Mud, Sweat and Gears ‘summer’ league gets underway at a freezing Hadleigh Park
With the Revel Outdoors Winter Series only just completed, mountain bikers were straight back in action for the first round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears “summer” league at Hadleigh Park, writes Fergus Muir.
The bright scene at the Essex venue may have looked like summer, but a few moments in the freezing wind blowing off the Thames Estuary reminded everyone it was still February. Haverhill veteran Nick Ainsworth reported the wind was actually strong enough to blow competitors off their line on occasion.
The course steered clear of the more fearsome features of the 2012 Olympic course, but focussed on zig-zag switchbacks and climbs that tested riders to their limits.
Even Renvale’s Paddy Atkinson, with a high level of climbing ability and bike-handling skills only rode the toughest hill clear on four out of the six laps of the Expert/Elite men’s race.
Atkinson was second to Christopher Rothwell in this category while Seb Herrod and Andrew Cockburn, the leaders last week had another close battle, but for fifth place this time – claimed by Herrod, five seconds ahead of Cockburn.
Atkinson has his eyes on MTB Marathon races in Europe this summer – long distance races in mountain areas, either place-to-place or on large loops.
Among the women there was no stopping Veteran Laura Sampson, who was fastest of all with Senior winner Elvita Branch next, closely followed by Angela Laycock. Epic Orange team members Nicole Beck and Jodie Cole were second and third behind Alison Goss in the Sport Women category,
The Grand Vets category – that is men over 50 – was closely contended between Ian Dalton, Nick Ainsworth, Mark Wellsted, Mark Wingar and Keith Clarke – that being the order they finished. Wellsted was an early attacker, but the Colchester rider was not the only one to find himself railroaded into a slower, safer “C” line while overtaking backmarkers, costing him some time. Finally it was on the climb that Dalton sealed his win.
The Men’s Sport category (that’s age 18-39) saw a race long battle with James Pickering (Push Sport) in close contention with Jake Darrah (Travers Bikes) and Robert Staines (Hadleigh MTB). Still together with one lap to go, Staines finally opened a small gap and won by seven seconds from Pickering, with Darrah a further 26 seconds down.
Young roadman Zak Coleman has won assistance from the Dave Rayner Fund to help him live and race in Belgium in 2018.
The former Strada Sport and Great Yarmouth CC rider is the only East Anglian receiving help this year from the fund, created in memory of young Yorkshire rider Dave Rayner, which has previously helped riders like Tour de France competitors David Millar and Adam Yates to international careers.
To learn more about how to help the fund see www.daveraynerfund.co.uk/
Coleman’s opened his season at Brussels-Opwijk last Sunday - his first race as an Under 23 and his first for new team VP Consulting-Zannata. It was a tough start with 149 kilometres to cover and a field of 170 to contend with. Coleman finished in the bunch – while 70 of the starters never even made it to the end.
Racing as a Junior last season Coleman, travelling frequently to Belgium from his home in Yarmouth, made steady progress resulting in a mid-season offer to race in the Papillion team and names his second place in the Bavikhove international criterium as one of his best results.
There were around 100 riders in the VC Revolution Sportive, based at West Bergholt, while around 60 successfully completed the two Wolsey Road Club events out of Bredfield Village Hall. After both the cold winds and the hot food featured prominently in many post-event recollections.
Fourteen year-old Godric CC member Joe Wakelin was one of the 48 cyclists who successfully completed the Bungay club’s 50 mile reliability trial which followed a route from Ditchingham to Halesworth , Beccles and Haddiscoe before returning to Ditchingham.