While thousands pounded the streets of London, several hundred more decided to head for the trails on two wheels instead, getting their competitive fix at the final round of the ever popular Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series, run by the friendly Gorrick folk.
Words & images Joolze Dymond
With Deepcut Green waterlogged the start was moved onto Porridge Pot Hill and the course adjusted to take in the brilliant whoops down to the canal turn and taking out some of the more tricky climbs. With everything to play for to tie up the overall category podium, the racing was set to be fast and furious right from the start.
Round 5 took riders on a roller coaster ride around the fun venue that is Porridge Pot Hill, delivering a course that combined a plethora of testing climbs with fast descents that twisted and turned, dashed and dived over a 4.8 mile circuit that circled the arena giving spectators plenty of opportunities to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the race, as it burst into view.
Despite the biblical downpours in the area over the days running up to the event, the trails were incredibly dry, offering only a few muddy puddles to splash through, mud tyres were definitely relegated to the bottom of the pile for this race.
A full day’s racing got under way at 9am with the youth riders leading the way. A spring like feel to the air, blue skies and a gentle warm sun helped set the scene for a great day in the saddle, only the occasional puddle reminded riders of the preceding days rainfall. Will Taylor made it a clean sweep in the youth race taking his 4th win to take the series comfortably.
Another rider dominating his category was juvenile Matthew Fratesi who also scored his 4th consecutive win to take the series. In the Masters women race Emily Iredale took the win giving her 3 wins out of 4 helping her to the series win, while in the Master male race the series was wide open. A tough battled ensued with the top 5 finishers all coming home within a minute of eventual winner Dennis Lisbygd, who pipped Paul Wellicome to the line.
Meanwhile Ollie Taylor fought hard to take 4th giving him enough to take the series overall. There was nothing to separate the Open women leaders Kym Harvey and Jo Scott, the winner on the day was J. Thomson with Harvey & Scott taking the final podium positions. After a long series the two tied equally on points with Harvey taking the top step with her second spot in the final round the ultimate decider. James Braid ended the Spring Series as he started it in the Open men’s race with a win, with second placed rider Ash James doing more than enough to take the overall series. With 3 consistent top 3 finishes in the senior Vet male race Dennis Boltwood hoped to wrap up the series, with a win.
However Andy Smith made him fight to the line, eventually denying him the win, but leaving him to enjoy the overall series win instead.
Super Master’s saw another full on battle with everything to play for. This race over the series has seen a different winner every round and this final race was no different. Chasing that top spot and with it points were Paul Lloyd, Werner Van Der Merwe, Rob Purcell and current series leader Nick Onslow.
After 4 hard fought laps it was Lloyd who took the win from Van Der Merwe, but Onslow coming home in 4th had enough in the bank to take the overall win. Over the last 3 rounds the Super Vets race has been a full on battle and this time the honour went to Brian Macpherson after an epic battle played out with Rick Fetherston and Jon Hayes. However with 3 straight wins under his belt the overall series win went to Lewis King.
In the Grand Vets Dennis Dix took the win from Ian Petherbridge, but Petherbridge racked up enough points over the series to take the overall win. While Viv Hazelton took her 3rd straight win to take the series too boot in the Grand vet women’s race, leading home Louise Parker and Amanda Morwood.
Sarah Whelan made it 3 wins out of 4 in the women’s vet race; giving her the series win along the way. While Jon Pierce underlined his status as series leader, by adding a fourth win to his tally, making it a clean sweep in the vets race for him. In a bustling fun race Rob Wilson delivered the goods over two laps taking a comfortable win over Simon North, with Charlotte Lusby blasting out a quick lap to take the Fun women’s race.
Midway through the expert and sport races the clouds really threatened to turn things nasty but passed with just a few drops of rain, leaving the going fast and slick for the riders. Jo Munden sped through her 3 laps trying to doge the occasional raindrops, racked up her 3rd win of the series in the sport women’s race but it was Leona Kadir who took the prize for the overall series, her final second spot giving her enough points to score that victory.
The sports men’s race featured another dingdong battle between Martin Turton and Isaac Pucci, but it was Turton who made the break on the final lap to take the win, sewing up the overall series along the way. Fay Cripps made short work of the expert women’s race taking the win from Louise Robinson, who consoled herself with the series win, with her 4 consistent top 2 finishes. In the expert men’s race Mike Cotty opened up proceedings with a blistering 16min 10 sec lap, leaving the rest of the field in chase mode.
Over the final 4 laps Cotty continued pushing out the fastest laps spreading his winning margin over Ben Marks to 55 secs. However it was Chris Minter finishing in 4th who took home the prize as series winner. Cotty later commented on being amazed that the course had drained so well after the weeks rain when he had been expecting a mud fest
That wraps it up for XC racing from the Gorrick folk, until the Autumn Classics, and Gorrick would like to pass on their thanks to all their generous local bike shop sponsors and to all the riders who took part in the Series. But not to worry, there are some cracking enduro races waiting in the wings. First up in just a couple of weeks, will see the popular Exposure 100 take place on the 6th May at Swinley Forest.
Then there’s the ACU’s challenging Are you Tough Enough? At Porridge Pot Hill on 15 July. If you fancy something with a bit more of a party atmosphere well there’s always the Torq in Your Sleep 12 hr enduro on August 26th Bank Holiday weekend. For lots more info on upcoming events, online entry plus full race results please head over to: www.gorrick.com
All images – www.joolzedymond.com