Rob is TORQ's Performance Mountain Bike team's manager and chief. He's the brains and passion behind the team, organising their competition schedules and escorting them around Europe to race World Cup's.
Team Manager Rob Barker and Super-Charged Tim Dunford give their accounts of a sunny weekend’s racing at Cheddar…
A black and orange blanket was laid over the Somerset hills at the Kona Bikefest in Cheddar and as I have a fondness for his event, I was extremely happy with our set of results (4 first places). This course has history for me being first team event that I ever undertook. It was traditionally always the end of season bash and one lasting memory is the walk from the campsite to the racetrack and the Autumnal feel that September brings. However, this weekend was more like a heatwave on a Devon beach!
We had two teams racing, a male four with Anthony and Sion O Boyle, Ben Thomas and Chris Lane. The second team was a mixed pair consisting of Tim Dunford with the Scottish Elite Champion Lee Craigie. It wasn’t difficult to tempt the team to race this marvelous course, with its massive slog followed by one of the sweetest downhills British XC has to offer.
The course was bone dry, thus I was expecting some fast laps. The race was a 10-hour affair which started at 10am and ran until 8pm. At the stroke of 10, the riders had to do a Monza style run to their bikes and just to inflict more pain they had to run the BMX track, which was bloody hilarious watching a train of people going up and down over the bumps like a romp of Essex girls in stilettos (I’m allowed to mock Essex girls, cos the TORQ boss comes from there – haven’t seen him waring stilettos coming to think of it though). While your heart rate is in the stratosphere, you grab your bike and set off for the 10-minute climb.
It didn’t take long before elite rider Will Bergfelt, followed closely by, Ben and Tim lapped at around 15 mins. Considering Tim was in a pair, this wasn’t bad! The fours main opposition was the Ram Bike team, they had already won at Bristol and the Open Men’s at Mountain Mayhem so it would not be easy. The Torq team started to pull away and within 2 hours they were 6 minutes up on the Ram team. Being seasoned pros though, they didn’t let up and put in faster and faster laps, all eager to bag the fastest lap of the day. Anthony O Boyle took the honours with a 13.10 smashing the course record. After 10 hours, they managed to rack up 41 laps, an impressive 3 laps ahead of Ram. Tim and Lee, with such short laps, decided to do 3 laps each. Tim managed consistently to do 14 min laps and Lee, in 16 and 17’s, again not bad for someone who had driven down from Scotland the day before and was sure that her season had ended. The pair finished on 36 laps, 10 laps ahead of their nearest competitors. This would have put them third in the male fours!
All in all a good day at the office for the Torq Race Team, topped off by a nice meal and entertainment by a man claiming to be Elvis! Who said he was dead, he was flippin authentic if you ask me?
The following day, the TORQ Development Squad took to the trails and once again set out to dominate proceedings. Fran Mundy won the 5-hour solo event and Dave Lawton, paired with Maxine Filby won the mixed pairs convincingly too. Sunday was a great day for TORQ too.
[Ed. Team Manager Rob Barker paired up with a friend and introduced his body to the rigors of racing, having devoted much of his season to supporting the team. I think he found it a bit of a shock to the system, but they still managed to pull off 3rd place, which is pretty sterling work, so there’s obviously life in the old dog yet!]
TORQ/Kona’s Tim Dunford gave the following account of his race on Saturday:
“Cheddar has traditionally been the curtain closer to the mountain bike season and brings with it some mixed emotions. A fantastic event on a great course tinged with a hint of sadness at the end of the season and the approach of the autumn and winter months. No sign of autumn this year though, it was sun, sun, sun for the 10 hour enduro on Saturday. Having done a number of team enduros this year I was due to race mixed pairs this time around. My partner in crime was Lee Craigie, silver medal at the National Champs. I’d better be quick!
I hadn’t raced at Cheddar for a few years but a quick practice lap revealed a nice big climb followed by an awesome descent taking in the infamous Witches Wood. This was a classic old school course – I loved it!
Race time approached and with it the Le Mans style start. This was probably more fun to watch than it was to do but I gamely clomped around the BMX course in my SPD shoes. I was slightly concerned that I might not make it to the top of the jumps on the BMX course and be mowed down by the pack behind but fortunately I survived! If the run didn’t spread out the field the first climb certainly did. My team mate in the men’s team was just ahead so I sped off in pursuit. I rolled around in third place but unlike my team mate I was due to go around again. It then occurred to me that I may have started a bit quick, but there was a new team mate to chase so I couldn’t slow down! Fortunately after two laps I changed over otherwise I may have fizzled out long before the scheduled 8pm finish!
The course was riding great. The climb was pretty tough and the relatively short lap meant it came round alarmingly quickly. On the bright side so did the descent. And what a descent! Bouncing over rocks and carving round the corners with clouds of dust bellowing up behind you. You couldn’t help but have a big childish grin - this was fantastic fun!
As dusk approached we set up the lights. The 8pm finish meant only a short time in the dark but by 7.30 it was getting distinctly gloomy in the trees. On my last lap I was beginning to feel the efforts of the day and when my team mate Ant O’Boyle caught me on the climb try as I might I couldn’t hang on to his wheel. Still we’d put in a big effort over 10 hours to win the mixed pairs. Congratulations go to the other Torq boys who won the men’s team event. A big thanks is due to Paul and all his helpers for putting on such a great event. Thanks also are due to Kona for their generous support of the event. Finally, a big shout out to Elvis for providing the evening’s entertainment!“
All pictures from www.rightplacerighttime.co.uk
TORQ - Performance Nutrition
KONA - Bikes
USE EXPOSURE - Lights
MAGURA - Forks & Brakes
SCHWALBE - Tyres
ERGON - Grips
JOOLZE DYMOND - Photography
RITCHEY - Cycle Components
CYCLEOPS - Turbo Trainers
SPORT-TORQUE - Tools
FIZIK - Saddles
FIBRAX - Cables & Pads
PURPLE EXTREME - Lubricant
DIRTWORKER - Pressure Washers
CATLIKE - Helmets
Words by Rob Barker/Tim Dunford.