National MTB XC Round 1 Results & Rider Reports
SUNDAY 24TH MARCH 2013 // Sherwood Pines, Nottinghamshire.
The first round of the national mountain bike series took place this weekend in Sherwood Pines. Deep snow and freezing temperatures faced the riders who had to deal with cassettes freezing and melting snow creating extremely cold muddy conditions!
– Dan Tulett won the U14’s by nearly 4 minutes!
– Steve James was 13th Elite and 3rd Under 23 in a high quality field
– Beth Crumpton posted an excellent 4th place in elite woman (pictured below).
– Crispin Doyle finished 8th in the Vets category.
Here’s what Beth had to say about the weekend..
“I can’t say I have ever experienced a bike race in so much snow and freezing temperatures as I did this weekend. An early morning start saturday morning meant we experienced gusty winds and snow drifts on top of the m62, but made it to Sherwood Pines in one piece without getting stuck and got out for course practice wrapped up in lots of layers.
The verdict was lots of snow, mud and single track, opting for my Schwalbe UK Rocket Rons tyres.
Race day and another early morning of a 6am wake up, can’t say I’ve missed these early morning get ups over the winter but it had to be done in order to eat the most important meal of the day.. Breakfast.
Overnight it had continued to snow and was going to make for some interesting slidy race conditions. I was excited for my first elite race, starting in a field of 30 women at a national race was brilliant and seeing how my new bike operated on the race course! With my new race colours on and wrapped up warm I headed to the start line to begin my elite career in extreme condition. Starting on the back row and a shocking start didn’t bide well to get to the front of the race as the first part of the course was all single track, so I kept picking off places where I could with girls making mistakes and making efforts on the fire road to move up the field before settling into 5th by the end of lap 1. I was able to maintain this position until Annie Last dropped out due to injury and continued in 4th spot for the last 2 laps out of 4. The conditions were hard and slogging, the mud was sticking to the bike and began to freeze, making the bikes a bit heavier than pre-race. It was one of the hardest going mountain bike races i’ve done in a while, but I was happy with how I was going on the back of an injury and happy with my result of 4th place, coming away with some prize money and most importantly UCI points in prep for gridding in this seasons racing!
With that result, i’m looking forward to cracking on with the rest of the season!”
So how did the first round go for Steve James?
“Sherwood forest is the standard first round for the national series, normally we are greeted with sun and hot temperatures, last year was a wonderful 20 degree and dusty. This year as you may have gathered was not the same! We arrived after a long journey to -5 and a good 6 inches of snow.
The practice lap revealed what I had feared! A bog of ice cold mud and snow strung between sections of slush/ice fire roads.
A 3.4 mile lap was estimated to take 15-16 minutes in the dry, I was pushing to get a 20 minute lap in the conditions. All in all there was a lot of excitement around the venue given the horrendous weather.
I had in my mind how bad I thought the conditions were going to be, but I was so wrong! The first 2 laps were nothing too bad, very slow in the mud and it was cutting up badly but the bikes weren’t suffering too much and the lap times remained ok. As the race wore on however, something changed. I think it was just the amount of riders going over the surface but all of a sudden it seemed to change into basically wet concrete! My cassette became a block of ice/mud and reduced me to maybe 3 gears that didn’t jump, my bike nearly quadrupled its weight and everything became harder. Everyone’s lap times were plummeting and gaps became unbridgeable it seemed! Having spent most of the race just inside the top 10 the conditions started to wear me down and the effect on my gears reduced my speed on the faster sections which slowed me down. Ending up 16th Elite and 3rd Under 23 in the first real race of the year in the extreme conditions is not something I’m upset about, I’m pleased with how my legs felt for most of the race which is the important thing for the rest of the season!
All in all I am certainly ready to move on to the rest of this season in this “summer” sport!”
Finally, Crispin’s experience in the vets category..
“Yesterday was the 1st round of the National XC series at Sherwood Pines. There’s been plenty said about the weather already so I won’t go on about them, except to say that a few inches of snow on the course made for fun practice laps on Saturday, an emotional experience for anybody (fool)hardy enough to camp overnight and some really challenging conditions for all three races on Sunday.
For race 1, starting at 9.30, the ground was still frozen but cut up and rutted from the previous day, for the Elites’ race at 12, the surface had thawed considerably and the place turned into a mudfest.
By the time we (Vets and Masters) were off, the course was well cut up but the temperature was beginning to drop again. As it was my first season in the Vet class, I had a low grid position, this meant that I spend a good part of the first lap waiting behind people in the extensive singletrack sections, until we hit the few bits of fireroad which provided ovetrtaking opportunities. The course was still sloppy but after the first lap, the air temperature plummeted from a balmy 3 or 4 C to just below zero. All that lovely soft mud began to solidify, making the going even harder, plus it froze onto the bike. My progress through the field slowed and I spent the last lap just concentrating on getting round in one piece.
I’m pretty happy with my position, 8th considering I was gridded 34th, bodes well for the rest of the season I think!”
Here’s hoping for a warmer round 2!