With Christmas just round the corner who’d have thought that we’d see hundreds of riders decked in shorts and jersey’s enjoying a warm winter blast around the cheeky trails at Porridgepot Hill as the opening round of the popular Merida Brass Monkey’s Enduro series got underway.
Despite the overcast skies as the morning light broke, weather forecasters got it right when they said blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures would be a dominant feature of the day and the Gorrick crew also got their predictions right too when they said you’d have a whole load of fun.
They came from all over the UK, lured by tales of carefully selected trails and singletrack that would thread them effortlessly around MOD land, (which paid careful attention to miss out the firing range!). This course had everything you could want for a grin induced romp in the woods, including a whole collection of whoops and drops that encouraged riders to rush around each lap shouting again, again!
First out in the sell out event, at the stroke of 10.30am were the 4hr crew, headed by experienced elite rider Tim Dunford. As they hit the first singletrack section the race quickly fragmented, leaving pockets of riders endlessly chasing, jostling for prime positions. Eager to keep the Cannondale rider Dunford close in their sights were the chasing pack, including youngsters Josh Ibbett and Luke Eggar, but despite all their efforts Dunford had the race in the palm of his hand from the off taking the win with 7 laps under his belt and a healthy 13min lead.
All the action was now unfolding behind him as the race was on for the runner up positions. Eggar dropped like a stone on lap 5 due to a mechanical leaving Ibbett out alone riding for second, just fending off the advances of Marc Chamberlain, the only other rider to top 7 laps. In the ever-competitive vets 4 hr race it was seasoned endurance athlete Anthony White who took the honours racking up 6 laps, finishing over 12mins ahead of Nik Pullen.
In the women’s 4 hr there was a tight battle between Jo Munden and Vet Jane Cumming. Both ladies racked up an impressive 6 laps, with both winning their respective categories and both were relieved to finally finish 4 hrs and 30 mins after they started.
For the senior 2 race, local riders George Budd and Scott Forbes locked horns as they went head to head for the win. After 4 fast laps the final decision came down to a sprint with Budd narrowly edging out Forbes for the win. Louise Robinson held off Verity Appleyard over 3 laps to take the 2hr women’s race, while in the vets category Katherine Willoughby made the decisive move on the second lap to move into the lead ahead of Louise Parker, to take the win.
In the men’s vet race it was Dean Morgan who was the man to beat as he clocked up 4 laps, with just 139 secs separating him from Mark Hutt. Finally junior rider Martin Turton churned out 4 laps to take his race by a clear lap, ahead of William Spiers who decided 3 were enough as he crossed the line just after the cut off.
Thanks for the fantastic continued support of title sponsor Merida UK, who tempted the riders with a whole raft of demo bling. Not forgetting all the brilliant support from Sram, Mule Bar, Nomad, Kenda, Four4th Lights & 1st Gear Cycles, who handed out a cracking selection of spot prizes, meaning once again everyone was a potential winner!
Many thanks also to everyone who came and rode and liked what they saw, see you again for Round 2 on the 18th December for the Christmas Cracker at Tunnel Hill.
For lots more info about this cracking series head on over to www.meridabrassmonkeys.com
Words and images Joolze Dymond.