Mountain Bike Racing in the South West has always been a different type of racing than you’ll find anywhere else in the UK. With very few large expanses of raceable terrain organisers are left making the best out of the large numbers of steep sided, heavily forested valleys.
This is not particularly good if you are the kind of rider that likes tracks like Sherwood Pines (i.e flat and fast) but it generally delivers a race experience that requires you to wrestle your bike around every single element of the track. This is what we call ‘proper’ racing.
Round One of the new RaceFace Circus of Dirt series was no exception. Hustyns Wood, just outside the small Cornish town of Wadebridge, had never been used for a mountain bike race before but had all the essential ingredients of a short but tough XC course.
Just a 3.9 mile lap but taking somewhere in the region of 20minutes per lap with short sharp climbs and heaps of flowing singletrack that required total concentration, we were in Rick Stein country so it was kind of fitting that the C-O-D would leave the Shred National Trust team well and truly battered!
Shred National Trust had a depleted field of riders before the bikes even came out of the van. Junior rider James Birch out with a lingering dose of manfluenza and myself juggling some time as the morning’s commentator with a poor attempt at racing that would leave me with a whole bunch of bruises and a destroyed bike after just two of the four laps.
This left race duties down to veteran riders Simon Young (finished 2nd place), Brendan Murphy (4th place) and Garry Pike who came in 6th after repairing a snapped chain mid-race. None of the team could match the might of our team’s nemesis Pete Dawe (Southfork racing) who demolished the veteran field… again.
For a small local race the Elite field was pretty respectable with many riders coming from outside of the area, our own Luke Eggar manhandled his Trek 29er bike around the track into fourth place.
This event was a great opportunity to leave Plymouth and turn south for a change, what we got was a reminder that mountain bike racing can be everything we dreamed of when we started racing bike, tough and physically demanding but also a massive amount of fun. What it lacked in glamour over the bigger national events it made up for in true grit.
The team is now repairing their bikes and bodies and looking forward to Round Two of the British XC series at Dalby Forest next weekend. More information on that at www.britishxc.com
We return to racing in the RaceFace Circus of Dirt series at Newnham Park, on May 1st. Online entry is open for this event at www.shredevents.com.