For a moment last weekend the Gorrick Endura Autumn Classic was transported back to the early 1990s. Back nearly to the dawn of time when mountain bike fever really hit the UK, where it was embraced wholly by a group of enthusiastic riders – and Gorrick was born.
Fast forward 20 years and those enthusiasts are still at the very heart of the sport they love so dearly, providing grass roots racing to thousands over the years, with no sign of stopping.
In among yet another busy schedule of races, with hundreds taking to the Crowthorne trails in Berkshire, making the most of the beautiful autumnal day, 40 of the very first competitors of the inaugural Gorrick race were starting to gather. A flourish of garish coloured lycra, vintage steel hardtails, eclectic suspension and dodgy elastic all happily made its way to the start line ready to re-live that very first race with a two lap bash.
Who remembers the ground breaking Pace, all box tubing and shiny good looks? How about the Specialized Stumpjumper? Nick Onslow brought a mint condition Stumpjumper along to admiring ooohs and ahhs from those of us that remembered, while Paul Hudson re-lived his chequered past, dressed head-to-toe in cutting edge ’90’s downhill kit along with his classic top of the range DH Haro.
Meanwhile, a smattering of original Gorrick jerseys rubbed shoulders with a bright mixture of retro designs that helped re-live those heady days along with some real classic bikes. Legendary Time Laps boss Frank King, who won his first race at the Gorrick 20 years previous, was all smiles as he relegated timing duties to take his place on the grid.
The eventual winner, sporting a retro Specialized jersey but riding a much newer machine, was Craig Bowles, who scooped the Anniversary Cup for his efforts, while the first vintage bike back was a Specialized Stumpjumer ridden to a fine fifth spot by Colin Adams, with Onslow’s Stumpie not far behind in seventh. It was also a day that Ian Grist, sporting a classic Proflex, would remember well as he took the honours in the prize draw and was rewarded with a handsome £500, while three others grabbed runner-up prizes from Endura.
Throughout the day random riders were rewarded with more Endura clothing as they took part in the numerous races, proving you can be a winner at the Gorrick without crossing that finish line first! However, for some that holy grail of first spot in their category saw once again some super-close racing.
Trading in his singlespeed for at least a few more gears saw Al Fairbairn swap his second place at the first Classic to a narrow win after a hard-fought battle with Scott Forbes and Daniel Rainscourt in the super masters race, while the ultra-competitive open men’s race – a three-lap chaingang of riders – was finally blown apart by Paul Thomas and Derek Wilson, with the former taking the win by only 12 seconds. Meanwhile, Gretel Warner left everything she had on the trails in the open women’s race to take a commanding win from Susan Parker.
Narrow winning margins continued apace in the grand vets category, with both the women’s and the men’s races being fought to the wire. Viv Hazelton proved to have the winning moves as she led from the start from rival Jacqueline Easton, extending her winning margin in their two-lap race by 17 seconds, while Ray Crosthwaite rode a strong race keeping his rivals at arm’s length despite a hard dig by nearest rival Tim Stowe.
But it had to be the master’s race which took the award for the narrowest margin, with four riders finishing the four-lap race with just 46 seconds separating them. It was Kim Little who made the winning move on the final lap, taking the win just 30 seconds ahead of Jason Painton, with Ed Bracey another seven seconds adrift and Ed Fraser a further nine seconds back to complete the top four of what was a very popular category.
The biggest field of the day, however, was the men’s fun race with nearly 70 riders looking for their own bit of fun on the sun-soaked Crowthorne trails. And it was Rob Wilson who had the most fun, claiming victory over the two-lap race.
The trails were also awash with a host of younger riders, with, once , some really close racing – especially in the under 10’s! Hopefully their competitive spirit will still be there in 20 years time, when maybe they’ll be back to help celebrate a bit more Gorrick history.
Many thanks to everyone involved with Gorrick, especially Jon and Jane Lucas – the real driving force over the years, and who have helped carve out a fantastic series of races for all riders. Thanks, too, to sponsors Endura clothing.
Don’t worry if you think you’ve missed all the fun for this year. The Gorrick folk also have a hand in the Merida Brass Monkeys Winter Enduro Series. The three events spread over the winter months will help you to get through the Christmas festivities with little to no damage to your waistline – probably! The first round kicks off on November 25. Entries are filling up fast and there will be no entries on the day – sign-up online at www.gorrick.com
You can find a full race gallery from the 20th anniversary Endura Autumn Classic at www.joolzedymond.com. All images © Joolze Dymond.