The Big Picture | Cream o’the Croft Mountain Bike Festival
How do you make an enduro a funduro? Wrap it in a great festival, add some unique stages and hold it in a venue with a cracking selection of trails, that’s how! Perthshire based event organisers Muckmedden have always championed fun and we love their events, so as soon as they announced the Cream o’the Croft, a three day mountain bike festival in the heart of Scotland, we knew we had to head over.
Over 600 campers had turned up to enjoy the festival, and despite the usual Scottish forecast the sun was shining and the camping field was dry and green. Comrie Croft was playing host to the event, a privately run Trail Centre in Perthshire, Scotland. This relaxed and funky farmstead has a wonderful green ethos, with a site bristling with wildlife, cool Nordic kåtas, good cafes and some of Perthshires nicest trails. Over the last few years Comrie has invested heavily in trail development, and now with it’s new red route, pump track and dual slalom track, it’s a great destination for riders of all abilities. If you’ve never been, or have not been for a while, it’s well worth a visit!
The camping field quickly filled up and no sooner had the tents gone up and old friends reunited it was time for the activities to begin. The weekend started with a bang as one of the marshals revealed a hidden talent and treated us all to one of the most inappropriate banjo song we had ever heard, it was hilarious. Next on the busy schedule was the premier showing of Unreal, a great new MTB film and a must see. The film was hosted by the Pedal Powered Cinema, powered entirely from exercise bikes in the audience, what a brilliant idea if you can get the wee kids off them.
The night carried on with more cracking events. There was a huge uptake for the pumptrack challenge, as keen pumpers signed up to throw a wee 24inch Kona Shred round a wooden track in the main courtyard. No pedalling was allowed and soon things were getting pretty wild as the lads got stuck in. Event manager Aaron showed himself to be a bit of a covert pumptrack ninja and almost stole the show, but was narrowly piped (or pumped) for the win.
The Alechemy Bunnyhop Competition kicked off next and drew a huge crowd, you just cannot beat a good old heckle fest. There were some good hops going down, but it soon became clear that it was going to be a one man show as local trials rider David Donaldson showed just how high a trials bike can hop.
As the sun rose, bleary eyed riders shrugged off the morning confusion that a slightly drunken night under canvas can bring. Coffees were consumed and everyone started to get excited for the Funduro, an eight stage race where the emphasis was purely on fun. However, before the racing kicked off the trails were officially opened by cycle adventure legend Mark Beaumont, and the crowd was treated to a ‘Rock n Roll’ masterclass from 13 year old axe shredder Huw Thomas.
Stage One got things going the right way, after a good haul up the hill to the very top we dropped into the new Red Route, which picked and wound its way down the hill. This was a 3km pedal mission, rocky and rough it undulated up and down. There were many big rock features which caused a few spicy moments for those riding them blind, and who does not love a sneaky gap jump? It was a massive stage, over eight minutes on the pedals, but riotous fun to ride.
Stage Three was where things diverged a little from the norm, a timed hill climb. Over three minutes of flat out climbing! Panting racers had to pass through water pistol alley manned by crack shot kids. If you managed to negotiate a limbo you were supposed to escape a soaking, but it seemed that rule had been chucked out the window as the wee rascals dispensed well aimed aqua attacks regardless. This stage had even the fittest blowing hard and trying to invent new organs to breathe with, but it was taken in great spirits.
Stage Five was another Muckmedden classic, two laps of the pump track with no pedalling allowed. There were big time penalties for those who tried to get in sneaky pedals. Those that could pump enjoyed the flow while those with no rhythm had to hump and gyrate their way round.
The final two stages should be made mandatory for all enduros, a frantic dual slalom race to the line. Racers were lined up in pairs on the slalom track and the racing was ridiculously fun as riders railed turns together, head to head to the finish. Healing vibes go out to Steve Lambie who got a wee bit wild on the lower turns and went down hard.
After the racing was over, the sun was still shining giving racers plenty of time to rip into some local Alechemy beers, before getting their groove on to foot stomping local country and bluegrass bands who kept the party going into the small hours. Special mention should go out to two particularly spectacular dancers, the ‘Third Blues Brother’ and ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Watching Dude’, you rocked hard!
Cream o’the Croft was brilliant fun, great trails, innovative stages and a fantastic atmosphere. This was a new and big step for Muckmedden events, their first festival, but they sure did pull it off. The weekend also highlighted the amazing trails and facilities of Comrie Croft, a perfect destination for a fun day out with riders of all abilities.
The next Muckmedden event is the Eliminator and it sounds amazing, for more details check it out here.
We would also like to give a big shout out to the sponsors who helped make the festival awesome. Comrie Croft Campsite and Hostel, Comrie Croft Bikes, Hansen’s Kitchen, The Scottish Mountain Bike Consortium, Alpine Bikes, Perthshire Flooring, Alechemy Brewing, Scottoiler, Haglöfs UK Ltd, Horizon Watches, Mudhugger, Wigwam Mills Inc, Shredxs, Findra, Team Ride It, DMBinS, Durty Events, DM Leisure Binn Group, Progression Bikes, Collective Training, Collective Trax and Angus Cycling Festival.
Words and Photos: Trev Worsey