Sunday, 11th January saw riders from North Devon heading down to Plymouth for Round 1 of the Soggy Bottom XC Series at Newnham Park. In total over 170 riders took part in a number of different races and lengths during the course of the day. The mountain bike course was a mixture of steep descents covered with tree routes, boulders and at one point a cold water crossing. It ran across farm land and natural obstacles, the course was designed to test the riders abilities and endurance in race conditions.
Taw Velo had an excellent turn out for both the adult and youth section of the club with a variety of ages from the under 8s through to the Grand Vets.
The morning started with the under 13s and 10s race, run over a shorter course length and duration of 20 mins involved around 30 riders. Taw Velo’s Ben Rowell, competing in his first race, made a charge for the first ascent to put him in second place. Holding out for the duration, Ben could not quite match the speed of first place rider Seth Owen and ended up,settling for second place, followed by Chuck Harmer in 4th and Edward Armstrong 5th. Ellen Garnsworthy managed to get 2nd place in the under 10s girls section of the race. Fin Mead also in his first race had a spectacular off, whilst descending through the tree line, managed to jump back on his bike and get a respectable 5th place in the under 10s boys category.
Max Standen made an impressive start to his first mountain bike race in the under 8s category. He lead straight from the start and managed to open up a gap of more a minute on his first lap to nearest rival. Due to his determination an addition lap had to be added to ensure that the full duration of the race would be run. In the end his efforts were rewarded with a first place finish.
The next race was now over the full course length and involve all obstacles, descents and a gruelling long climb over a 1.5 kilometre distance, consisting of both tarmac, gravel road and grass. A number of different categories including, fun, youth, sport male, elite and juvenile meant 92 competitors lined up for the start of the race. Jack Hewlett representing sport male managed an impressive 3rd place during the one and a half-hour long race. In the Youth male category, George Armstrong fought a tough battle along side Gabriel Cox from Certini and challenged him for 1st place. In the end Gabriel managed to hold out and retain 1st with George taking second place.
The next race to start was Grand Vet and Vet male and included 66 riders. Taw Velo had a good team covering each category and achieved some good places. Darren Armstrong managed 19th, Graham Garnsworthy 35th in the Vet section, Sean Hewlett 8th in the Grand vet. Pete Dawe from Southfork racing achieved 1st place in the event. Simon Harmer suffered a mechanical problem during the first lap in a challenge to be first across the bridge. Deterioration of the course meant the the challenging down hill sections were littered with twisty and slippery tree roots. This meant riders had to be aware of the obstacles when trying to over take other riders and back markers.