The team headed to Dalby forest for round two of the British XC series, for what turned out to be some of the toughest race conditions that a UK National XC race has seen in a long while…
Dalby forest was a stark contrast to the round one venue in many way’s, with the biggest difference to Sherwood being the sheer number of significantly difficult, technical challenges which cropped up around pretty much every corner of the course. This was combined with some massive changes in elevation, packed into the short lap, ensuring riders were either climbing on the tip of their saddles or descending with their weight as far back as possible!
The weeks leading up to the event saw torrential rain, and as we arrived into the already saturated arena on Saturday, a heavy hail storm rolled in and it became clear that the theme for the weekend was very much a muddy one! This was confirmed as number of unrecognisable brown figures (probably riders on practice laps) aboard bikes came rolling under the finish banner of the course. As an already technical course in the dry, when there is plenty of grip, the slippery layer of mud turned it into something treacherous and made an already technically demanding course even more demanding.
Sunday’s race day got off to a very bad start. James Gleave our Master’s category rider was out practicing the rightfully named ‘Worry Gill’ section of the course, a near vertical rocky drop into a muddy gully, when disaster struck. Whilst dropping in and getting his weight over the back of the bike, James got caught up in his saddle, sending him over the bars from the top of the drop. James landed heavily and very awkwardly taking much of the impact on his face, some metres down. Marshals and First Aid were on the scene in seconds and quickly had James onto a Spinal board ready for the ambulance to arrive. The ambulance was quickly on the scene and shipped his off to the local hospital for treatment. We later heard that James had sustained a broken wrist and more seriously a broken vertebra. Fortunately he had not sustained any damage to his spinal cord so should make a full recovery. We wish James a speedy recovery and hope to see him healed up and back riding his bike soon. A big thanks to all the marshals and St Johns Ambulance who helped get him to hospital.
Race one got underway with Elite rider Ruby Miller, like round one Ruby was up against not only some of the UK best but some of the Worlds best with some big name international riders filling up the start list. With another heavy shower in the morning, Ruby had some of the worst conditions out of all of the team to contend with (as shown clearly in the photo above). Ruby managed some consistent laps to finish an excellent 20th position and after a crash in last years race on the course overcame her fears of the technical sections.
Next up was the Elite race, which brought even more carnage than normal, as from the gun riders not only had to fight for positions, but for grip under tyre around the waterlogged start loop. Shortly before the start, the sun had finally started to dry the course out turning it from a wet, muddy, mess, into a stick muddy mess which helped the mud stick to everything! With the course conditions as they were, it was a war of attrition just to stay in the race, as many riders fell by the wayside with crashes or mechanicals. Unfortunately for us this included Anthony O’Boyle, who injured his knee after being taken out by a rider overtaking him, along with Ben Price and Chris Andrews who both suffered mechanicals and had to call it a day early.
Lee Westwood was our first rider home in 32nd after a solid ride, shortly followed by Sion O’Boyle in 34th. Heres how Sion got on, ‘Having raced the last two years National XC rounds at Dalby in the dry, the course in the wet was incredibly tricky! My race didn’t quite go to plan after loosing positions at the start as a result of riders going down on the slippery grassy corners. Over the 5 lap race I managed to work my way through the field to eventually finish 33rd . A result I am fairly happy with considering the circumstances but, want better!’ Neil Hayward came home a credibly 43rd which was a big improvement on his result at the previous round in Sherwood and not bad for a rider old enough to be in the Masters category and with a bike weighting close to twice its normal weight!
Next up for the team is the National Marathon Champs being held up in Selkirk, Scotland, see here for more.. http://www.mtb-marathon.co.uk/events/selkirk.php
Once again a huge thank you to all of our sponsors this year;
www.whytebikes.com – Frames
www.shimano.com – Drivetrain & Brakes
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets
www.ritcheylogic.com – Handlebars, Stems, Saddles, Seatposts & Grips
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools and Bottle Cages
www.champ-sys.com – Performance Cycle Clothing
www.srsuntour-cycling.com – SR Suntour Suspension Forks
www.exposurelights.com – Advanced Lighting
www.juicelubes.co.uk – Lubrication
www.lakecycling.com – Shoes
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.crankbrothers.com – Pedals
www.cleecycles.com – KCNC Skewers & Bottom Brackets
www.sapim.be – Spokes
www.stradawheels.co.uk – Wheel Builder
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography
www.cycleops.com – Power Measurement and Turbo Training
www.notubes.com – Tyre Sealant, Rims & Hubs
www.dare2be.com – Casual Clothing
Follow the TORQ Performance MTB team’s progress on their Facebook page: