Thursday, 5 March 2015

MSG Round 1 - Shouldham Warren

Renvale and Newdales lock out the elite podium.
It feels a bit early to be talking about the start of the summer race series, but it was officially the end of winter just a day before the MSG series kicked off at Shouldham Warren, Norfolk.

I raced this venue last year, all be it on a slightly different course, and really enjoyed it. It’s far more hilly than I thought Norfolk could be with a couple of real steep climbs linked by flowing singletrack and a few fire road drags.
From the grid the start loop took us up the hill to break up the field before re-joining the course and heading into some damp and loamy singletrack. By this point my lungs were already burning and I had haemorrhaged places. A stalled rider on a slight mound meant more lost places and the race had hardly got going. For the rest of the first lap I had to work hard to stick to the wheel of Mark Barnes (Pedal Revolution). Together we reeled in Martin Pearson (RAF) on the second lap and rode as a 3 for a lap and a half. At one point we heard a huge crack from up the hill, commenting that it sounded expensive. As we turned onto the fireroad we passed a couple of riders on the floor along with a Trek carbon hardtail snapped clean in two. At least I was having a better day than that!

looks as expensive as it sounded
(Courtesy of @epicdaza on Twitter)
On the third lap I felt a bit of strength returning to my legs and managed to gap Mark and Martin but keeping a sport rider for company. Not that much strength had returned and he soon got away from me but not before we had caught Nick Drew (Dyson). For the last couple of laps I was trying to build a gap over Nick but although I occasionally seemed to increase the gap, the next time I looked around it had closed again. During this battle I made up 1 more place, passing a fading Nick Jones on the final lap. I could feel my legs trying to cramp and when Nick sprinted past me into the final singletrack section I could do nothing to stop him. He managed to put a lapped rider between us into the final descent which effectively sealed my position in 8th.

Up ahead Rich Jones (Renvale) had quickly stamped his authority winning by over 5 minutes after 5 laps. Second and third could only be separated by a sprint down the final straight. Even the riders themselves didn’t know who had pinched it until the podiums. In a shock result, Andy Cockburn (Newdales) took second in a sprint pushing Matt Barrett (Renvale) into 3rd.

In the end it was good to have some good close mid-pack battles although I’d obviously like to be a bit further up the results sheet. Starting racing this early in the year means a very long season and plenty of opportunity to improve. For now it’s back to training and aiming for an improvement in time for the traditional season opening weekend, one week before Sherwood.

Results from Round 1 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears series can be found here –

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