Joolze Dymond reports with words and pictures from the first round of the Merida Brass Monkeys Enduro down in Surrey, which managed to live up to the name with artic conditions:
With Christmas just round the corner thoughts are turning to turkey and all the trimmings, not forgetting a splurge of Christmas pud and custard, so why not book a ticket on the next Brass Monkeys Enduro to help you shake off that Christmas excess and bring you slap bang into the New Year, feeling fit and ready for anything (possibly the 3rd Merida Brass Monkey!)
Round 1 is now done and dusted, but it certainly went with a slip and a slide bringing to life the true meaning of Brass Monkey, with it’s sub zero temperatures. Nearly 500 riders braved the artic feel and were rewarded with some classic singletrack action. Utilising many trails rarely used, the enduro took riders on a merry romp around Porridgepot Hill, taking in such delights as the Valley of Doom, a loose gravel descent followed much too closely by a leg wrenching climb, but the views were well worth it! Skirting down to the canal, whoops of delight could be heard as competitors experienced a roller coaster ride of fun over the undulating circuit. In total 8 miles of ever changing terrain, whistling through the frost encrusted undergrowth, under soaring blue skies were enough to warm, even the coldest rider as they raced their way against the clock.
In the 4 hour race, TORQ riders Ben Thomas and Tim Dunford blazed a trail, leading from the front racking up the fastest lap times, leaving the rest of the race in their wake as they clocked up 7 laps. Forging a big lead early on the boys matched each other pace for pace, however a leisurely ‘comfort break’ gave the chasers a sniff of the action and soon the TORQ riders were in competitor sights. With adrenalin surging Dunford made a quick exit on the last lap leaving nothing to chance and teammate Thomas. While he went to take the win, Thomas hung onto to second, despite a surge by Wiggle rider Matt Page who just pipped Phil Gale to third. In the vet men’s 4 hr Matt Craner had a near clear run, only James D’Arcy may have given him a run for his money if a mechanical hadn’t hampered his pursuit on lap 1, while Jo Munden’s fast start in the women’s event gave her a strong lead that she held for her 6 laps to take the win.
In the 2 hr race it was the 3 man strong fast train consisting of George Budd, Richard Mardle and vet Paul Hopkins that controlled their race from the front. On the final 4th lap Mardle made his move, leaving Budd in chase mode, with Hopkins racing for gold in the vet race making that dash for second even more challenging. Mardle took the win, whilst Hopkins surged past Budd to claim the vet’s 2 hr race leaving Budd to pick up second behind Mardle. Maxine Filby looked strong in the 2hr women’s race carving out a commanding 7 min lead over her 3 laps. Behind her the race was well and truly on for the runners up spot with the next 3 riders separated by just 37secs. However it was Elizabeth Gilmour who managed to hang onto 2nd just 6 secs ahead of Saskia Hart.
Round 2 of this exciting winter mountain bike treat is on the 28th Dec at the ever-popular Ash Ranges. This venue was slightly curtailed last year but still provided an excellent testing circuit, this year however, the organisers have been given a free hand to extend the course used, meaning lots of interesting singletrack ready and waiting to help you work off all that turkey and get over Xmas cabin fever!
So get your entry in now and you could join the growing band of dedicated riders keen to get a dose of fun brought to you by the Army and the Gorrick, supported all the way by Merida!
More details can be found here: www.meridabrassmonkeys.com
Photos here: www.joolzedymond.com