As the name suggests for those greedy for mountain bike heaven; miles upon on miles of punishing climbs, couple with sweet flowing singletrack, 7 laps of the 10 mile course which tallied up to the magical 100 (Km) lay in wait. For those less hungry for the miles there were plenty of other options, ranging from 2 to 5 lap groups which started at various times throughout the day engorging the trails with wave upon wave of riders keen to test themselves against the clock and occasionally their peers.
The Crown Estate Forest of Swinley is a Mecca for riders with it’s miles of rewarding singletrack weaving effortlessly around such memorable landmarks as “ You are Joking” a sting in the tail stony climb that left all but the hard core dismounting and walking rather than pedalling. Over 600 hundred riders encountered the wall of stone on each lap and as it turned out it was a ying yang type of course, with the first half littered with testing trails, only soothed by the second half which lead to miles of whoop inducing descents along with fast fire roads to rest and refresh, before being plunged into another myriad of singletrack joy.
International enduro specialist Ian Leitch full of confidence after returning from an American 24 hr event with the impressive scalp of the legendary Tinker Juazeras firmly tucked under his belt, looked as if he was playing out a scene out of the Pied Piper as he danced on his pedals leading out 86 fellow 7 lappers at a chilly 8.30am start. He quickly and decisively opened up a gap on his first lap and spent the next 6 laps steadily increasing his advantage to final complete the tough 100 km in just under 5 1/2 hours to come home and take his trophy and fantastic Gore jacket. He told us later: ‘That was a lovely ride, really enjoyable course, it was so much fun!’.
Ian Longville left enough in the tank to finish in a flourish just 10 mins down while team mates Phil Moore and Gareth Jones finished within 2 secs of each other with Moore just edging ahead to claim his 3rd placed trophy. Luckily just as the challenge warmed up so did the weather with the sprinkling of rain quickly being replaced by a perfect enduro day, cooling breeze coupled with a bright but not dazzling sun…
In the women’s 7 lap race, Lorraine Staley took early command of her challenge leading out her fellow competitors, however her strong start started to falter and evenly paced Viv Hazleton moved into prime position after 3 testing laps to go on to record 7 hours and 21 mins, a time she was more than delighted with having shaved off a considerable amount of time from the previous year as she told us when she finished:’ Last year this event took me 8hrs and 33 mins so this is a quicker course! Thank goodness I might still be out there now otherwise.’
The 5 lap men’s race was a cat and mouse affair between Dave Collins and Billy Jo Whenman. For 4 laps they worked tirelessly together until the final lap when Collins made his move to finish his challenge in 3hrs and 34 mins having opened up a 1min 30sec advantage on youngster Whenman.
Irene Lachner fresh from a chilled out visit to a Danish adventure race which due to an early stage crash she had to sit out, was more than happy to let rip on the Swinley course racking up her 5 laps in just under 5 hours the only woman to achieve that.
There was another close run in for the 4 lap men’s event with Andy Plewes quickly stamping his authority on the event, however Paul Davies was keen to thwart his progress trying to reel him in. Plewes proved the faster with 4 consistent laps while Davies had to settle for 2nd fastest just over 1min 30 secs later. Kaye Patton consistently churned out her 4 laps to finish comfortably ahead of 9 other lady challengers, recording a time of 3hrs 38 mins.
Mountain biking can be a fickle sport and can throw a spanner in the works at any time, when you least expect it. This is what Sarah Collins found to her dismay as she floated round the 3 lap challenge looking to all intents and purposes as becoming the fastest finisher. However fate had other ideas and on lap 3 with just a handful of miles left to complete, Collins punctured and then broke a spoke in her wheel, leaving her limping for home. Sara Randle was the benefactor of the dealt hand, coming in delightedly as the fastest woman, completing the 3 laps in less than 3 hours, while Collins had to console herself with clinging onto 2nd fastest, just scraping under the 3 hours. Randle was not only delighted with her ‘win’ but was even more delighted with her first ride at Swinley ‘Fantastic challenge, just a brilliant course a bit of everything, really steep climbs to test us, but followed by blinding downhill rewards that were so worth it! If you want the definition of swoop come to Swinley, it’s unbelievable fun!’ We think she’ll be back for more!
Gorrick regular Nick Onslow took charge early on in his 3 lap challenge recording the fastest time of 2hrs 10 mins, over 3 mins ahead of Ollie Taylor.
Finally after 1hr 25 mins Ben Thomas using the 2 lap challenge as an extension to his training claimed the fastest time in his event, with Natasha Litherland clearing her 2 laps in under 2 hours to complete the tally of fastest times.
Every rider who finished won their own challenge and although they didn’t go home with the impressive Gore trophy they could be content in the knowledge they achieved their best over a demanding course and each received a finisher’s medal to remind them. Next year of course they’ll be back and they’ll be faster!
Many thanks to everyone who said hello to us while we stomped around the course looking for great shots. Thanks especially to the kind individual who dropped their packet of fruit pastels. We did toy with handing them into lost property, but unfortunately we forgot! Now if you can tell us the exact number of green pastels in the packet we will gladly reimburse you….
See you in the autumn for more Enduro fun – Torq 12:12 30th August 2009.
For more info about Gorrick events visit – www.gorrick.com
Full results at – www.timelaps.co.uk