by Ben Haworth
April 6, 2009
Gorrick Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series R4
Along with the clocks going forward on the weekend and over 500 hundred riders rolling up to take part in the latest round of the Gorrick Saddle Skedaddle Spring Series, you could definitely say the Spring has really sprung. The sun even came out to welcome riders from near and far as they got stuck into a really challenging course. Porridgepot Hill was the venue of choice for this latest round and offered riders a fast track blast around tight twisting singletrack, interspersed by leg burning lung busting climbs, one in particular: the aptly named Hecklers Hill was a favourite with spectators as they cheered on the competitors as the groaned and grunted their way to the top.
Once more, with the National XC series just around the corner the ranks of riders were swelled with competitors keen to check their progress against their peers, as well as loads of new faces just keen to get out and enjoy the weather and checking out what all this racing malarkey is all about.
Series sponsors Saddle Skedaddle, upped the ante by offering two free holidays to be given away in their random rider prize draw, once more riders had more to race for than just first past the finishing line. The men’s Sport race was first to be selected for the random draw, that in itself was another outstanding race with the major contenders throughout the season in the thick of the action, recording an opening lap of under a mind blowing 15mins, 4 laps later and after a few reshuffles in the order of riders it was Martin Delves who proved the one with the stamina to outwit the others. Junior Orange Monkey Nat Jarvis has obviously upped his output and his focus as he rode a blinding race to cruise into second spot just 35 secs adrift, leaving Duane Stander to pick up 3rd a further 24 secs down, while previous round winner and still a youth rider, Max Sykes took 4th. The next best prize after the win of course was the free holiday and that honour went to 10th placed Craig Dolwin, who I guess was chuffed to pip Carl Harris to the line by 5 secs. Maxine Filby took on Master lady Caroline Goward and with a fast first lap took the lead which she seemed to be paying for as the 3 lap race progressed, however she narrowly held onto her lead to take the win by just 17secs from a consistent Goward, while Briony Croft fresh from her downhill and XC successes at the recent BUCS Championships came in to take 3rd.
The open men’s race saw yet again a massive field of riders and the competition was fierce as anticipated. BUCS Sport race winner Matt Treviss had his work cut out for him as Max Filleul took off like a scalded cat opening up 30 sec lead on lap one, which he steadily increased throughout the 3 lap race to finally take the win in just over 48 mins racing. Treviss had to be content with 2nd with Robert McCarthy picking up 3rd.
Luckiest lady of the day had to be Natasha Litherland, who not only secured 3rd spot in the Open race but also went home with a free holiday, a great reward for some stiff racing. Natalia Wase was the lady that took the win, ahead of Hannah Reynolds.
The men’s Masters race has to rank as one of the hardest fought over of the whole series with a number of riders evenly matched, each vying for that top spot. R4 was no exception with a miniscule 10 secs separating the top 3 riders. Lee Gollop took his 2nd win of the series, narrowly beating Ollie Taylor into 2nd after a hard fought race which saw Gallop charge from behind in the closing stages while singlespeeding Steve Webb cranked in for 3rd just 9 secs adrift. Kim Hurst continued her clean sweep of the series scorching round the 2 lap race in under 38 mins to take her 4th win, while Jo Munden took 2nd ahead of Fran Mundy.
Travelling up from the wilds of Plymouth, Maddie Horton beaming the whole way round took a convincing win in the expert women from a slightly overhung Gemma Collins, who had been out celebrating her 30th birthday the previous night.
Another nail biting race quickly unfolded in the expert men’s race, with an opening lap of less than 14 mins, this would see the 5 lap race finished in a rip roaring 73mins! Straight from the start it was easy to see this would be a gladiatorial battle between Gareth Montgomerie and Adrian Lansley, with only junior Steven James able to stick to their wheels on the opening gambit. By lap 2 and the ding dong battle was well underway, with Montgomerie taking the lead, by lap 3 this had been reversed with Lansley once more in the driving seat, meanwhile youngster James started to find the pace a little high and started to fade, leaving Stuart Bowers to take up the slack and slip into 3rd. Lansley continued heading the expert train right to the line, with Montgomerie taking second with just a slipped second between them. Bowers took 3rd while James held on to take a well-earned 4th.
Sam Gardner, National Masters Champion, famous not only for his excursions into Xterra racing but also for championing compression socks, was lined up for a what turned out to be a tense battle in the Super Masters and again saw the top competitors separated by mere seconds. Mark Hutt led the foray into the singletrack closely followed by Gardner, Stephen James and Nick Onslow. Nothing but a cats whisker separated these 4 riders throughout the 4 lap race, but in the end it was Hutt who took the gold, seconds ahead of Gardner, whilst James pipped Onslow into 3rd just a few more sec adrift.
It was a hot days racing despite the chilly temperatures, with each race throwing up it’s own battles and nail biting finishes. The final round moves from the advertised Ash Common and now returns to the popular Tunnel Hill, where we’ll see the final outcomes be played out, should make for yet another great day’s racing. See you there on the 19th April.
Results and series details can be found at: www.gorrick.com
Nat Jarvis – 2nd Sport: “That has to be one of the hardest and best races I’ve ever ridden. I’m proper chuffed with that; I can’t keep the grin off my face at the moment! It was really tough on the first lap as I had a bad start, I thought I was mid pack and then I saw Max (Sykes) and realised I was actually up in the top 4 and I was struggling to get on the back of them but happy to be in with a shout of the leading group. Midway through the 3rd lap the pace started picking up, started getting even more difficult, but by then I’d got into my grove and then it got all technical and I kinda just went with the faster bloke ahead of me! It paid off and at the end of the day people make mistakes and at the end of the day I came out the other end nearly on top. Hopefully I can repeat this ride at Sherwood Pines next week. This is a new Nat, this is the Nat that wants to win and be at the top!”
Maddie Horton – 1st Expert lady: “I didn’t expect to win this race by such a big margin, considering who else was in it, but I loved the course and flew round it, it was so much fun. When I pre rode it I didn’t think it would be as much fun, but when I racing it was brilliant! It was so swoopy out there and on the full sus it just hugged every bend and flowed so well, I over cooked it a bit on a few corners and overshoot occasionally! It was fun. When it feels right, it excellent and today it just felt right. Lets hope I haven’t shot the bolt for next weekend!”
Lee Gallop – 1st Master: “That makes 2 seconds and 2 firsts now in the series. The idea was to come today and try and consolidate my lead in the championship, just like the last race I got a bad start. I got caught up on the first corner and on the first climb as well and found myself in a small group in chase mode. I sat with them for a while and my team mates were telling me the gap was coming down so I pushed to the head of the group and tried to bridge across to the leaders. I caught them on the last lap, as they were tiring. I made my move on the last hill and consolidated that until the finish. Me and Ollie Taylor actually crossed the line together, it was that close. Now it looks like I’ve tied up the series, which is what I set out to do!
“My whole aim was to get top 3 in the masters, so I’m delighted to be where I am at the moment. I guess now my aim moves to work on some fitness for the Southern XC’s, I’ve only trained for 3 laps and obviously they are one lap longer so that’ll impact on my racing. I might even have a go at a few National XC races too. The course is ace, I’ve been here a few times I got 3rd here in the series last year, I enjoy the hills, so this terrain suits me. I struggled at the start of the season with my fitness but it’s come good now and I need to build on that. To be honest when I first started racing in the Open races at the Gorrick I was regularly finishing in the 70s and now I’ve improved to where I am now, mainly thanks to the Gorrick and with a change of lifestyle. My first race was in ’05 in Yately and it’s been a steady progression from there, its just so enjoyable I’m so glad I gave it a go!”