Blue skies and over 400 racers made for a superb first round of the Exodus Spring Series at Crowthorne Woods.
The four mile course was packed full of singletrack – from fast and flowing to the technical corkscrew. Although there were no long hills, there were plenty of short sharp climbs which kept riders on their toes throughout.
Celebrating ten years of Gorrick’s Spring Series meant even more prizes, the top one from series sponsors Exodus. The name drawn from all riders to win a holiday was none other than World Solo 24 Hour Championships runner-up Jenn O’Connor.
www.bumpybikes.com also presented a prize to the fastest lap in a set race. Today it was the Veterans and David Nelson who took home £50.
It wasn’t just racers who were out in force though, as Mark Payne took to the course throughout the day in a bid to complete as many laps as possible raising money for the Tsunami Appeal. He completed a superb ten laps and more importantly, raised lots of cash for a great cause.
Thanks to the massive number of competitors every race was hard fought, with all riders hoping to get off to the best possible start in 2005.
Jay Spetch pulled out a steady lead over Callum Chamberlain (Mountain Trax) to win the Youth race.
The Supermasters saw a 28 strong field, but it was clear from the off who were the top dogs. Darren Shepherd (Tri-UK) and Simon Willats (Ride Cycleworks) pulled clear and battled it out over four laps. In the end Shepherd’s experience paid dividends as he came over the line just nine seconds ahead of Willats. Paul Lasenby (Marin) continued his comeback with a third place – three minutes down on the top two.
With last years top riders Kerry Scotson and Michael Jackson up to the Supermasters, Masters was wide open. James Lett (De Laune) rode to victory 38 seconds clear of Andrew Van Der Merwe (ProChorus), with Colin Dixon in third.
It was a Beyond Mountain Bikes one-two in the Veterans race with David Nelson and Sam Phillips building a two minute lead over third placed Steve Farmer (PedalOn).
In the Grand Veterans Norman Butler (BikeGuatemala.com) came home first ahead of Stuart Gough (Portswood Cycles) and Bob Moore (VC Muedon).
With 67 Open racers on the line, a good start was crucial. Tom Smart (Activ/VC Deal) got off to a flyer with a 22 minute lap, but persistence paid off for eventual winner Ian Grist (Dysons Cycles) as he reeled Smart in, who paid for his early exertions. Gareth Jones (ladies Who Lunch) and Oliver Pepper were second and third respectively.
It was another superb turnout in the Sport race that saw 54 riders in perhaps the closest race of the day. Just 12 minutes separated the top 23 riders by the end, headed by Grant Leavy (Swansea Wheelers). Neil Macleod (Sigma Sport) was second followed by Tim Morris (Swindon RC).
In the Expert/Elite race all of the big guns were out for a cash prize and to see if their winter training had paid off. Things were close between John Veness (Evans Cycles) and Robert Enslin (VinerBikes.com), but on the final lap Veness pulled clear to take the victory. Steve Hambling (Activ) came third.
Five riders lined up in the women’s Expert/Elite race. Jenn O’Connor (Specialized) went off the line followed only by Rebecca Webb who put in a superb effort to stay in the hunt for over two laps before O’Connor broke for the line, taking most of the men’s Sport field with her. Webb rolled in just a minute later, followed by Jackie Roberts (Beyond Mountain Bikes).
In the other women’s races Nicky Hughes (Team Walton) won the Supermasters, Theresa Jordan (CC Luton) took the Master/Veteran race and Viv Hazelton (Beyond Mountain Bikes) beat 11 other Open women.
At the start of 2005 Gorrick promised a superb 2005 for it’s tenth year of racing and they didn’t disappoint. Even the weather was on their side. A great course to kick off the Exodus Spring Series which will continue on February 20th at Heath Warren.