What a way to end a successful series! Views, sun, tough competition, old school course that certainly offered to put the mountain back into mountain biking and of course beers and burgers. The 4th and final round of the popular Nutcracker XC Series had it all.
Fremington was almost definitely the place to be this weekend, with hosts Dales Bike Centre providing the Nutcracker crew with an excellent race headquarters while the competitors could fuel up on the legendary cake and coffee available in the café.
Nestled in the magnificent Swaledale valley, North Yorkshire, Fremington offered a technical course with a lung busting amount of climbing with the infamous ‘Grind’ more than living up to its name attracting riders from near and far - the furthest coming from New Zealand.
The future racing stars started proceedings with the popular Sweat monsters children’s racing kicking off at 12pm. Tons of youngsters enjoyed a competitive blast on their own special course while the more mature competitors had chance to get a taste of North Yorkshire MTB racing at its best.
Come 2.00pm and the entire race headed en mass to the foot of Fremington Edge where they were set of in their respective categories in 1 minute waves. Ahead lay an 8km course packed to the gunnels with enough mountain biking fun that should have ensured a permanent grin.
However coming to grips pretty much early on with a tricky slog to the top of the moors, crossing fields over broken sections of dry stone walls across thick carpet like grass which sucked every ounce of strength you may have had in reserve may have not been to everyone’s taste but the views and the sense of achievement when you got to the top had to be immense.
As you bettered the Grind a swift turn right and you were greeted by a swath of dazzling purple heather on a racy, rocky strewn descent that took you around the edge of the Grouse Moor leading to the alien landscape of the old lead works, while bemused sheep looked on.
The old lead working provided a contrast in terrain with the rough tracks replaced by loose gravel mounds and craters that undulated in a roller coaster way delivering you to the very edge of the world. With the stunning vista of the Swaledale valley laid out before you, you had but a split second to appreciate the view before hurtling into the abyss taking you back down to the hill snaking your way back to the beginning to start another lap.
The first man to crest the top leading a well strung out field was master rider Tony Fawcett. Taking the climbing in his stride Fawcett held his lead virtually unchallenged for 3 tough laps while the race splintered into its own pockets of race categories behind him.
Female master winner Jane Chadwick suffering from mechanical problems ploughed on using the tough course as useful preparations for the World Singlespeed Champs in Ireland in a week’s time! Elite rider Calum Chamberlain completed 4 laps reviling in the fantastic conditions to take the win, with local elite woman Jess Roberts grinning her way to a well earned and hard raced win in her race.
It was great to see newly crowned junior female champion Beth Crumpton wearing her jersey with pride as she tackled the Yorkshire grit for 2 tough laps with Jack Humphries holding off the tough competition in the junior men’s race to take the win from Richard Johnson.
The whole day saw riders tough it out, racking up the laps in their respective race with one thing on their mind - finishing! Waiting to welcome them was beer and burgers as promised, which were all well deserved and all eagerly consumed while waiting for the results. A truly great end to a great series!
For full results and to check what the Nutcracker boys have up their sleeves for next year check out www.nutcrackermtb.co.uk