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Shred National Trust blog: Sherwood Pines racing

First outing for new Shred National Trust team kit

 

There’s nothing more annoying than being somewhere cold and grey and your team mates telling you how hot and sunny it is back home.

Unfortunately this was the case at round one of the British Mountain Bike Series at Sherwood Pines. Whilst we were freezing our extremities off, and trying to find extra items of cycling kit to wear under our clothes, our team mate Angie Pike was winning the first round of the local road criterium series in blazing sunshine and fellow female rider Deb Hancock was donning the new Shred National Trust skinsuit to ride into first place in a local 25mile TT.

We’d picked up a new team wagon just a day before the race so no better way to run it in than an 700mile round trip to Sherwood Pines, 5 riders onboard to compete in what should be the easiest British XC race of the year (because it is flat) but always turns out to the toughest race of the year because it is really fast, really busy and generally pretty hard to overtake anyone. Our home races are always a festival of steep climbs, steep descents and plenty of technical stuff so Sherwood is not really our bag but to miss it would be like not starting the season properly.

This year’s instalment was no exception, with a bone dry course, even in the dark woods, it was going to be a real leg breaker. Sherwood Pines is an awesome venue for a bike race, despite getting a bit of a bad rap from the baggy short wearers it has some pretty technical riding which gets even harder when you add in the fact that you need to keep the bike in the big chainring from start to finish to have any chance of finishing halfway down the field.

It is also a magnet for people right across the region to either turn up and ride their bikes around the woods or watch the race action. With miles of trails there’s no shortage of riding and whilst it wouldn’t normally be on our radar for a destination to go riding it does show that you can build something for all abilities and people will travel for miles to ride there.

OK time for a little rant. Entry at this event was full, it was full ages ago and this means that a lot of decent riders couldn’t get a ride. There was quite a bit of finger pointing at Martyn Salt, event organiser, for not letting more people ride but when you think about the fact that at least another 100 riders would probably have ridden and he would have made another £3000 or so it shows a fair bit of integrity on his part for turning them away.

With 500 odd riders lining up to race across the day the track was already pretty rammed but there weren’t really any major bottlenecks and the race flowed pretty much as it should. It just about worked which is the best you can hope for on a tight circuit that has to stick to some kind of UCI guidelines. If you spend a winter training, 000s of pounds on a new bike and time organising sponsors and team kit then you are setting yourself up for a massive letdown if you don’t get your entries in early, it’s that simple. Dalby is in three weeks, you should have already entered!

So how did the race go? Well some Rabobank riders turned up from Europe and stole the show in Elite, Oli Beckingsale in his new Endura/Look kit had a decent ride for third, Annie Last rode a cracking 5 lap lead out for Specialized rider Lene Byberg who rode away from her at the end.

Back in the Shred National Trust camp, despite 20 years of mountain biking practice, I managed to fall off twice going around some trees on the flat and just about scraped in half way down the sport field, the rest of the Shred National Trust crew had some half decent rides, best ride of the day from vet rider Garry Pike who got 13th place but more importantly managed to beat our outspoken south west rivals team Certini so a good job done.

Our objective for 2011 was simple, to really enjoy racing our bikes, give out a load of Shred Mags at each event and hopefully tell a few people about the work that the National Trust are doing down in the South West to build a couple of new trail centres and get more people onto bikes. We’ll bring you some more info on that in a future feature.

The British XC caravan moves on Dalby in Yorkshire for round two on 17 April, more our kind of thing, but we’ll bring you a blog update from round one of the South West’s new RaceFace Circus of Dirt  Series on 10th April.

Don’t forget you can read Shred Magazine for more XC mountain biking type stuff at www.shredmagazine.com

If you want some proper results check out www.timelaps.co.uk

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