It’s not yet the end of March but we’re already at the final of the 2015 Gorrick Spring Series. Which must mean it’s summer right? Well the sun was out but the temperature at the start was anything but summery, short sleeves will have to wait for a couple of weeks.

The overall series had been an early season target of mine. I went into the final round in a relatively safe second overall but with a sizeable point deficit to overall leader Phil Pearce. Given Phil had won the previous two rounds the overall win was looking pretty unlikely. It hadn’t helped that I’d been sick since the previous weekend with first a stomach bug then a nice grizzly cough, the joys of having young children!

A quick practice lap revealed another really good course from the Gorrick team. 100% dry, a couple of fast descents led into some short uphill kicks, carrying your speed through the descents really helped and the full suspension Cannondale Scalpel made this much easier! There were a couple of really fun twisty bits, the section of the start was particularly good. To round things off there was a tough fire-road section that dragged before kicking up, but it was only short so not too difficult.

Off the start I didn’t feel too bad and felt relatively comfortable sat in around 8th. I decided to move up and pushed on. Only, nothing happened! Pushing hard on the climbs I was losing time. As Paul Sherwen would say “Bridge to engine room, more power! And there was none!” By the end of the lap I’d moved up one place but had completely lost sight of the front group. Pushing on I caught Oli Stean on the long drag mid-way through the second lap, I urged Oli to jump on my wheel, hoping we could work together. Somewhat lacking in top end power I tried to take advantage of the Scalpel’s amazing suspension through the bumpy sections to make up time and before the end of the third lap I could Chris Rothwell to move up to 6th. This was better! Encouraged, I kept pushing but without going too hard which resulted in me coming to a wheezing stop! On the third lap I caught sight of the Hope train of Dan Booth and Dave Collins and put in a big dig on the long drag to catch back up. Dave then lost a bit of ground on the short, rooty climb to the finish leaving Dan and me to start the fourth lap together.

Midway round the fourth lap Dan worked out we’d lost Dave so sat up a bit. I kept the pressure on a bit without going flat out. On one of the fast descents I got a little gap and then powered up the rise out of the dip. I had a small gap now so kept the pace high. Well, as high as I could. Starting the final lap I had a gap of around 10 seconds, full gas time as they would say in Euro speak! I nailed the descent out of the arena, gracefully carving turns in the loamy soil, sailing over the small dips…before clipping my pedal on a root and narrowly missing a tree! This always seems to happen, you get a few corners spot on, think, actually I’m pretty good at this singletrack stuff..then you bin it! Fortunately I kept it together. Towards the end of the last lap I nearly ran out of a puff. I was a big wheezing, snotty mess and I wanted it all to end now please! I reached for an emergency ClifBar gel which gave me a little boost. I’d built up enough of a gap over Dan and Dave and although I caught sight of Lee Gratton in third, the gap then opened up again as I wheezed to the finish. I was pretty disappointed but fourth place was pretty ok all considering and it meant I secured second overall.

A big thanks to the Gorrick team for putting on another superb series, looking forward to the Autumn Classics already.

A couple of weeks off racing now. Next up for me is the first European Marathon of the season, the Roc Laissaigais in south west France. 87km with 3,050m of’s a bit lumpy!

Words: Tim Dunford – Renvale Race team /

Results for Round 4 of the Gorrick Saddle Skedaddle can be found here –