Words and photos: Neil Cain. Podium shots: Dave Franciosy…
Sunday 14th March 2010: Many Mums were left alone with their flowers and boxes of chocolates last Sunday as their offspring deserted them in search of speed, glory and a nice burger at the Aston Hill Black Run race.
Sunday morning, early o’clock. The car park was already full with the campers of those from further afield (competitors came from as far away as Manchester) ready to sign-on once gates opened at 8am. Anticipation was increased by the slightly delayed start, and by the time things kicked off at 11.15am the atmosphere was positively buzzing; it turns out that 175 riders had begged, blagged and stolen their way to enjoy the sunny weather and fantastic trail conditions. Cafe in the Woods were serving up great grub from the back of their beautiful VW Camper, flags and pit tents were gently flapping in the breeze and Monster were handing out freebies whilst the gorgeous sound system was rockin’ it out of the back of their huge Chevy pick-up. Apparently even London’s KISS FM heard the event was happening and gave it a mention!
The course was running beautifully and the injured John Holbrook – off the bike after an interface issue with a Spanish rock – made sure the local’s advantage was limited with some re-routing to include some fresh, loamy lines. The weather Gods were smiling as well – despite a drop of rain on Friday, it had otherwise been a dry week and the conditions were tacky with plenty grip; carving corners and chucking up roost was the order of the day.
Hardtails were first off with Ben Deakin (Royal Marines Commando/Muc-Off) showing us all how to keep it on the ragged edge of controlled, blitzing the Hill in 1:42.58 and beating his nearest rival by nearly twelve seconds, putting him 17th overall at the end of the race. The other categories followed on fast and furious, with Harry Molloy getting the fastest run of the day and taking the Expert/Elite category in 1:34.16, beating Nathan Vials (Borderline Solid UK) by 0.34 and Oli Bunton (Funn, Superstar) by 0.53. Aston Hill committee members Rich Abbott and Nicky Belton (Mud and Snow) stormed to first places in the Vets and Ladies categories respectively, Youth rider Jono Jones won his cat and beat all the Juniors bar Sam Wakefield (Swiss and Swallow) with a 1:39.89, making him ninth fastest on the day. Connor Fletcher won a rather sparse Juvenile category (come on Juveniles – where were you? Oh yes, it was Mother’s Day…), Dan Burchell romped home to win the crowded Seniors and Anthony Gaskin was crowned winning Master.
Mikrotime did their usual sterling job and the complete timing list can be seen at www.mikrotime.com/mtb/ast2010/ast1001.html
The icing on the Black Run cake were the great prizes. A big thanks to all the sponsors whose contributions were gratefully received. Times are still tough and supporting an event don’t come cheap, so it’s even more important to give these guys some props!
Nema Clothing (Chocolate Distribution)
Troy Lee Designs and KaaBoom (Fisher Outdoors)
Bell helmets (Madison)
Dees Cycles of Amersham
Cycle Care of High Wycombe
Rich Abbott once again made the trophies from genuine Aston Hill wood – those of you that were quick enough to get one now have a piece of the Hill on your mantlepiece!
A big nod of respect needs to go out to all the marshalls, Cafe in the Woods, registration ladies, Extreme Medics, BC commissaire Si Paton, Mikrotime and the Aston Hill organisers and members.
Finally, a massive well done to all who raced. It was an awesome day of top-notch, balls-out racing (including the super-stylish ladies) and you guys and gals made the event. Now go and be nice to your Mum, get her some more flowers and make her a cup of tea – she deserves it.
Next race is the Eastern and Central Champs in September on an as yet undecided course. Keep your peepers peeled and fixed on www.rideastonhill.co.uk