Report: Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series R3 – Crowthorne Woods

There is a new circuit race league based on the Lincolnshire side of the East Midlands region.

Those busy Gorrick folk whipped up another true master chef creation, combining 4 miles of bone dry singletrack, fire road and undulating fun; ducking and a diving, through classic Gorrick territory, with hundreds of riders eager to tuck in on a fine spring day.

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Words and photos Joolze Dymond –

With numbers very nearly topping 600 hundred competitors it was clear to see that riders just can’t get enough of the Gorrick magic and with round 3 taking place in the Gorrick birthplace you knew you probably wouldn’t get better (well not until the next round of course!). For the top boys & girls a whippet quick sub 20 min lap awaited and the racing throughout the day was electric with some stellar performances along the bermed lined way.

The expert men’s race saw an influx of top riders, as the racing season edges ever closer and they want to smooth out the rough edges. In a close fought race where the lead constantly changed hands, we saw Ben Sumner, Jody Crawforth, Luke Smith and Stephen James, to name a few battle it out for prime spot over 5 rapid laps. Sumner but in 3 hard laps keeping in the mix, finally fading off towards the end leaving Crawforth in prime spot, with Smith and Stephens hot on his heels.

With just over 90 mins of racing Crawforth took the race holding off Smith and Stephens who took 2nd and 3rd accordingly while Sumner picked up a hard earned 4th. Louise Robinson, the sole representative of Expert ladies completed her 4 laps in a rapid 98 mins. Fortunately the women’s racing was a lot better represented in most of the other categories with some great performances played out in the dirt. In the master women’s race, R2 winner Emily Iredale had some stiff competition and had to settle for runner up spot over the two lap race with Liz Gilmour propelling herself to the win, while in the fun women’s race Ruth Patchett traded in her round 2 second spot for the top step in round 3.

A similar result could be found in the women’s grand vets with Viv Hazelton taking her first win of the series. Gretal Warner did 1 better, swapping her 3rd spot in the first race for a win in the women’s open race, with a comfortably 4 min cushion to runner up Jo Scott. In the vets race Nicky Hughes sped from the gun, leaving Sarah Whelan to chase hard, but just couldn’t bridge the gap that Hughes then continued to widen over her second lap to finally take the win, while Abigail Van Twisk took her second win in the youth girls race runner up Holly MacMahon could be happy in the knowledge that she’s pushing Abigail hard.

In the men’s races there were some incredibly close results with 6 categories decided by just a handful of seconds, the closest had to be the Super Masters, where just 18 secs separated 1st from 4th, with Werner Van Der Merwe just getting the edge on Jon Cruikshank by just 2 seconds, Nick Onslow was a further 1 second behind while Rob Purcell came in for fourth just another 8 seconds later.

It was a ding-dong battle in the Super vets with archrivals Lewis King and Paul Hopkins glued tyre to tyre throughout the 4 lap race. With the first round win going to Lewis, Hopkins was hoping to even the score, but once again Lewis proved unbeatable, with Hopkins conceding defeat by just 5 secs. With round 2 sport winner Al Fairburn now chancing his hand in the Expert race, he left the door well and truly open for a new sport winner. This honour was battled for by Martin Turton and Isaac Pucci, with each rider matching his rival wheel length for wheel length, however it was Turton who grabbed the victory by the narrowest of margins.

Despite being pushed all the way by Matt Craner, John Pierce made it 2 out of 2 wins as he took top honours in the vets race, while in the men’s open race James Braid was denied the pleasure of a clean sweep with Dennis Lisbygd taking the win opening up a 38 sec advantage. In the name of consistency we found the same top 3 finishers in the same order as round 2 in the Senior Vets race with Ray Robinson once again leading the way.

It was a clean sweep in both the Grand Vets, Juvenile men and youth men as Rob Jackson, Matt Fratesi and Will Taylor took their second win of the series in their respective categories. With Matt Field breathing healthily down his neck the entire race, Ollie Taylor managed to swap his second in round 2nd of the masters race for the top step position, while the another turnout for the fun race saw David Rees lead them all a merry dance for 2 laps as he romped to victory.

As is traditional at this time of year, Gorrick play host to a ‘Varsity Challenge’ with Cambridge and Oxford forgoing the usual row boats for a dabble off road instead. In the women’s race Brianna Stubbs got Oxford off to a good start taking a comfortable win, while in the men’s race the tables were turned with Cambridge’s Toby Parnell narrowly defeating Alister Mathie of Oxford Uni. With a complex system of scoring, the actual outcome of which uni was ultimately victorious is yet to be decided….

One rider who probably couldn’t believe his luck had to be super vet Lee King. His top 20 position in this super hard race was a great result, but King carried off the spot prize of a cracking holiday thanks to race sponsors Saddle Skedaddle.

If you think this cross country racing sounds like fun then why not come and join us?

With two more rounds to go you have plenty of opportunity to come and have a dabble, you’ll be more than welcome and you never know you may go home with a satisfied grin, a trophy and even a holiday! What’s not to like….

Check out for full details of the remaining rounds and of course full results.

If cross country racing seems a bit too fast and furious for you, don’t worry Gorrick cater for those who like to ride a little bit further and a little bit longer! Check out the Gorrick Exposure 100, which will also be raising funds for the Surrey Air Ambulance, for more details on endurance fun and remember this event counts towards the UK’s very own Endurance Series. Have you got what it takes to top that tree???


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