Gorrick 100

It’s been a while since I posted anything on here. This has not been down to a lack of things to talk about, quite the opposite in fact. I’ll post the edited highlights up here over the next couple of weeks, should be enough to provide me with material for some time.

I’ll start with the Gorrick 100, which despite the name is a 112km race around Swinley forest. I had been at university in nearby Reading for three years and it probably says something about my education that I recognised the vast majority of the trails used for the race course but had managed to get lost in the town itself the night before.

I was coming into the race laying third in the UK Endurance Series, as Craig helpfully pointed out on the start line, not that I was a marked man or anything! There were shorter options available for the fun category riders but the 92 of us doing the full distance were first away at 8am. I got a front-row spot on the grid, although it was on the wetter and dirtier side of the course.

Craig got a very good start, beating me into the first corner, a left hander only 20 yards from the line which lead into the first climb. He somehow managed to flick a lump of mud right into my eye with his rear tyre. Not a good time to be half blind, with 90-odd riders (OK, some of them are odder than others) trying to get to the top of the climb first to be first into the singletrack.

Thanks to Mike from First Gear Cycles for the picture.

Rather unusually we all got down the first descent with no problems, I was in about 10th place, we turned right onto the fireroad at the bottom and the mad sprint began again. I heard the crash in front of me before I saw it, I looked up and saw a bike cartwheeling down the track in front of me, a body doing likewise on the opposite side of the track. I managed to get between the two, loosing very little speed and carried on in pursuit of those in front of me. Because of the shape of the course this section was in full view of the main arena so there was no need for any of us to stop to pick him up. I found out later that it was Chris Noble, he got a neck brace and a ride in an ambulance, then a couple of X-rays and a CT scan before being officially declared ‘Alive’ and released.

The course itself was pretty good, it was also a lot drier than I had expected it to be. We had had a lot of rain at home, in fact Britain had had it’s wettest April ever recorded, but it appears that the southerners had escaped the worst of it. Being Swinley there were no major climbs or downhill sections, the largest was less than 100ft, but the course constantly undulated and the surface, a curious mixture of sand and pine-needles, really took one’s energy away. I was pleased to see that one of the swoopy descents from the little plateau was part of the track, always good fun. There was one new section which I had not seen before, a long section of switchbacks and little bombholes from somewhere out near Crowthorne to the place where The Full Nine Yards joins the main fireroad.

I had three pretty quick laps before I slowed a little with two slower laps, and then my second wind arrived and the final two laps were a decent pace again. There was a brief comedy moment on the third lap, charging along the fireroad out the back of the course near the MOD land I was sitting on the rear wheel of the man in front, trying to gain a bit of a slipstream. He shouted “Duck!” This was a wide section, easily twenty feet between the trees at the sides, no chance of an overhanging branch, but of course when he shouted I lifted my eyes off the track and looked upwards. The pair of mallards which took flight quacking and squarking from in front of him missed my head by a couple of inches, made me jump a little.
Jeremy Patterson caught and passed on the last lap, about five miles from the end. I tried my best to stick with him, keep him sight. The pair of us managed to catch, pass and then drop both Steve James and Anthony Grey, they couldn’t keep up with our little battle and quickly fell behind. Ultimately Patterson proved a little too strong for me and he took 21st place, six seconds ahead of me, I finished in 7hr10min51sec.

Next up will be a report from the 24hr World Championship, once I’ve tracked down some photos to go up here with it.

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