Banjo Cycles – Specialized – Racewear, team riders, Peter Kench and Dan Smith made the trip up from the south to Sherwood Pines for the 1st round of the National Mountain bike points series. The drive up was as much of a challenge as was the race. With the sat nav taking in some B roads, at one point with 2m high snow drifts covering the road, it looked like turning round was the best option. But after some skilled driving of laying off the brakes and letting the car slide its way through the lanes we managed to get back on to A roads and on to the M1.
Having made it through the drive, the riders were excited to ride the course as both had experience of racing cyclo cross in the snow and had found these conditions to their favour. After watching race 1 and seeing riders lapping relatively clean the Specialized fast track tyres remained on the bikes for the pre lap. The track was very wet in places with hard packed, frozen ground underneath, and the tyres were good in 90% of the track. The two short descents required something a little grippier on the front so a switch to the Specialized ground controls on the front was made before the race.
The riders had never experienced freezing mud, as alot of cyclo cross riders had at this years world champs, that was to change as after prelapping the bikes were ‘cleaned’ by peeling of the mud from the bikes in solid chunks. This was going to be an epic day out!
Watching the elite men ride the start loop, left the riders with dread for the race as, the usual high speed sherwood course was now a hard slog to even keep some momentum in the bike. After seeing the NPS champion of last year take a tumble on a relatively easy corner it showed that your full attention was needed to survive the course.
The race was every bit as tough as expected. At the end of a chaotic first lap Peter was in 14th place and Dan was not to far back in 20th place. The conditions got worse as the race went on as the watery mud turned into thick sticky porridge. This increased the weight of the specalized stump jumper team bike to nearly 40lbs by the end of the race and reduced the number of usable gears down to four. The main objective for the last two laps was to keep momentum going on the bike through the single track and trying to spin the usable gears at as higher cadence as possible on the fire road with out going dizzy. By the end of 1hr and 30mins, for the winner, of racing Pete managed to move up to 10th and Dan lost a few placed to finish 23rd. A solid start to the NPS series and both riders are looking forward to the next round in Redruth hopefully in warmer and dryer conditions.
Thank you to all the course builders, marshalls, time laps and race promotor for putting on the NPS round 1 which must have been the hardest conditions any MTB race has been run in this country.