Sunday 17th April
Dalby Forest world MTB cross country course was the venue for Round 2 of the Nutcracker MTB series, and a chance to recce the course for the mid-May round of the British Cycling MTB Cross-country Series. With heavy rain on Saturday night the course was very slippery with big puddles on a usually fast course (note the early inclusion of possible excuses…)
Two Otley CC members, Andrew Moxon & Peter Middlemiss, took to the start line in the Grand Vets race alongside British MTB legend and six-times 3-Peaks Cyclo-Cross winner Tim Gould, national Grand Veteran Men MTB champion, resplendent in his national champion jersey. Riding in memory of Chris Baker, a founding member of Chevin MTB club who passed away recently, Andrew & Peter wore Team Chevin jerseys for this race.
As all the riders took to the start, black clouds started to roll in over Dalby Forest and a cold wind began to blow. Ideal conditions for an MTB race then! At the firing of the starting pistol, Andrew got a good start with Peter struggling to get traction on the muddy grass. Once further into the forest and on to the single-track they both got stuck behind slower riders (or faster starters if you prefer), then on the fire trail they ‘nailed it’ – yeah, right! – and passed the slower riders.
Peter finally got traction and caught Andrew, staying on his wheel down a steep sided gully called, worryingly, Worry Gill, a washed out stream full of rocks and tree roots. At the bottom of the gully it was up again on to Medusas Drop, a taxing zig-zag climb (Peter described it as ‘horrible’ but aren’t most climbs?) where Peter managed to pass Andrew. Once over the top and tackling the steep, also zig-zagging descent, Peter’s left-hand pedal annoyingly made contact with the ground and he took flight over the bars. Andrew of course showed great concern for his team-mate, in between howls of laughter, although he did show some restraint by not stopping to take a photograph of his hapless companion, which is a shame.
Picking himself up, Peter chased hard and on a long climb, washed out by heavy rain making it even nastier, he manged to overtake Andrew again. Although now shattered by his efforts he was spurred on by Andrew behind him breathing heavily (hopefully because of the efforts of racing an MTB). On to Jingleby Summit, a crop of rocks that can be ridden over, dropping back on to the fire trail, then the worry once again of Worry Gill, although this time in a slightly different direction, up the other side and finally some easy, and welcome no doubt, single-track back to the start/finish area. Only another two laps to go.
The remainder of the race was apparently a blur. Whether that was because they were travelling so fast or because they were ever-so-slightly tired – well, you choose. Still, they finished well up the field with more BC points in the bag for both, their best run of points for years. And to cap it all off, they even managed to have their photo taken stood with Tim Gould, who they reckon could be the grumpiest man in the world. That’s a title our own John Barnett would readily and strongly dispute.
A great, muddy day out for Andrew and Peter and certainly a fitting tribute to Chris.
Fancy having a go at mountain biking yourself? Andrew and Peter will certainly offer you advice and support and you can find more about how to get into it on the British Cycling website here.