If there is one thing that the Gorrick event organisers excel in it’s providing fun courses. And last weekends Endura Autumn Classic, the last in the series, was no exception.
With dry trails, blue skies and ell over 500 riders enjoying many of the Crowthorne Woods delights – where Gorrick started nearly 20 years ago – smiles were the order of the day.
Features such as the twistastic ‘corkscrew’ section where you might have experienced a washing machine cycle effect as you tackled the tight root strewn corners, spitting you out at the bottom of a refreshing forest road, before heading into ‘Battle of Waterloo” where you could fight your own personal battle of speed over balance.
Heading home the warm autumnal sun on your back, the course threaded you through tunnels of tightly packed trees, plunging you towards the comfort of the finish, until you rounded the corner to be presented with a root strewn climb away from the tea and bacon butties. A push on over the top then found you heading to the roller coaster ride that is ‘Pete’s Plunge’ before finally catching your breath as you cruise past the Time Laps finish line, ready to do it all again. Crowthorne, a feature packed, funfair ride of a course!
Youth races got the day off to a fast start
Early doors, the arena was buzzing with a plethora of eager young riders bursting with enthusiasm to get their races under way. Ages ranging from the under 10’s to the 16’s and under jostled for position on the start line keen to be at the front of the action at least for the first 100m of the cruel uphill start.
First rider to throw down the racing gauntlet was VC Jubilee Youth rider Sam Stean, who opened up over 2min advantage on the first of his two laps to take the win with a comfortable 4min gap, this win was copied by younger brother Oliver Stean in the juvenile race who took his race with a 1 min 14 sec advantage over 2nd placed Matt Fratesi. Whilst the youth girl’s race may have been lacing in competitors the juvenile entry was a bit healthier with Holly MacMahon taking the win.
Super fast racing in the vets category
At the other end of the age scale, fielding a huge field were the vets, super vets and grand vets, producing some of the tightest racing all day in these highly competitive categories. This being Remembrance Sunday, with poppies awash on helmets and number boards, a 2min silence was observed before the vets got their teeth into the racing.
In the super vets Lewis King and Mark Hutt made their intentions clear as they blasted out sub-19 min opening laps. King and Hutt clung to each other’s wheels lap after lap, being joined by John Veness in lap 3. However by lap 4 Hutt paid the price for the fast pace and dropped off the leading group leaving King and Veness to Duke it out to the line. King took the victory with Veness just 9 secs adrift, with Hutt just another 35sec later.
Vet Steve Farmer had an easier battle in his race, leading from the start keeping the pressure on to take the win from Dave Brothers over the 3 laps with a nearly 3 min gap. It was another close affair in the grand vets with just 48 secs separating the top 5, proving once again that age is just a number.
Battling it out for top honours over the 3 laps, were Tim Stowe, Ian Petherbridge, Dennis Dix, Geoff Burke. A tricky start for Robert Jackson saw him starting at a disadvantage, his next 2 laps were spent clawing back time lost but despite the fastest last two laps he could only drag himself back to 4th. Meanwhile out in front Tim Stowe was the man to beat. A kick on lap 2 saw Stowe open up a gap that took him to the win, despite valiant efforts by Ian Petherbridge who came in second just 7 secs adrift.
For the vet women it was Elaine Burroughs who ruled the roost, leaving the minor positions to be fought over tooth and nail, with just 19 secs separating spots 3 – 5. Viv Hazelton was the grand dame of racing taking yet another win in the grand vet women’s race.
It’s all about the fun
Underlining the fun aspect of the event was a healthy turn out in that very category. Philip Wellard enjoyed himself all the way to the finish line in the packed field, as did team mate Ruth Patchett in the fun women’s race.
Open men packed even more riders into the race with a 90 strong field contending the win. It was Paul Thomas who proved the strongest in the end after a 2 lap battle with Shaun Hurrell, who plummeted down to 22nd after a mechanical put him out of the race for first. Roz Giles took the win in the women’s open race.
Scott Forbes dominates the expert race
It was great to see Scott Forbes back in action on the weekend after an enforced break due to an unfortunate accident early in the year putting paid to his racing. He certainly looked like he was up to speed, winning his race, leaving the rest of the expert field reeling from his after shock as he blasted round the trails glad to be back to competition.
As with every Gorrick the atmosphere was fantastic as riders of all ages and riding experience, enjoyed a competitive blast round the ever-popular Crowthorne trails. Everyone was a potential winner too, thanks to the generous event sponsor Endura, providing a fantastic selection of excellent products that were awarded as spot prizes throughout the day. For those that won, a Gorrick trophy added to the warm glow of success.
That’s it for cross country racing this year from the Gorrick crew, but don’t worry the Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series is just round the corner and for those that want to boost their endurance base, the ever popular Merida Brass Monkeys kick off at the end of November, leaving no time to let that grass grow under your wheels.