The courses for the first two rounds of the Soggy Bottom XC race series were (unusually for the time of year) blessed with dry conditions, meaning some very fast racing and impressive lap times from the fast riders. However, a serious amount of rain over the New Year period gave Round 3 the mud it needed to live up to the Soggy Bottom title. And to ensure that everybody knew that they’d consumed too many mince pies and turkey over Christmas, the course was packed with a lot of climbing.
The very beginning of the course took riders up an incredibly steep incline, with some loose surface near the top adding an extra challenge to the already over-worked riders. Levelling out, the course began winding its way clockwise around Newnham Park, mixing up the classic singletrack with some newly carved sections. The new off-camber descent proved challenging for all riders, with a twist and wiggle through a couple of trees and over a stump.
Taking the lead from the beginning in the super-fast expert class was Jonathan Locke (Mid Devon CC). Regular winner Peter Hawkins (Bigpeaks.com) was hot on his wheel for the first lap, but two punctures cost him dearly. With the resulting gap just too big to bridge he finished in fourth place, nearly nine minutes behind. Jason Flooks (Certini) and Martin Smith (Team Milton Keynes) battled closely on every lap, finishing second and third respectively.
Robert Smail and James Spragg (Bikinmotion) took it on turns to lead the Sport race for the first few laps, until a broken chain took James Spragg out of the race. Chris Cowling (AC Cowling Repairs) chased hard to finish in second, only two hundredths of a second back. Matt Loake rounded off the top three.
The Masters class is easily the most popular of all the adult classes, and this is lending itself to some top quality racing. The time covering the top six or seven riders is extremely close. Darren Shepard (Tri-UK) eventually pulled out a two minute lead from second placed Pete Dawe. Shred/Cove top rider Andy Carnell was another minute back in third place.
Proving that age doesn’t slow you down the Veterans and Grand Veterans fought hard and fast for the top spots. Two Mid Devon Cycling Club riders took the wins in both categories, Neil Tubbs in the Veterans and Mike Parker in the Grand Veterans.Race one results: http://www.justride.co.uk/images/sg/rd3/SB_results_31.xls Race two results: http://www.justride.co.uk/images/sg/rd3/SB_results_32.xls Photos from Simon Kirk: http://www.pbase.com/simonkirk/round_3 More from Team JustRide: http://www.justride.co.uk