The 2nd round of the series travelled to the Midlands and the MTB XC stomping ground of Sherwood Pines. This venue has hosted many national and regional MTB XC events. The round was organised by Cpl James Hodson supported by his 16th Signal Regiment. The Forestry Commission had assisted massively as well to get this round up and running.
With the course at round 1 being dominated by the big climb this round’s circuit was much different, Sherwood is certainly not as hilly but has some fantastic twisty single track and long fire road drags which would all add up to fast aggressive racing.
Race 1 saw the Combined Service men and ladies off first. The RAF Team had arrived in numbers with some strong riders. It was set for fast and furious racing. Starting in 2 min gaps after the combined services race would be the Masters (40+), Grand Master (50+) and ladies races. The RAF team went out hard from the gun and had 5 riders out front into the first chicane The race was on and the Army Team began to claw back the places with the chase headed up by Maj Fick, SSgt Loynes and WO1 Marriott. Fl Lt Rose was in class on the own and would stay out front the whole race to comfortably take 1st place. The battle behind would be for 2nd and 3rd place. By the end of lap 2 Marriott had made it to 2nd place with Fl Lt Pearson being shadowed by Loynes in 3rd and 4th. Into lap 4 the three of them were together, a mishap for Marriott towards the end of the 4th and final lap saw him crash heavily allowing Pearson and Loynes to get away with Loynes eventually attacking and finishing 2nd with Pearson in 3rd place. The combined services ladies was won by Fl Lt Pearson with Maj Laycock 2nd and Maj Toop 3rd. The masters race was again won by WO1 Pearson who managed to hold off the chase of Maj Robinson in 2nd and Maj Lower in 3rd. With the grand masters a battle ensued between Maj Hendry and Capt Hale. In a reverse of round 1 Hale was the victor with Hendry in 2nd and WO2 Parkinson in 3rd. The ladies race was again dominated by WO2 Wheldon who led from the start with OCdt Drysdale 2nd and Bdr Mains 3rd.
Race 2 was the senior and under 23 men. This was the biggest field with over 100 riders taking part. After gridding and the tense seconds build up the riders were released by the starter. The uphill gallop to the chicane saw a big sprint to get to it first before the inevitable bottle neck. The first lap was hectic but after completing the first lap 2Lt Warner came through 1st with Cpl Craig and Maj Richards a few seconds behind. In fact the first 10 riders all came through within 40 seconds of one another. Warner aware of being chased put the hammer down and the gap back to Craig slowly began to ease out but Craig would not give in easily and continued to fight to bring Warner back. Richards was maintaining a steady pace keeping Craig in sight but looking over his shoulder to the chasers behind. Going into the final lap Warner had stretched out his lead to over a minute with Craig defending his 2nd place and Richards securing 3rd place to the finish. In the U23 race Spr Clayton who won round 1 had a fight on his hands with Cpl Stapleton. Stapleton managed to get the gap and hold it till the end to take the win with Clayton this time settling for 2nd. Cfn Lea had a great ride to finish 3rd.
A great event and circuit made for some close, fast and aggressive racing and by looking at the grins at the end and listening to the stories of dogfights out on the course all riders thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Cpl Hodson and his team had put on a superb event, many thanks to them. Also thanks to the Forestry Commission who hosted us superbly.
Army Cycling have some great sponsors and we are extremely grateful for their support;
ABF The Soldiers Charity, Army Sports Control Board, http://www.helyx.co.uk/
We now look forward to the Army Championships at Tidworth on 14 Jun 2017. The course will feature a few climbs, some great single track and some fast descents. Hopefully we can break our rider attendance record of 212 racers.