Wednesday 28 September 2016 at Hungey Hill Aldershot Capt Tiny Simmonds and WO1 Stu Crighton organised the 2016 Inter Service and Army MTB XC Championship as well as the final round of the MTB XC Race Series. The course was approx 4.5km in length and was dominated by a tough 30% climb which was a stern test of climbing legs. There was also lots of twisty single track and some very fast and fun downhill sections thrown in as well. All this combined with the many short sharp climbs would mean that all riders had to pace the race in order to keep position. The car park soon filled up and 183 riders took part in the event.
The Inter Service Race was contested by 3 teams of 8 riders and lined up at the front of the grid with the rest of the field lined up behind. The Army Team consisted of Maj Angela Laycock, Maj Rich Hunt, Capt Bruce Spilsbury,Capt David Marini, WO1 Jason Marriott, WO2 Peter Sutton, SSgt Graham Rogerson and SSgt Mark Whittaker. A very strong team to represent the Army in what always is a highly competitive race. The race began and the start straight was a 1km sprint gardullay uphill to the tough 30% climb. There was plenty of elbows out and blocking overtaking moves up the climb with the RAF team having 4 riders more or less trying to block the track in order to allow their front riders to get away. Just after the climb disaster struck the Army Team when Capt Spilsbury punctured and his tyre would not reseal which then required him to run 3.5km with his bike to the technical zone to sort the issue. The remaining riders battled on trying to keep position. At this stage 2 RAF riders closely followed by a RN rider where being chased by SSgt Rogerson, WO1 Marriott and Maj Hunt with the rest of the team chasing hard behind.
Maj Laycock riding very strongly began to steadily pull away from the other ladies in the race. JSgt Rogerson hs a mishap just as he was closing in on the front group when he lost his front wheel on a fast sweeping bend and by the time he was up and going again he had lost sight of those leaders. The punishing pace continued but just as the 2nd lap was starting another disaster befell the Army Team when Maj Hunts chain snapped. Again another long chaseon foot to the technical zone ensued for him. The race then settled down for the next few laps with the 1st and 2nd place riders from the RAF steadily pulling away. SSgt Rogerson was chasing hard for the 3rd place RN rider. The course was a real energy sapper with the tough steep climb and many short sharp banks climbs steadily taking their toll, those who had not kept their powder dry began to suffer. The race was for 6 laps and by laps 5 and 6 there were many tired legs on the course.
Sgt Lewis RAF crossed the line as the 2016 Inter Service MTB XC Champion with Fl Lt Rose RAF in 2nd and PO Mckenzie RN in 3rd. SSgt Rogerson Army was 4th, WO1 Marriott Army was 6th with the rest of the Army Team following close behind. To their credit both Capt Splilsbury and Maj Hunt fixed their bikes and completed their race.
In the Inter Service Ladies Race Maj Laycock Army riding very strongly crossing the line to become the Inter Service MTB XC Ladies Champion.
With 2 Army team riders suffering mechanical's it was a big ask to come back from and as such the RAF rode a strong race to be crowned The Inter Service Champions for 2016.
The Army Championship also included the Team riders, so straight away the race was on for the rest of the field to hotly chase those in front. The racing mirrored that of the Inter Services Race where pacing was vital to a good result. Maj Ficke and Capt Morini battled hard for 3rd place in the senior men with the result that Capt Morini crossed the line by seconds in 3rd place. WO2 Sutton put in a strong ride to become the Senior Mens champion with Cpl Carr putting in a storming ride to finish second.
In the ladies race Maj Laycock stayed ahead the whole race to take the podium as the Army Ladies Champion. Maj Evans had a accomplished ride taking second place with Maj Hennis rounding off the podium in 3rd.
Veterans Champion was SSgt Rogerson with Pte Clayton taking the U23 crown.
In the Team contest the Minor Unit Champions were the Royal Engineer Warfare Wing and Major Unit Champions being Army HQ.
The overall series contest again involved lots of number crunching by WO1 Stu Crighton and all credit to him for getting this all sorted out on the day so awards could be given.
So the overall standing for each category within the 2016 Army MTB XC Series are:
1 - SSt Anthony Ingoe
2 - Maj Alex Ficke
3 - LCp Nolan
1 - Capt Sewell
2 - SSgt Smith
3 - SSgt Wheldon
SSgt Graham Rogerson
Royal Engineer Warfare Wing
So, that's the 2016 season all complete. A great season of riding with some great venues. We averaged 150 riders per event, an improvement on last year. Looking forward to next year we have a few new venues where riders can experience great trails but as always we need individuals / units to organise these. Putting on a race is straight forward and the XC Team are always on hand to advise and assist. If you think you can put on a race next season please get in touch with the Series Coordinator WO1 Stu Crighton.
Have a great winter and see you all racing next season.