The first round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears series at Tunstall Forest in Suffolk had the potential to be a really grim muddy affair. It was still quite a slog in places but nowhere near as bad as it could have been. Five riders from Team CCN/Torq/Chain Reaction Cycles/Streetlife took to the start line, here are their race reports:
Richard Dunnett – Sport male
As this was the first ‘short and sharp’ race I had competed in since my around the world ride I was really looking forward to getting going and seeing if my lungs could handle the pace for approx 1.5 hrs of full gas fun.
My eagerness to get going was soon made public when the starting gun fired as I gave it all I had to make my way through the group of riders who started in front of me. With this effort I soon found myself with a clear route ahead and the other riders dropping off behind, and I was feeling quite comfortable with the pace.
I maintained a quite high pace for the first two laps and thought I had a good lead and got a bit complacent. With this I was caught by another rider who passed me. Stupidly I didn't up my effort enough to match his pace and soon a gap formed, but I wasn't to concerned because I thought he was racing in a different category to me so I didn't need to worry to much.
Coming into the last lap (although I didn't realise it was the last) I noticed my mistake but by now it was too late and I had to settle for second place. But all in all I left the race feeling pleased with how I rode and I had plenty left in the tank. So the lesson learnt for next race is "use your head as well as your legs you stupid boy!"
Tom Stanford – Sport male
Stood at the start waiting to go, hoping it wasn't going to start raining. The race started and everybody seemed to come flying past me, leading me to realise that the tyres I had chosen were slower than I first thought on the practice lap, until we got further round the course where the muddy sections were and they gave me plenty of traction and grip where other people were struggling to stay upright. I kept on at the pace I had settled in to and managed to pull a few people back. I thought the course was quite good, other than the sticky mud in places made it exceedingly hard work. After five laps of tough riding I ended up coming 13th, a place I wasn't particularly happy with. Going to get down to some hard training to be ready for the second round.
Shaun Aldous – Master male
I had an average race, looking at the grid I was a possible winner of the Masters cat, that was soon out the window as off the start Gabor Doroghazi (Fruit4London) went through the Elite/Experts and off up the trail on his own. I struggled for power in the boggy bits, but knocked out five laps as fast as I could to eventually take the final masters podium spot. Winner Robert Purcell (Neon Velo) passed me midway round the first lap maintaining a consistent fast pace to overhaul early leader Gabor Doroghazi.
Jason Smith – Master male
On a day forecast for biblical rains it was much to our surprise to start the race without having felt a drop, let alone being drenched. Races at Tunstall are renowned for getting riders rambling about the rubbish British weather; this was indeed a fortuitous development.
Five minutes into the race however and things are starting to turn sour: I’ve lost touch with the lead group and then a saturated patch of the forest drains my legs of power. It’s not going to be a good race! Into the distance my aspirations of a podium finish vanish amongst the trees, and with this I realise what’s wrong: my legs feel empty as my stomach is still digesting lunch (a combination of GPS failure and the race being in the wilds of Suffolk left myself and team mate less than an hour from arrival at the venue and the start of the race – and I still had to eat something)!
Composing myself over the first two laps – of the five lap race – I try to ride as smoothly as possible through the narrow tracks in an attempt to conserve what little energy I have. As my body comes to terms with the ordeal it’s under I start to focus mentally.
My final lap is quicker than the previous which was quicker than the third, and for my efforts I’m rewarded with finally catching some rivals to finish 5th.
The Mud Sweet and Gears round 1 course challenged me physically and mentally, but this was due mainly to my own mistakes. The lesson of the day: pre-race preparation is just as important as the race itself. And eating within an hour of the race certainly isn’t good preparation.
Darren Evans – Veteran Male
Not being well my expectations were low which was just as well, my body is a wreck right now and despite an entire race at 174 AV HR I reluctantly watched fellow competitors who I would normally be minutes per lap ahead of simply ride out of site :(.
My goal for the day was simply to finish on the grid for the start of round 2 where I plan on starting my season proper. So although demoralising I kept pushing with that goal in mind and eventually pulled back in some riders giving me a 2nd row grid slot. Unfortunately with just over 1 mile from the finish a puncture. I quickly flipped the bike and pulled the wheel out, I soon found the thorny culprit and in desperation quickly slapped a patch on and gassed the wheel back up having not been passed again by this point.
Unfortunately my rush job didn’t last and I ended up riding a flat rear tyre back and losing 3 positions in the dying metres for 16th place and 3rd row of the grid at round 2. Time to recover properly and get some quality training done before the next round in 4 weeks time.