Pic: Joolze Dymond
With the clocks going forward on the weekend and over 500 riders rolling up to take part in the latest round of the Gorrick Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series, you could definitely say that Spring has really sprung! The sun even came out to welcome riders from near and far as they got stuck into a really challenging course. Porridgepot Hill was the venue of choice for this latest round and offered riders a fast blast around tight, twisting singletrack, interspersed by leg burning lung busting climbs. One in particular, the aptly named Hecklers’ Hill, was a favourite with spectators as they cheered on the competitors as they groaned and grunted their way to the top.
Once more, with the National XC series just around the corner the ranks of riders were swelled with competitors keen to check their progress against their peers, as well as loads of new faces just keen to get out and enjoy the weather and checking out what all this racing malarkey is all about!
Series sponsors Saddle Skedaddle upped the ante by offering two free holidays to be given away in their random rider prize draw – once more riders had more to race for than just first past the finishing line. The men’s Sport race was first to be selected for the random draw and proved to be another outstanding race. All the major contenders were in the thick of the action, recording an opening lap of under a mind blowing 15 minutes. Four laps later and after a few reshuffles in the order of riders it was Martin Delves who proved he had the stamina to outwit the others. Junior Orange Monkey Nat Jarvis has obviously upped his output and his focus as he rode a blinding race to cruise into second spot just 35s adrift, leaving Duane Stander to pick up third a further 24s down. Previous round winner and still a youth rider. Max Sykes took 4th. The next best prize after the win of course was the free holiday and that honour went to tenth-placed Craig Dolwin.
Maxine Filby took on Master lady Caroline Goward and with a fast first lap took the lead. She seemed to be paying for her early efforts as the three lap race progressed, but she narrowly held on to her lead to take the win by just 17secs from a consistent Goward. Briony Croft, fresh from her downhill and XC successes at the recent BUCS Championships, came in to take third.
The open men’s race saw yet again a massive field of riders and the competition was fierce as anticipated. BUCS Sport race winner Matt Treviss had his work cut out for him as Max Filleul took off like a scalded cat opening up a 30s lead on lap one. He steadily increased this throughout the three lap race to finally take the win in just over 48 mins. Treviss had to be content with 2nd with Robert McCarthy picking up 3rd.
Luckiest lady of the day had to be Natasha Litherland, who not only secured third spot in the Open race but also went home with a free holiday, a great reward for some stiff racing. Natalia Wase was the lady that took the win, ahead of Hannah Reynolds.
The men’s Masters race has to rank as one of the hardest fought of the whole series with a number of riders evenly matched, each vying for that top spot. R4 was no exception, with a miniscule 10s separating the top three riders. Lee Gollop took his second win of the series, narrowly beating Ollie Taylor into second after a hard fought race which saw Gallop charge from behind in the closing stages. Singlespeeding Steve Webb cranked in for third, just 9s adrift. Kim Hurst continued her clean sweep of the series scorching round the two lap race in under 38 mins to take her fourth win, while Jo Munden took second ahead of Fran Mundy.
Travelling up from the wilds of Plymouth, Maddie Horton beaming the whole way round took a convincing win in the expert women from a slightly overhung Gemma Collins, who had been out celebrating her 30th birthday the previous night!
Another nailbiting race quickly unfolded in the expert men’s race. With an opening lap of less than 14 mins, this would see the five lap race finished in a rip roaring 73mins! Straight from the start it was easy to see that this would be a gladiatorial battle between Gareth Montgomerie and Adrian Lansley, with only junior Steven James able to stick to their wheels on the opening gambit. By lap two the ding-dong battle was well underway, with Montgomerie taking the lead. By lap three this had been reversed, with Lansley once more in the driving seat. Meanwhile youngster James started to find the pace a little high and started to fade, leaving Stuart Bowers to take up the slack and slip into third. Lansley continued heading the expert train right to the line, with Montgomerie taking second with just a slipped second between them. Bowers took third while James held on to take a well-earned fourth.
Sam Gardner, National Masters Champion, famous not only for his excursions into Xterra racing but also for championing compression socks, was lined up for a what turned out to be a tense battle in the Super Masters and again saw the top competitors separated by mere seconds. Mark Hutt led the foray into the singletrack closely followed by Gardner, Stephen James and Nick Onslow. Nothing but a cats whisker separated these four riders throughout the four lap race, but in the end it was Hutt who took the gold, seconds ahead of Gardner, whilst James pipped Onslow into third just a few more seconds adrift.s
It was a hot days racing despite the chilly temperatures, with each race throwing up its own battles and nail biting finishes. The final round moves from the advertised Ash Common and now returns to the popular Tunnel Hill, where we’ll see the final outcomes be played out, should make for yet another great day’s racing. See you there on 19 April!
Results and series details can be found at www.gorrick.com