Well what a cracking if not muddy start to a fabulous new year. Events up and down the country attracting hundreds of riders who turned out despite some pretty horrendous weather forecasts, but there seemed to be a distinct window of weather opportunity and everyone took no second asking and as a result trails were flooded with mountain bikers up and down the country.
Meanwhile, over in Yateley Heath Woods, Surrey, well over 600 riders; young, old, new and experienced took part in the first part of the Saddle Skedaddle Gorrick Spring Series. In fact, so many riders turned up that the organisers ran out of entry forms!
By 9.00am the racing was underway and from then on it was almost a conveyor belt of competitors as wave after wave of trail hungry riders were launched out onto the muddy 5 mile course. Yateley Heath boasts some of the fastest flowing trails with very little climbing; this should have been a gentle introduction to some of the tougher courses to come.
However, the great old British weather scuppered things a bit, with torrential rain the previous night turning some of the tricky sections into even trickier sections. As the first batch of riders made their way round it was soon clear that the ‘fast’ flowing trails had become a little sluggish, prompting the organisers to take the decision to cut a chunk of the worst affected bits out, leaving a fun filled moist 3.5 miles.
Over the day a huge 22 categories were fought over, with riders of all abilities having a go. There was even a great turn out of women, including the newly formed Dirt Diva’s keen to get out there and get muddy with the best.
A superb 81 riders lined up in the Vets race to prove that age is just a number and over 3 laps the race was decided from the front as Steve Jones relishing the local trails blasted from the gun and never looked back, leaving Mart Smith to pick up 2nd and Daran Blackwell came through to snatch 3rd, while Jackie Roberts scooped the women’s vet race.
109 riders decided it would be fun, and that’s exactly the class they opted for, riding 2 laps for the men and 1 lap for the ladies. Tim Kemp was the man to beat, starting out pretty fast on his first lap, opening up a good gap, which was fortunate as he began to slow in his 2nd lap. However, he’d done enough to take the win, with four riders close behind fighting it out for the remaining positions. Matt Wigley had the edge over Steven James who in turn narrowly edged out Phil Hill for 3rd. Alison Linnell led home the ladies to take a comfortably win in her 1 lap race.
In the longest race of the day, expert, it was elite rider Gareth Montgomerie who pulled out all the stops over the 5 lap race to take a convincing pre season win. Recording consistent sub 22 min laps throughout, Montgomerie quickly opened up his lead and kept the gas on until he crossed the line despite a strong challenge from Scott Forbes who pushed Montgomerie all the way. He finished a tantalising 31sec adrift to pick up 2nd, while his Pedal On team mate Chris Minter held off Simon Ernest to take 3rd.
One of the best rides of the day had to be by junior rider Steven James, who has only recently moved up from the Youth class. Not content with racing the day before the plucky youngster decided to have a crack at the Expert race, a mere 3 laps longer than he’s been used to. He turned out a fantastic ride, fighting for a top 5 finish all the way round picking up some notable older scalps along the way and despite fading off towards the end of the tough race he managed to pick up 5th which is a brilliant start to what hopefully will be a successful junior year for him.
Another rider who was delighted with his race had to be fun rider James Huggett, he may not have won his race, but his effort just to be out in the thick of the action was amply rewarded by the generous series sponsors Saddle Skedaddle, who picked James’s number as the winner of their Weekend Holiday giveaway! Now if there was ever an incentive to come along and have a go that has to be it!
Full results can be found at www.timelaps.co.uk
If you like getting muddy and you like a challenge plus you want to find out how fit you are in comparison to lots of like minded riders then why not come and give the second round of this exciting series a go. Round 2 n the 8th February moves to Tunnel Hill, a firm favourite with Gorrick regulars, mixing built and natural trails to provide masses of flowing swoopy fun. There’s a mix of heath land and woodland with exciting sections such as the ‘P45’, ‘Abbey View’ and the ‘Banana Split’ to name but a few.
If you enter online now at www.gorrick.com it’ll save you money and queuing time.