This was it the real start of the season the first round of the national points series, the biggest race of the year next to the one off national champs held later on in the year.
The venue, Sherwood Pines in Robin Hood country Nottingham has been the traditional kick off for the series for the last few years and always sees a sell out field in all classes as enthusiasm combined with a central location lure racers from all over to race the top riders in the country.
As usual the RIDE team were in full attendance making the early start for the long drive up to Sherwood Pines forest park. With what appeared to be a premature start to the summer and temps of the high teens forecast this would be a hot dry and fast race. Sherwood is not renowned for elevation and the real climbers would find little to get their teeth into, however the course provided an unusual amount of single track for this event which is usually famed for its wide open flat out fire roads, the trail crews had done some serious work cutting in a lot of new track which made great racing.
First up for the team was Carol Tilley racing in the grand veteran women's catagory, aboard her new Scott Scale hard tail she revelled in the warm conditions early in the day to post solid 3rd place against the countries leading vet ladies.
Next up Lloyd took to the start line, although oblivious to the carnage that had just unfolded in the start of the race prior to his own got away cleanly from his place towards the rear of the grid. As a new racer he has no ranking and has to earn points to move his start position up towards the front. The juniors may be a young bunch but the top boys post lap times within reach of the countries top pros and as such Lloyd can be happy with his 30th place in a field of just over 60.
With the young guns home safely it was the turn of the seasoned team riders to take to the start pens for their respective events. With visions of the start straight crashes from earlier in the day still in their minds tension was high for the biggest fields of the day! How would 120 vet riders get away crash free when the smaller numbers of earlier riders managed to pile up so spectacularly on the narrow start straight?
First away in the warm sunshine was Stuart in the masters category, who currently mining a rich seam of form managed to record a top 10,9th to be exact, no easy feat against the best 29-39 year old riders in the country. Gridded on the second row had clean start, one of the few today but never the less had to contend with the usual first lap tussles as the course bottle necked into the first narrow sections, Settled into a rhythm and was very pleased with a position on the first page of the results sheet.
Next away was the grand vets field containing our own Steve Moors. Now Steve has high hopes for this year and this would be the acid test, all his nearest rivals were on hand and it would be survival of the fittest.3 laps ensued of what Steve called the best course he's ever ridden at Sherwood, with his Trek Top Fuel delivering comfort at the same time as speed Steve posted 7th, his highest position at national level to date. A good indication that things are heading in the right direction as we head towards the national championships.
The final race of the day contained Mark Chadbourne, Ro Tilley and Jon Hayes in the largest field of the day the veterans category,39-49.With around 120 competitor a start place towards the front of the grid would be advantageous, fortunately both Mark and Ro had performed well enough to earn them a place on the front and second rows respectively .Mean while Jon a new face in the vet category had to start back in the cheap seats around the 5th or 6th row with no points from the previous years racing in masters to count. The race appeared to get away cleanly as the gun went off but half way down the start straight the cringe worthy sound of buckling metal and splintering carbon filled the air as 20 or so riders hit the ground after riders touched wheels or locked bars in their eagerness to get away quickly. Being on the front row Mark managed a clean get away while both Ro And Jon were delayed by the unfolding mayhem, Ro hitting the deck and adopting the foetal position as back markers piled into him Jon got lucky as a gap in the piled up riders appeared before him and he wasted no time in taking advantage as he Slipped through to give chase to the leaders while Ro had to pick his way through the pile of less fortunate bodies.
With the race in full flight both Jon and Ro fought hard for 4 laps with Jon managing to sneak inside the top 20 in 19th while Ro pushed hard to make up for earlier lost time for a 31st, it's worth noting that the experienced rider was getting quicker as the race went on in fact recording his fastest lap as his last!
Marks usual battle at the head of the race unfolded in what is becoming a well rehearsed scenario with the 4or 5 strongest vets in the country knocking lumps out of each other in return for points and bragging rights, this time it was Lewis King who took the win and even worked his way up to 3rd in the masters race which had started 2 mins in front of his own! Despite a mechanical and a congested head Mark put up an awesome display to take 4th look out next round he's baying for blood !!
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