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The Mondraker XC boys headed to a snowy Sherwood Pines last weekend for the first round of the British Mountain Bike Series. Check out their report here

Report by Stephen Hodge

With British Summer time only a week away (according to the clocks anyway) it seemed ironic that as we piled into the van and headed out of Plymouth most of the country was being blanketed in snow. In fact, if you looked at the satellite images of our island from above it would appear we were going to have to drive right through the worst of it to get to the race site. Thankfully Britain's current reliance upon automobiles meant the main roads towards Nottingham were all perfectly clear and thanks to BBC's doomsday reporting upon the weather the roads were also low on traffic so our early start wasn't quite as needed as we had first thought. Only when we pulled off the M1 did we realise just how much snow the area had received and as we pulled into the Sherwood Pine visitor centre the consequence of the adverse weather hit home as did the realisation that we would be riding/racing in conditions unseen in the tropical South West.

The Sherwood Pine course was the usual scattering of tight singletrack laced together with fire trails with very little technical sections or hills to speak of. This meant that racing was going to be fast and very close but as we wheeled our new Mondraker Podium Carbon Pro race bikes out of the van we were excited to get riding.

Race Day

Dexter Hurlock - Expert

Having just moved up from sport Dexter was gridded right at the back of the expert field so had his work cut out right from the starting gun. The tight singletrack course didn't provide many places to overtake or pass riders and right from the start the course turned on to a slippery rutted section so a pile-up was always a worry.

From the gun Dexter found himself right up in the top 10 before the first singletrack but he soon got stuck behind a few slower riders which resulted in the lead group managing to pull away leaving him chasing hard but playing catch up for most of the race. On a dry course this would have been an easier task but with the freezing snow causing havoc and making for hard riding Dexter was having to work twice as hard to make up gound. He picked his way through the top 10 and into 4th place which was a great result for his first National level race in the expert catagory.

My Race (Stephen):

Like Dex, I have also just moved up a category from Expert to Elite and found myself gridded midway/back behind a field of seasoned elites and was pretty nervous on the start line. Having had a warm up in the blasting wind I decided to keep my leg and arm warmers on as well it was pretty chilly. The starting whistle went and with this so did the field leaving me fighting for position near the rear of the pack. I think this was down to nerves and I hopefully I will settle down a little earlier at the next round and improve on my starts.

My strategy was to avoid crashing in the rutty and snowy conditions and to pick riders off as the race went on but this turned out to be a little harder than I first through as the only time I managed to claw places back was on the fire roads leaving me with lots to do in the singletrack. Thankfully my high cadence drills in training came into play meaning when riders where in sight I was able to catch and steam past as I managed to work up the pack and cross the line in 41st place.

Bren's Race:

With a frustrating start to the season Brendan was determined to make amends at Sherwood Pine. Going into the first section of singletrack Brendan was just outside of the top 30 and as the race progressed he pick his way through the large veteran field to finish just outside of the top 20 in 23rd position. This was a solid result given the conditions and the size of the field he was racing against but I know he will be looking to move into the top of the field at the next round.

Although the team didn't come away with the results which we were all hoping for, we did return home happy with our experience and ready for the second round which takes place right in our Cornish back garden.

Current National Rankings

Dexter Hurlock - 1st Expert

Stephen Hodge - 3rd Elite

Brendan Murphy - 20th Vets

Keep up to date with the team over on their Facebook page

Full results from the race can be found here.

Photo Credit - Joolze Dymond

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