It is down to some Sticky Business for Shred Racing riders at Soggy Bottom.
Sunday 18 January, a day that kicked off wet (after a week of wet), soon turned the tables and whilst it was great to see a bit of sunshine it also spelled disaster for the track at Newnham Park which would turn into a sticky quagmire as soon as it started to dry out.
Plymouth’s Shred racing riders in attendance were Sam Whittlesea in elite/expert, Dan Maker, Tom Cann, Gary Jennings and Steve Toze in Masters, Alli Nothcott in Elite/expert womens and Ratboy and Ed Warren in Sport.
From the start it was hammer down with a flat start into tight singletrack that would have been tough on a good day but was even tougher on this day as the singletrack was 3-4 inches deep in mud and reduced the chances of a big gear start to more like a fishtailing low gear clown show.
That aside the course was actually pretty good, 100% rideable – but 100% tough. The flat sections were mud or technical off camber sections, and the rest of the track was either a savage climb or a descent that really demanded going flat out.
In the Shred Racing camp there must have been something in the water and it would be the Masters race where all the action would unfold. Toze knew he’d need a good start so powered it off the line to get into second place at one point but this was short lived. As the old Chinese proverb says, it is much easier to drop back through the standings than it is to try and work your way up through them and with Dan Maker and Gary Jennings close by it was down to work for 4 laps sitting inside the top 10.
Positions changed repeatedly but eventually with the tiredness setting and controlling the bike becoming more of an issue, the end of lap four couldn’t come soon enough, Gary Jennings’ smooth riding in the mud had paid off and he rode to 6th place, with Dan Maker pushing hard to overtake Alltrax rider Gary Pike for 6th place. Steve Toze rolled in a few seconds later for 9th place – three riders in the Masters top ten for Shred Racing meant smiles all round in the team area. Tom Cann came in for 14th place – an awesome ride for the newcomer to mountain biking. The team are still going to have to do some work to catch the likes of race winner Ollie Taylor who stuck a good 10 minutes into them, with Mike Tomlinson and Pete Dawe just trailing him for second and third.
Some good luck and bad luck in other categories for Shred Racing. Sam Whittlesea got a 3rd place in the Elite/Expert class with a strong ride but not quite as strong as Ian Payne (1st) and Newquay boy Matt Loake (2nd), not so lucky was Elite/Expert female rider Alli Northcott who took a nasty collision with a tree on the micro-pipeline and came off worse, limping back to the finish and unable to complete the race, Alli is starting to present herself as a thorn in the side of top national Elite female Maddie Horton (Team Certini) – but not today – and Maddie stormed through 4 laps for a win.
So a day of mixed results and loads of positive feeling in the Shred Racing camp, the riders are now swapping the mountain bikes for road racing for the pre-season Springtime pursuits on 14 Feb in Exeter but looking forward to settling a few scores at the ultimate round of Soggy Bottom on 15 March.
Follow the team at www.shredracing.co.uk or check out the new issue of shred magazine at www.shredmagazine.com