Climbs and descents are key at Shouldham Warren mountain bike races
It was the climbs and descents that tested competitor's legs to the limit in the final round of the Revel Outdoors Winter Series mountain bike races, writes Fergus Muir.
On a day of almost continuous sunshine nearly 300 competitors enjoyed fast and dry conditions on Shouldham Warren, a sandy and gravelly hill on the edge of the Fens near Downham Market.
The former heath and warren has been under tree cover for much longer than Thetford Forest and the edges of old quarry excavations are now well rounded and offer sweeping rather than precipitous routes.
In the Veteran’s 90-Minute race Chris Hunter of the HKR team completed the four-race series in style by finally getting on the top step of podium after a close duel with Paul Groombridge, winner of the first two rounds. The pair were together for three of the four laps but then – as Groombridge described it “Chris just rode away from me”
Also on that last lap Jimmy Piper (Renvale RT) slipped past Groombridge into second spot. Next places in this 107 rider category went to Craig Gunnell, Nick Ainsworth and Andy Sampson.
However the Series win in this class still goes to Paul Groombridge, with Hunter second and Ben Findlay third.
In the corresponding Veteran Women’s race at Shouldham Andy Sampson’s wife Laura (Sussed Out) was clear winner and actually overhauled her younger teammate Elvita Branch who was Senior winner (age 18-39).
The Youth (Under 16) race was perhaps the tightest of all with Oliver Brinkley leading Josh Boyer (Ipswich BC) at first but Boyer getting back and the pair starting their final lap together.
At the finish Boyer got the win – which left the two boys on equal points in the Series – which was awarded to Boyer as winner of the final race. Mollie Bilner (Stowmarket & Dist) was girl’s winner.
The Three-Hour races did not get off to a good start with a collision at the front taking out Paul Ashby and King’s Lynn MTB clubmate Dave Penny.
This unfortunately happened on a fast downhill straight where speeds were at the top end of those usual in an MTB race and there was a considerable pile-up.
The Vets Three-Hour win eventually went to Tim Plimmer with James Murphy of HKR second.
As the Thee-Hour race settled down Andy Cockburn (Newdales/Giant) and Seb Herrod (Rotor) gradually established a very large lead on the rest of the field– in a repeat of the Shouldham race a year ago. A
nd once again Cockburn eventually took a solo win, though this year Herrod was much closer – finishing only just over a minute behind.
Ryan Henry was winner of the 90-Minute Senior Men’s race with Tom Knight second. Matt Eley – whose garage sponsors of the Ely & District club – overtook Will Dorsett on the final lap to claim the third step of the race podium. Dorsett however was soon sampling the top step – at the Series Prize Presentation that ended the day.
The top ten in the Shouldham race also included former MTB pro Ross Tricker (Seventh), Duncan Ryan (eighth and first LCUK finisher) and Stoke Ferry rider Chris Harley, manager of the HKR team (tenth).
With the Winter Series just wrapped up, competitive mountain bikers are in action again on Sunday at the opening round of the Mud, Sweat & Gears summer league – with the first race at the Olympic legacy course on Thameside.
More than 120 riders from far and wide took part in the third annual Mille Maglia cyclo-cross-style sportive based near Bury St Edmunds and, taking in roads and tracks on 50, 75 and 100 kilometre routes.
Everyone seemed to agree that the event was a great success. Even the rider who commented on Facebook: “Boy, did my bike need a clean afterwards.”
This Sunday the Godric CC 50 mile reliability trial is based at Ditchingham Village Hall. See the Godric Facebook page for details.