20 August 2011, Fremington
Images & words - Joolze Dymond
Nutcracker Finale @ Dales Bike Centre
What a way to end a successful series! Views, sun, tough competition, old school course that certainly offered to put the mountain back into mountain biking and of course beers and burgers! The 4th and final round of the popular Nutcracker XC Series had it all! Fremington was almost definitely the place to be this weekend, with hosts Dales Bike Centre providing the Nutcracker crew with an excellent race headquarters while the competitors could fuel up on the legendary cake and coffee available in the café.
Nestled in the magnificent Swaledale valley, North Yorkshire, Fremington offered a technical course with a lung busting amount of climbing with the infamous 'Grind' more than living up to its name attracting riders from near and far - the furthest coming from New Zealand!!
The future racing stars started proceedings with the popular Sweat monsters children's racing kicking off at 12pm. Tons of youngsters enjoyed a competitive blast on their own special course while the more mature competitors had chance to get a taste of North Yorkshire MTB racing at its best.
Come 2.00pm and the entire race headed en mass to the foot of Fremington Edge where they were set of in their respective categories in 1 minute waves. Ahead lay an 8km course packed to the gunnels with enough mountain biking fun that should have ensured a permanent grin. However coming to grips pretty much early on with a tricky slog to the top of the moors, crossing fields over broken sections of dry stone walls across thick carpet like grass which sucked every ounce of strength you may have had in reserve may have not been to everyone's taste but the views and the sense of achievement when you got to the top had to be immense.
As you bettered the Grind a swift turn right and you were greeted by a swath of dazzling purple heather on a racy, rocky strewn descent that took you around the edge of the Grouse Moor leading to the alien landscape of the old lead works, while bemused sheep looked on.
The old lead working provided a contrast in terrain with the rough tracks replaced by an alien landscape of loose gravel mounds and craters that undulated in a roller coaster way delivering you to the very edge of the world. With the stunning vista of the Swaledale valley laid out before you, you had a split second to appreciate the view before hurtling into the abyss taking you back down to the hill snaking your way back to the beginning to start another lap.
The first man to crest the top leading a well strung out field was master rider Tony Fawcett. Taking the climbing in his stride Fawcett held his lead virtually unchallenged for 3 tough laps while the race splintered into its own pockets of race categories behind him. Female master winner Jane Chadwick suffering from mechanical problems ploughed on using the tough course as useful preparations for the World Singlespeed Champs in Ireland in a week's time! Elite rider Calum Chamberlain completed 4 laps reviling in the fantastic conditions to take the win, with local elite woman Jess Roberts grinning her way to a well earned and hard raced win in her race.
It was great to see newly crowned junior female champion Beth Crumpton wearing her jersey with pride as she tackled the Yorkshire grit for 2 tough laps with Jack Humphries holding off the tough competition in the junior men's race to take the win from Richard Johnson.
The whole day saw riders tough it out, racking up the laps in their respective race with one thing on their mind - finishing! Waiting to welcome them was beer and burgers as promised, which were all well deserved and all eagerly consumed while waiting for the results. A truly great end to a great series!
Results are available here.
Event images from Dave Yates Photography can be found here.
3 July 2011, Aske Nats Course
NIXON WINS AGAIN AT THE SUNDAY SUPPER RACE
With less than 2 weeks to go until the 2011 Dare2B British National XC MTB Championships, we invited all of the series regulars to take part in a low-key event on part of the National course at Aske. With some major changes having taken place to the course over the last few weeks, there were some pleasantly surprised expressions on the riders' faces as they raced the "Troll Trail" section of the course, aptly named after course designer Adey.
Not only a pilot event for the course, but also for the new simple short-course racing format that we had devised for a potential evening series in 2012, racing kicked off at 7pm with 2 categories: Under 16 and Over 16. Competition was strong in both categories but clear winners were present in both races, with Alan Nixon and Billy Harding romping away from the rest of their fields in the Over 16 and Under 16 categories respectively. Tony Fawcett and Dan Cook came home in 2nd and 3rd after a race-long tactical battle in the Over 16 event, with first lady Jessica Roberts following closely behind. Meanwhile, Tom Parkin and Jonathan Dobson came home in 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Under 16 category.
