics class in our Bruntsfield training space in August (please book via Ginger Squirrel, not the Bike Co-op).