Sometimes the Scottish autumn weather can put a wee bit of a damper on things… but not last Saturday! Ok, it had been pouring down for 48 hours before the race day, and during the day there were a whole series of pretty huge downpours…. but there was no way the rain was going to dampen the spirits of the73 young riders who turned out for the 3rd round of the Big Tree Campervans Tayside & Fife Youth Mountain Bike Series! Comrie Croft was the venue for the event, and it was run as part of the annual “Hairy Coo” mountain bike event, which attracts riders of all ages to the excellent cycle facilities at Comrie Croft.
The format for this event was a little different – this was real Endurance racing, as all age groups needed to race for a gruelling 60 minutes around a pre-set course. The course design was really excellent for this type of event (thanks Comrie Croft!), and it gave some testing uphill narrow single-track through beautifully wooded areas, and some fast downhill gravel track sections… it even had a tight loop round a Big Tree Campervan in full view of the cheering supporting crowd!
The U16 and U14 race was first up, and after a very muddy 60 minutes, Conor Nally, Douglas Carachie and Brandon Gonsales all managed an impressive six laps, but Conor putting in an overall fastest time to take first place in the U16 Boys race. These three riders have been battling it out hard in the previous rounds, and whilst Conor is looking strong, it will be interesting to see how the top three places pan out by the end of the series. Hope Jensen managed a very muddy 4 laps to win the Girls U16 category. The U14 Boys race was dominated by Conner Johnstone (Team Leslie Bike Shop), who managed 6 laps in under 64 minutes, with Craig Dobbins from Perth City Cycles coming second, and Conor Stevenson riding with Tay Titans managing a cool third place – special mention to Michael Mauchlin (Tay Titans) who made a big improvement on 6th and 8th places in previous rounds to finish in an exhausted 4th place!
It was then time for the mass start of the U8, U10 and U12, and with over 50 riders gathering at the start. There was a huge spread of age and ability (from 3 years old on push bikes to strong 12 year olds) and so the field quickly opened out. The mud churned up even deeper as riders got more and more tired… and more and more muddy!
In the U8 boys, Gavin Gronkowski (Muckyriderz) and Jake Rennie (Carnegie Cylcones) have been fighting hard for the top two places in the series so far. This time it was Gavin who scooped the first place honours and Jake had to settle for an exhausted second place, with Tom Campbell pleased to be in third place! Holly Blundell (Tay Titans) was visibly delighted with her 3rd place in the U8 Girls, and this time it was Heather Wilson who scooped first place and Helen Graf (Mukyriderz) second – Helen and Heather have been battling hard in the previous rounds of the series, and much like some of the other categories, it will be interesting to see who picks up the Series Prize in this category! Finton Price (Carnegie Cyclones) has been having an excellent series, and this was no exception as he powered through to his third impressive victory in the U10 Boys, with James Wilson taking second, and Shaun Holden (Tay Titans) managing an impressive 3rd place in his first race of the series.
It was a good day for the Blundell family as Fern Blundell (Tay Titans) won the U10 Girls race, and Tea Jensen (Leslie Bikeshop) took first place in the U12 Girls with Georgina Perry (Glasgow Riderz) The U12 Boys race saw a really strong performance by Kier Robb (Team Bicycles) who managed an impressive 10 laps of this tough course, with teammate Rory McGuire in second place, and an extremely muddy, and extremely happy, Cameron Chisolm (Tay Titans) in third place.
Special thanks to all the folk at Comrie Croft for putting on such a great day, and despite the weather, one of the best events so far in the series!
So, an wet, muddy and fun fun event with lots of impressive performances from all the young riders, and impressive supporting from all the parents, carers and supporters. The highlight for me, was a superb wee moment when 5 year-old Tavish Tares of Tay Titans came hammering down the hill towards the sharp turn round the campervan … in full view of the audience it seemed he’d left it too late to slow down for the difficult bend… Tavish was pulling haaaard on his breaks… he was still going too fast… the crowd were hushed in expectation of a horrible crash… then Tavish simply flicked his foot out to one side, ground the edge of his wellie into the gravel … and executed the best skid 120 degree turn anyone had ever seen! The crown went wild with applause… and young Tavish grinned his way up the hill!