"Amazing! Probably the best course I've ridden all year – can't wait to race it!" Jessica Roberts, WXC World Racing
Entries are now closed for all Championship categories for the British XC Champs, although they remain open for the Fun, Open and Sport categories, for which racing takes place on Saturday 16th July on the full course. We have also released details of the "Nutcracker Skills Academy", which will be piloted on the evening of Friday 15th July on the National course. Riders entered for the Fun and Open categories are eligible to take part in the Skills session, which will be led by Nutcracker MTB coach Nick Piper. Pre-booking is essential – contact us for more info. Results are available here.
Round 3 - 19th June 2011, Report & Images Joolze Dymond
With 2 rounds already done and dusted for this year, a healthy and encouraging attendance were pretty eager to get round 3 under their belts. A return to Camp Hill was on the cards, used extensively last year, this virtually flat and fast course is ideal for those keen to give the sport a go but also leaves no stone unturned for those more experienced. It may not have the rough and tumble of some of the more technical courses but what it lacked in climbs and rocks it soon made up for in berm tastic singletrack.
The first race got underway sharply at 10am with the Youth, Juvenile and Fun riders ready to do the business on the bone dry course. A slight incline at the start gave the riders a quick warm up as they started the procession into the surrounding natural terrain, with bystanders and livestock watching the action unfold. In the Youth race Billy Harding was obviously hungry for the win, devouring the course with an unrelenting appetite leaving the rest of the field to pick up the crumbs, taking the win with a 4 min gap over 2nd placed Ben Pygott. Despite losing her drink bottle early on the first lap Paige Coope kept pushing on to grab a convincing win in the Youth girls race with Libby Greatorex picking up 2nd and Jess O'Brien 3rd. It was a much closer affair in the juvenile race, though Chris Barnes threw down the gauntlet early on leading from the start to take the win, despite the efforts of 2nd placed Thomas Mein, while Amira Mellor rode a strong race in the juvenile girls race to take a commanding win. In the fun race a tricky first lap for Alistair Black left the door wide open for army rider Shaun Dutton. Despite a fast second lap, wiping 4 minutes off his start lap, Black didn't quite have enough in the tank to get back to Dutton who emerged victorious, with Black and Roper in hot pursuit, just 40 secs separating 1st from 3rd. Ruth Midgley ploughed a lonely furrow in the fun women's event, hopefully round 4 and the thought of cake may encourage more women to come and have a go!
As race two got underway, the weather gods decided to throw a wild card into the mix. Dark rain leaden clouds started empting their contents, thick and fast over the circuit, transforming the once fast flowing singletrack into a fast flowing mud bath for the first couple of laps. As the rain began to ease the riding got harder as the slop turned to thick gear crunching grime that coated everything, rider and machine until one was virtually undistinguishable from the other! While the weather was having it's fun, the riders battled on. Expert Neil Hayward made short work of his 6 laps taking the win after nearly 149 mins of racing, while sole elite rider Danielle Rider made her way round the 5 laps in just over 21/2hrs. The sports men's race was better subscribed, but Matt Brown left the competition standing as he carved his way through the thickening mire to take the win with a healthy 4 min lead over 2nd placed Robert Upton, his haul of prizes supplemented with a probably much needed shower gel sample I just happened to have in my pocket!
By race 3 the weather gods obviously had gone for an afternoon snooze and the sun was soon out mopping up the dampness, leaving the trails a little tacky but not slippery, the going was now decidedly good to firm yet again.
Now it was time for the elder statesmen (and women) of the sport to show their hand. First off were the masters with Tony Fawcett leading the way, 2 mins later in hot pursuit were the vets, with the grand and super vets bringing up the rear.
Fawcett had taken off like a scalded cat and by lap two the rider with him in his sights was vet Noel Clough. 'Cross rider Clough, looking to take on the might of the XC vets at the upcoming Nationals was keen to catch the fast moving master. With a 2 min advantage Fawcett was looking elusive, but over the 4 laps Clough chipped away at his lead coming in less than a minute behind the winning master Fawcett, to take the vet win.
Meanwhile the race behind continued in earnest for the minor placings. In the masters Ben Hallworth and James Metcalfe duelled for the runners up spot with Hallworth just holding off Metcalfe for that honour. In the Vets Kenny Johnson was happy to hold his own, racking up a creditable 2nd just under 5mins ahead of 3rd placed John Hick. Grand Vet Duncan Stuart held onto is fast start to take the win ahead of Ian Robson.
It was a pleasant sight to see a healthy turn out for women riders with Helen Macgregor taking the win in the women's vet race and Karen Howard picking up first in the grand vets.
As the year unfolds with masses of regional XC races tucked into every corner of the UK, catering for all comers to the sport of cross country racing it's excellent to see the Northern territory is in the safe hands of the enthusiastic Nutcracker crew. If you fancy sampling some northern delights (and there is rumour there will be cake…) come out and have a go at round 4 on the 20th August. Situated in the breathtaking venue of Fremigton, Swaledale and brought to you in conjunction with the Dales Bike Centre, the final round of this little cracker of a series is sure to end with a bang! Make sure you're there.
Results are available here.
Event images courtesy of Dave Yates Photography can be found here
Round 2 - 15th May 2011
Provisional Results are available here.
Race images courtesy of Dave Yates Photography can be found here
The Nutcracker XC Series returned to the plush Aske Estate, home to Lord Zetland – the Earl of Ronaldshay, for round 2 on the 15th May. The event doubled as the North of England XC Championship and with the medals at stake, competition was fierce!
Early birds were greeted by a pleasant morning upon arrival, with broken cloud and sunshine and little wind. This was soon to change, with intermittent showers and a strong northwesterly wind rearing their ugly heads by mid morning.
Race 1 kicked off with a strong field in all 3 categories; Juvenile, Youth and Fun. Competition amongst the Youth and Juvenile categories was at its highest level yet in any of the Nutcracker events, with riders also appearing from Scotland to recce the venue ahead of the forthcoming British National XC Championship in July. One of these was Calum Magowan of the Peebles CC who took the Juvenile race win ahead of Seacroft's Chris Barnes. With Magowan being Scotland based and uneligible for the Championship title, Barnes took the gold medal for the North of England Juvenile XC Championship, ahead of Matthew Worton and Thomas Mein. Good to see some new faces in the youth field, providing Richardson's rider and Nutcracker regular Mike Thompson with some much needed competition. Ben Miller took the race win ahead of Thompson, but again due to Miller's Scottish residency the gold medal on the day fell to a very deserving Mike Thompson. Nick Corlett of the Manx squad and local lad James Edmond of the Ferryhill Wheelers took the silver and bronze medals respectively in the North of England Championship. A bigger than usual fun squad included Hope Technology boss Ian Weatherall, whose son William incidentally finished 10th in the Juvenile category. The fun category was won by gravity chaser Dave Nicholson of the Hamsterley Trailblazers, who swapped his downhill roots for an into-the-wind uphill battle! James Carlton and Kam Nicholson followed closely behind. A strong Dirtwheels Cycles presence in the ladies Fun race saw Ruth Midgley take the win ahead of Louise Burnett and Laura Rhodes. Meanwhile, Amira Mellor took the race win and North of England Championship title in the Juvenile category, ahead of Stirling's Erika Allen and Peebles' Eve Hanlon Cole. Motorpoint's Alice Barnes took the on-the-day Youth win ahead of Libby Greatorex, with Greatorex going home with the Championship title.
11.30 saw the start of race 2; Elite, Expert, Junior and Sport. Again – with the strongest ever Elite field, racing was tough and it took its toll on an unwell Paul Oldham of Hope Factory Racing, who sadly had to retire after just 1 lap due to illness. Get well soon Paul – only a few days left until the Irish Tour! Team mate Dave Collins ploughed on to victory ahead of Tom Bell, who, due to Dave being Leicester based, was crowned Senior North of England XC Champion. With a similarly sized field in the Expert category, competition was stiff and Tom Stewart of event sponsors BBM Bikes took the race win ahead of Douglas Shearer and Hamish Fletcher Cooney. Event sponsors were also participating in the Sport category and Matt Brown of Team Inov8 ironically rode home to finish 2nd and win an Inov8 race pack, just behind Tom Albutt. Local boy Darren Binks of Northallerton-based Hambleton Road Club finished in 3rd. At the younger end of the scale, local lads Joe Home and Jack Humphreys had some tough competition with additional riders turning up from other regions to compete. Hugo Robinson of XRT Elmy Cycles took the race win ahead of Fietson Tempo's Joe Home. An appearance from Torq's Lee Craigie saw her take the race win in the Elite female category, whilst Jacqui Fletcher of the Manx squad took the victory in the Experts.
A huge field in race 3 at 2pm took the total number of riders on the day to just over 230 and a last minute entry from the condemned man, Alan Nixon of Blackhawk Bikes paid off as he walked away as the Masters North of England XC Champion at the end of the day! Alan is scheduled to be married tomorrow and we wish him and his partner all the best for their special day and hope that he'll be able to remove the shackles in 4 weeks to return for Nutcracker 3! Back on to the subject in hand, Noel Clough steamed home to take the North of England title in the Veteran category whilst Bruce Rollinson put in another storming performance to take the Grand Veteran title. A late decision by the organisers to include a separate Super Veteran category saw Rollinson's JD Cycles team mate Reg Haigh take the Championship title in this category. Excellent also to see bigger fields in the ladies' categories with some good 1-1 racing and competition. Although taking the on the day win in the Vets category with a superb performance, VC Lincoln's Helen Macgregor was uneligible for the Championship title and a well deserving Ruth Thompson of Richardson's Cycles took home the Gold Medal and Championship title, closely followed by Dirtwheels' Nicky Hartle. Following a forced retirement at Round 1 due to injury, a determined Karen Payton of Cyclesport Pendle took the silverware and Championship title in the Grand Veteran category. It proved to be a good day all round for the Dirtwheels Cycles girls, with Jane Chadwick romping home to a gold medal and Championship title in the Masters category. Well done to all.
The Nutcracker XC Series returns for round 3 on Sunday 19 June at Camp Hill, near Bedale in North Yorkshire. Entries are already open, so if you haven't already done so be sure to get your entries in now! The British National XC Championship, brought to you by Dare2B, follows on the 16/17 July at Aske on a slightly revised course and featuring a couple of little "surprises" for all those thinking that it was too easy! Entries are also open for this event, which features non-championship races for those not wishing to compete in the championship itself. There's also a party on the Saturday evening with a fully licensed bar and entertainment! Not one to be missed...
Round 1 - 24th April 2011
Easter Sunday saw the first event of the 2011 Series, returning after a successful inaugural 6 events through 2010.
The event was hosted at Gandale, an MOD training area near Richmond, North Yorkshire, last used by the very popular NEMBA series in the 1990's. The event was blessed with superb weather and attracted an entry of over 200 riders across all the classes on the main course, complemented by the Series' own "Sweatmonsters Academy" u12 event. This was managed by the BC Yorks Regional Cycling Development Team on a mini course and continues to grow, attracting around 50 riders of all ages. The infamous Sweatmonster inflatable was unfortunately missing, stuck in transit back from Germany where it had been on duty at the Alpine Skiing World Championships. Rest assured, love it or hate it, it will be at the next round !
Dave Yates Event Photography were on hand to capture the action, the images can be found here
Prizes were supplied by Dare2B, who return as main sponsors for the Series in 2011 along with RWD Brakes (Race Winning Designs). We were pleased to welcome our new retail partner, BBM Bikes of Knottingley () , headed by Premier Calendar regular Ashley Brown and homebase for the former Team Sportscover Road Racing Team.
The format remains the same throughout the series with the next event at Aske, near Richmond on Sunday May 15th. This venue was also used at the same time last year and, blessed with similar superb weather, received excellent feedback. With its designation as the Northern Regional Championships, it should be noted that double ranking points are on offer in all categories.
The SweatMonsters Academy was well represented at the first round of this years series. Over fifty little bikers turned up and registered for the British Cycling Go-Ride event. Under the expert eye of Andy Samanjoul, the monsters would be timetrialing first, followed by a mass race on a tricky course set out alongside the start field. With faces full of steely eyed determination, on both the parents and the mini XC racers, competition was fierce!
All in all it was a great turnout and a fun days racing was enjoyed by all, helped no doubt by the glorious weather and superb location. The academy is proving to be a very popular addition to the Nutcracker XC Series and maybe we are developing the next world champion from within our ranks. The Sweatmonster Academy will be in full effect at the next round of the Nutcracker XC - 15th May Aske Estate