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National Round 2, Newnham Park; Race Report from Sam Humphrey.

This weekend saw the OFFCAMBER team take on the second round of the national series down in the sunny south west on what turned out to be the most technical course to date.The race organisers view is that the only level of competition higher than nationals are world cups so they feel the courses should reflect that! I think everyone would agree……for some, just getting to the finish line in one piece was an achievement in itself.

With super steep climbs, rock gardens, high consequence steep drop ins and slippery rocks and roots both bikes and riders were tested to the limit.

After a wet Friday, a nasty slime layer coated the rocks in a few places making for a few heart in mouth moments for the Saturday races which saw both Zoe and Tony head into battle first. It’s clear to see that Zoe’s skill level is rising as on the first lap she seemed to confidently negotiate the “cottage carnage” drop followed by the “quarry drop” on her way to a fantastic second place, she crossed the line with a combination of joy and relief at a job well done on a really tough course. Tony had a great start and held on up the long first climb arriving at “cottage carnage” in third, using well honed motocross skills he tackled the A line and looked strong heading into the next climb. Towards the end of the lap the course disappeared into “derriford drop” where Tony arrived a bit quick, slightly crossed up, and proceeded to plough into it……with heart in mouth he fired out of the compression with tyres squashed, forks and rear shock bottomed out but managed to hold it together to make the finish in an awesome second place with really solid lap times, both are now riding high in the rankings going forward to Yorkshire in three weeks.

Sunday saw the old guys compete in the vets class…..otherwise known as elite 2 ! A little bit of rain in the morning had people questioning tyre choices but it soon passed and the sun came out. A crazy fast start into the first climb set the tone and a lead group with myself formed on lap one only splitting towards the end of the lap forcing everyone to settle in to their own manageable pace…..for some the climbs were where they excelled, others used the technical sections to claw back time. Crashes on some of the A lines meant course changes mid race which confused us as we set up for a line only to find a Marshall telling us to turn left or right to avoid the carnage ! Best wishes to all those who hit the floor……a speedy recovery to you. While all this was going on, Andy was quietly using his technical skills to work his way up through the pack to eventually cross the line in a brilliant 19th place, proof that if you can really ride a bike then it will pay off on a tough course like this one. I eventually managed 6th place after having a less than stellar race…….but I am in one piece and really looking forward to the next few events, it seems the level is really high this year and if you are not feeling on top form, the penalty is quite severe! But when all is said and done, it’s one of the reasons we race….to really test ourselves.

With half the team racing the Scott spark, and the others on Giants we can all say that the equipment we chose was pushed hard this weekend, I love my Spark and the facility to control the travel for the climbs as well as its low weight and being over six foot I feel the 29″ wheels works well for me, the Giants on the 27.5 ‘s clearly worked well on the technical sections too, going to prove that there is no perfect wheel size……more just what works for you…….all you need is a shop that tests the kit and sells both! I wonder where that could be?

Coming up next is the southern xc at Wasing, followed by the national at Dalby on the old World Cup circuit…….OFFCAMBER will be there……the local shop with local riders taking on the best in the country……..

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