The last time that a drop of rain fell on a Gorrick race was nearly two years ago (14 March 2004, fact fans!) so when the rain finally did arrive at Crowthorne it was a shock to the system.
The morning races escaped the worst of the wet stuff, allowing plenty of fast laps to be posted on the dry, flat course. But come the afternoon a deluge and 200 riders turned the course into a thick slop, which despite being messy was great fun to ride.
The Elite men’s field witnessed a bumper turnout, with the top riders looking to kick-start their season. What welcomed them was a far cry from any sunny training camp, but it didn’t seem to deter a lead group containing Mark Russell, Chris Minter, John Veness and Will Simmons striking out and building a lead into lap five. At this stage Veness (Kona) decided it was time to show why he won round one, making a move for the win. Only Simmons (Stif) could follow, but it was not enough and he finished 16 seconds down. Minter (PedalOn) was third wheel over the line.
The Sport race saw Josh Morgan (Loughborough Uni) ride away from a quality field for the win, with Alex Paton (VC Deal) second and Matt Hill (Primera) third.
The Open race saw the last of the dry weather and Gorrick’s biggest ever turnout with 120 riders on the line proving that XC racing really isn’t dead. An early lead was taken by Jake Moxham and Michael Lancaster, but they blew on lap three and the door was wide open for Simon Harris to take the win, with Chris Lane and Ben Thomas second and third respectively.
Earlier on when the trails were in perfect condition, Paul Hopkins won the SuperMasters, recording one of the fastest laps of the day in the process, proving that he’s still got it. In the Masters Ben Loaker (Numplumz) reversed the roles from round one and took a close win; just one second separating him from second placed Matt Carter (Epping Hard Cru).
The Veterans race saw Jef Sharp (Ben Hayward Cycles) move into pole position, with Steve Jones (AW Cycles) and Bren Divall (Brixton Cycles) second and third, in a re-run of round one.
In the SuperMaster women’s race, Jackie Roberts (Beyond MTB) had a scare when Nicky Hughes (Activ) turned up on a Specialized Enduro Pro. It wasn’t that Jackie didn’t like Nicky’s new bike – more the case that she couldn’t overtake on the first lap, despite being on a bike more than six pounds lighter! Finally Jackie did make it through for the win, with Nicky an incredible second.
After an incredible day of racing the series is shaping up. Make sure you get to round three on 12 March 12, where the sun will hopefully make a welcome return, and Heath Warren serves up another classic course for some fast and furious racing.