The first weekend in July saw the TORQ Fuelled Scott Marathon Series head to TORQ’s local mountain bike playground, the Long Mynd and Eastridge Woods for Round 3 of the Series. The event was centred on Church Stretton and showcased the best trails on offer in the Shropshire Hills.
As always, the TORQ Team had a strong presence with the riders out in force, alongside a strong contingent of some of the UK’s fastest marathon racers, including the TORQ Fuelled Scott UK Team. The TORQ Team all put in good rides on a tough course with some torrential rain towards the end of course for many. Both Jules and Jo were among the first back on the 50km loop, with Chris, Lee and Richard riding close to the front in the 75km loop. Here’s how the team got on from their own perspectives.
Jo Clay – “I always look forward to the Scott Marathons, so I was excited that this one was close to home. After an early start, we were on the bikes for 10am. The first climb lived up to the memories of last year and was steep and technical. The course was really quite tough with many, many, climbs, but the descents really made up for it. I didn’t get round super fast as I stopped 3 or 4 times for people who had punctures, but wanted to make sure they had all they needed to get back on the trails again. A great day of riding and a good work out regardless.”
Jules Toone – “As a rider that prefers XC, I opted for the 50km route. We climbed up the Long Mynd from the Northern-most end, and zig- zagged across on a couple of good steep climbs and sweet singletrack descents, including Minton Batch, before some freshly cut trails in the wood at the southern end. From here the route was mainly road before getting back onto the final descent, which confused me completely, because it was the same descent as the first one we’d ridden that day. I thought I had missed a turn and was heading out for a second lap! I timed it well with the weather, having it warm and sunny and managing to get back before the stormy rain and wind came in. It was a good training ride; I enjoyed the stunning views and riding in the hills and rolled in just behind the leaders.”
Lee Gratton – “This was my first ever Scott Marathon and I picked a pretty good one to kick things off with. Church Stretton was a beast of a venue! I thought I was in for some serious climbing and that’s exactly what I got. I feared for my legs with a 36 tooth single front chain ring, but I figured it would all be good training! From the moment we left the neutralised start, it pretty much just went up! I managed to hang with the big guns for the first few miles but, after a small pilot error, I lost touch and try as I might I couldn’t bridge back (that’ll teach me to push!). The course was really enjoyable. We took in some beautiful views from the top of the climbs and the single track around Eastridge made every foot of climbing worth it. All in all it was a great training session and I finished in the top few, but more importantly, it was great fun, super well organised and one everyone should make the effort to do! Get on it people!
Chris Andrews – “Church Stretton is pretty close to home and having ridden this event for the last couple of years, I knew I was in for some steep climbs and some great natural trail riding. On the first 20% climb out of the town, a group of five, including myself, established, and this is pretty much how it stayed throughout the 75km event. Nick Craig, Paul Oldham, Ben Thomas, David Creber and I kept the pace high on the climbs and on the descents. As we climbed back onto the Long Mynd for the final time, I was distanced, the previous day’s Half Marathon running race beginning to make itself known. I arrived back in Church Stretton in fifth position, happy and slightly surprised with the effort I produced and a great day’s riding!”
Richard Dunnett – “Due to other races clashing with the last 2 rounds of the Scott Mountain Marathon Series, this was my first time at one of the Scott Marathons and only my second marathon event after the National Championships earlier in the year. I had been looking forward to this event for some time and it proved to be the perfect test after some time off to recover from the European 24hr champs. I was keen to see where my form was and get out to ride some of the UK ‘s best trails with my fellow team mates.
The ride started with a short section of road before cutting off up a steep climb. I rode most of the climb with the lead 5 riders, but just as we began to reach the top of the climb, I lost the wheel in front of me and my legs and lungs were at their limit already! I didn’t let this worry me as I knew the guys ahead were some of the strongest riders in the country. I suffered for the early pace for about 10-15 miles, so had to settle down into a more comfortable pace and find my legs. Half way through the event I was in about 12th place, but was starting to feel stronger as the miles went on. Coming into the last 10 miles I was feeling very good and started to pick of riders in front of me. I crossed the line feeling happy with my efforts for the day and really enjoyed the event. It was a great chance to ride some amazing trails and left me happy that my training is working and with a few more sessions I will be back on form.”
A great event, enjoyed by all the riders. Next up for the team is the Midlands XC at Eastridge.
As always, a big thank you to all the team sponsors. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do: