Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
Early Dawes 06/04/08
“Early Dawes” too right!!! 6:30am start for the 150 mile trip up to Catton Park (near Burton on Trent). Just 2 team members were up for the early season warm up race. Snow flurries and blizzard type driving conditions on the way up there kind of set the tone of the day.
Upon arriving the car park looked like a cross between a ski slope and Glastonbury 07 and did little to help quash any fears of a muddy race. The course didn’t look much better and we chose not to do a recce lap, so as to “save” our bikes and legs, so we’d be racing blind for the first lap. As the day went on, the Juvenile/Youth and the Elite races were done, both of which had riders giving up and coming back to the pits covered in mud. The decision was made by the race organisers to postpone the start of the Open race until 3pm so the course could dry out and also shorten it to just 3 laps.

Graeme Report:

We both took up positions at the front of the start line and discussed tactics. “Lets go for it from the start, keep on my back wheel, just follow me”. With the tape dropped and the gun sounding, we burst along the short start/finish straight and into the first climb. This was a relatively short climb however it was so muddy and the back wheel just kept slipping away (even with the Michelin XCR Muds on). Halfway up the climb I finally had chance to look up at the riders in front of me and try and work out positions, low and behold Paul was about 10 bike lengths in front and was going for it. I decided to let him go and would catch up later. By the end of the climb Paul was already across the next field and a good 20 riders in front and quite away off. I couldn’t be letting him get out of reach within the first mile, so I got out of the saddle and went for the chase down. Halfway along the next field I caught up with Paul, who seemed quite surprised to see me after thinking I was already ahead. We were riding at our own pace, so I pulled out a bit of a lead on my team mate, however every time I looked round he was just a little way behind. The course dipped in and out of a couple of woods and round some field. There was no letup on the entire course and no chance to coast. Towards the end of lap 1 I had a bit of a moment coming down the hill, a camera man was waiting at a jump so I went for it. It didn’t quite go to plan and I ended up unclipping my feet mid air and landing on the front wheel and almost going over the bars. Some how I held it but made the decision not to try and be a freerider whilst in the middle of an XC race ever again. The rest of my race was pretty uneventful, just a long arduous slog around the course with the occasional dab down. However the riding was rather exciting what with no traction and rather tight singletrack winding through the off camber trees which has led to some bruised shoulders. Come the finish it was chucking it down with snow again and I was grateful just to get over the line with myself and the bike in one piece.

Paul Report:

Standing next to Graeme at the start line I was starting to feel nervous, when the gun went we went for it and at the first corner I got pushed wide, I decided I had to catch Graeme so went for it only to find out later I had already past him!! I settled into my race pace and was feeling good, when we dropped into the first section of single track the mud was so bad most people were off and walking, it was so slippery if you lent the bike over it would just wash out and the slightest uphill the back wheel would spin out. CRAZY. By the end of the second lap I was starting to really feel it and my third lap took me over 10 minuets longer than my first lap. It was a rude awakening to this years racing, MUST GET FITTER!!

Thanks to our supporters/camera crew Emma and Katie who gave on much need encouragement through out the race.




Race Time

Lap 1



Graeme Spreadbury







Paul Plowman