Pics & Words by Joolze Dymond
After a long few months leading us to the heady climes of summer the Gorrick Spring Series has seen more ups and downs along the way than most trail centre rides! From inclement weather through to last minute venue changes we finally got to the last instalment and to say they kept the best till last may be the understatement of the year.
Attendance has been brilliant as riders young and old came and got their fix of XC racing in the friendly atmosphere the Gorricks, along with their fun courses are famous for.
For the final round riders were off to try out a venue that hasn’t been high on the agenda for a year or two, Frith Hill. It may be the baby brother of Porridgepot Hill, but it doesn’t half pull a punch as the 450 riders who turned out duly found. Ahead lay a 4 mile combination of swoopy twists and turns, coupled with fast rolling wider tracks to catch that all important breath before heading into yet more smile inducing singletrack, complete with more surprises than Santa’s grotto. And more importantly despite a few feeble efforts the weather behaved (we’ll not mention the downpour that greeted the final podium…).
So the stage was set and the players ready to complete a solid season of racing, competing and all out socializing. In many categories there was still everything to play for to take the series win and with it some impressive prizes, donated by all the supportive bike stores and of course series sponsor Saddle Skedaddle.
First up to take on the challenge were the youth and it was Martin Turton who took the win, pursued hotly to the line by Matt Lewis, losing out by only 6secs. He was however assured of the series win having previously won 4 of the other rounds. Harvey Lowe took command of the Juvenile race leaving a consistent Harrison Combe to deliver a solid second to sweep up the overall series top spot, while Gretel Warner rode brilliantly against the boys to take her fourth win along with the series. While the youngsters battled it out over the full course, their even younger counterparts, all the under 10’s & 12’s were keenly getting stuck into their shortened version.
You can always guarantee a thrilling battle in both the Super Master and Vets categories, with age no excuse to get any slower, or so it seems! Thick in the action at every round of the Super Masters has been Singular rider Steve Webb, plying his trade with usually just one gear, while his rivals try to best him with their multiple gear selection. The final round was no different well except for the inclusion of gears, a real benefit on a course as cruel as Frith Hill with many stings in it’s tail! As the race unfolded it was clear that it was going to be a hard fought battle for the win between Webb and Stephen James, with James eventually opening up the narrowest of gaps to take the win. Webb came in second just seconds behind to secure the overall series win as consolation.
In the Master race Morvelo’s Oli Pepper also traded in his customary singlespeed for a few more ratios and stunned himself by taking the win, in a thrilling seat of the pants finale that saw just 30 secs separate the top 4 finishers. Rob Purcell’s 3rd spot secured him the series win.
Super Vet Paul Hopkins played a cunning game of cat and mouse with Lewis King to take the win by a cheek squeezing 2 secs, taking him to the overall win, while Nigel Grantham took his second win in the Vets to secure the series too.
In the women’s vets series there has been a real ding-dong battle between Sarah Whelan and Jacqueline Easton and this final round was no easier with each rider giving no ground. Despite grabbing the win Easton was superseded by Whenlan for the overall series win by just 6 points. Jo Munden controlled the Masters race right from the start taking another comfortable win, however season rival Fay Cripps with a complete set of races had enough in the bag to take the overall series win.
Some more close racing in the Senior Vets category saw Stuart Gough edge out rivals Denis Boltwood and Andy Smith to take the win with a handful of seconds to spare. However Smith just did enough to squeeze out the series win by a mere 6 points from rival, Boltwood. In the Grand Vets Geoff Burke was the clear winner, taking his first win of the series. The overall winner however was Ian Petherbridge, who despite a poor result on the day for him, had enough to take the series ahead of Simon North.
With Aiden Bishop deciding to give the Masters a run for their money in this round, having sown up the overall series Open win already; he left the door wide open for a new contender to take the Open category win. Trog rider Dan Howe took the race out fast with Dominic McLoughin close on his heels. However as Howe and McLoughin slowed it down for lap 2, Matt Knight did the reverse bringing him straight back into the mix. Despite a hard blast by McLoughin he couldn’t stop the tide that Knight represented from turning and had to settle for second just 13secs behind a rapid Knight.
With 4 wins out of 4 Kathy Beresford could be excused missing a round, she had enough in the bag to take the series win. So it was up to Lisa Kamphausen to stamp her own authority on the Open Women’s race which she did, to take a convincing win, while Sport rider Natasha Barry claimed her 3rd win out of the 5 rounds, a result that saw her take the overall series too. For Marc Chamberlain his 3rd win of the series in the Sport Men by 2 mins 32 secs underlined his strong performance, giving him the win of the overall series too.
In the Expert race, the season didn’t start overly well for Tim Dunford, but as the series progressed the TORQ rider quickly came into form. In the finale a closely fought battle steadily unfolded which saw the lead chop and change throughout the long 5 laps it was Dunford who finally broke clear of rivals Chris Minter and Scott Forbes to end his series with a win, just 7 secs ahead of Minter and with it the overall series to boot.
Gabby Day, an international cross rider who has turned to mountain biking in the summer months to help her up her cross game, was the woman to beat in the Expert Women’s race. Relative newcomer Maxine Filby was the only woman able to at least glimpse a fast disappearing Day, as she rode a strong race. However Day had it in the bag taking a clear win with over 80 secs advantage. Filby however finished well to secure the overall series win.
It was indeed a grand finale to yet another cracking series with a novel approach to podiums just adding to all the fun. Many thanks to everyone who came and saw and rode and hopefully went away with a huge grin and a few prizes too. See you all in the autumn.
Thanks to, to all the generous sponsors who gave a stunning array of prizes worth for all winners, especially Saddle Skedaddle for providing a few well-earned holidays.
Finally, thanks to all the hardworking Gorrick crew who passionately provide a great series.