Report: Mildenhall Cycling Rally

Record breaking crowds at Mildenhall Cycling Rally which is over-whelming success despite storms

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Rowan Elliott (VC St Raphael) is this year’s British Cycling National 800m Grass-Track Champion. He secured the title at the weekend’s Mildenhall Cycling Rally, which in spite of the tremendous storm that hit the Suffolk site on Saturday was still an over-whelming success.

As well as being an Elite rider, Elliott holds a Sports Massage Therapy qualification and is also a qualified Personal Trainer in the North West. He adds this 800m National crown to the 400m Grass-Track title he won in 2010. This and the 8km Scratch were the highlights from the three-days of grass-track racing, although the standard of racing throughout was exceptionally high, providing the massive crowds with some fabulous entertainment.

“The attendance on the Sunday was the highest we’ve ever seen at the Rally, with spectators lining the whole of the grass-track two-deep and in the home and back straights up to four or five deep in places. With the Rally able to attract the very best track riders to Mildenhall, it means visitors get to see probably the best grass-track racing in the country“ said Mark Burchett, chairman of the organisers Mildenhall Cycling Club.

In the National Endurance League Lewis Meadows went into the Rally the clear leader on 106 points. In the final counting event, the 8km Mini-Milk Race, he finished fifth securing 14 more points to merely underline his dominance of the season long competition. George Wood (Maldon & District CC) finished sixth, cementing his second place in the National Endurance League. While John McClelland’s victory in the 8km Mini-Milk Race, gave him 30 points lifting him from fifth to third in the final standings

Despite the speculation surrounding whether Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott, who both competed at Mildenhall as they were growing up, would attend the Rally or not, neither of the Olympians made an appearance. Although what was on show on the Saturday, were eighty under 16 year olds competing in the Juveniles grass-track racing and it was very clearly evident that the competition to become the future Pendleton or Trott is very fierce.

“Over 95% of the campers had booked in and set up well before the storm hit the Rally on Saturday about 5.30pm and if we had to choose a time that would cause the least disruption to the those taking part or visiting the event, that was probably it for the deluge to hit us. The afternoon’s grass-track programme finished as the rain began to fall and there were no activities outside in the evening.

Although it did unfortunately affect some people very badly as they tried to leave the farmers field adjacent to the Rally that is used as a day car park, with their vehicles getting stuck. We are deeply indebted to farmers’ Tom and Thomas Tuffs, who spent until midnight pulling the stranded vehicles out,” explained Mr Burchett.

“As there was further rain forecast over the weekend, we took the hard decision not to use the farmers’ field as a car park for the remainder of the Rally and although we tried to use every area available to us for car-parking, it did unfortunately mean there was some disruption to local residents with unexpected congestion in the immediate area surrounding the Rally site. We are sincerely grateful for their understanding and co-operation but would still like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to their bank-holiday weekend,” added Mark Burchett.

As well as the onsite camping and caravan pitches being full, there were hundreds of people competing, not just on the grass-track, but also in the many competitive events over the Bank-Holiday weekend festival of cycling.

The Go-Ride Skilful Riding run for us by West Suffolk Wheelers and Triathlon Club on the Saturday attracted over 50 children aged between 4 to 16 years old.

On the touring front, the Audax Rides organised by the C.T.C. (Cyclists Touring Club) Suffolk attracted over 200 cyclists. This included 21 hardy, or foolhardy riders who took up the challenge of the 300km ride starting at 4am. The newly introduced 57km route aimed at newcomers to Audax was warmly received and will be included in next year’s

Hundreds, if not thousands of cyclists took advantage of Mildenhall Cycling Club’s range of touring leaflets, offering them the chance to explore the local countryside.

The two-day Trade Show on Sunday & Monday saw plenty of customers browsing stands from cycling organisations that included The Tricycle Association, Sustrans as well as Mildenhall Cycling Club, or taking advantage of the bargains being offered by the cycle retailers present.

Like everything else at the Rally, both the Cycle Jumble and Quiz Night enjoyed full houses. As well as the traditional club cyclists, there was plenty for the local visitors to see and do as well. The Children’s Sports everyday and the bouncy castle and face painter on the Sunday and Monday were very popular. Additionally on the Sunday there was a circus skills-workshop and on the Monday, Adam Strange with his Magic and Puppet Shows!

The host club were well represented by members competing in most of the events.

James Carrington was the youngest member racing and should be proud of his 10th place in the 6-7 years age group in the Children’s Duathlon. He also took part in the Under 9’s Cyclo-Cross race and again is to be congratulated on his 13th place. James’s cousin, Lucia Carrington was 13th in the next age group upwards (8-9 years) in the Children’s Duathlon.

Colin Mantle finished 7th in the Juvenile Omnium on the grass-track for Category D for riders aged Under 10. In the Children’s Duathlon he was 7th fastest in the 8-9 year old age group and in the Under 12’s Cyclo-Cross he finished a very respectable 9th place.

New member Calum Mitchell-Fuller, finished 12th in the 10-13 year old age group of the Children’s Duathlon, in his first ever competitive event for the Club.

In the same age group, Josh Murad was 10th fastest. Having ridden the Duathlon for the first time, he also tried the very specialist area of Roller Racing. Despite his pre-race nerves he gradually grew in confidence and did well to finish 4th in the Juniors Omnium. In the Under 12’s Cyclo-Cross, he finished in 8th position.

In the Under 16’s of the ‘Cross, Jack Tuffs did well to finish in 17th place.

In the senior event, run as a Madison where a team of two-riders ride alternate laps, the winners were Kevin Payton (Stourbridge CC) and Tom Payton (Islabikes). Matt Cook was the highest placed Mildenhall rider, who with his partner Chris Boakes (Chelmer CC) finished in 8th position.

Immediately behind them were Matthew Skeets who was paired with Ian Cleverly (Mosquito Bikes) who as also the editor of the quality cycling magazine ‘Rouleur’, is writing a feature on the Rally for their next issue. And in 16th place of the 34 teams were Matthew Mantle and Richard Carrington.

On holiday from his present home in America, Martin Kemp made the most of the opportunity to ride on grass at the Rally again. He was rewarded with second place in the 400m Handicap race and said afterwards that within a few seconds all the old skills came flooding back.

In Mildenhall Cycling Club’s Grass-Track Championships, Diane Mantle jokingly said at the start of the Senior race that the women should have a one-lap head start to which the men stupidly agreed to. They were to rue to that, for although it took every ounce of effort in her tiring body to reach the finish first, the men despite the superior fitness just could not catch her! It was nearly a 1-2 for the Mantle family, for her son Colin only just lost out to Josh Murad in the finishing straight of the Under 16’s Championship.

A complete set of results and pictures from the Rally’s events can be found on



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