Joolze Dymond is a freelance photographer and journalist. If there’s a muddy ditch in the middle of the countryside in a place where Mountain Bikers go, Joolze will probably be lying in it with her huge lens poking out!
Fast Food & Late Nights
During July and August the girls & guys that make up the TORQ/Kona team plus all the other TORQ supporting riders were out in force in a number of memorable events. July certainly seemed as if summer was here, with most races being conducted in a traditional barmy summers day….Strange seeing how most riders views this year has been that the racing season has been a washout, quite literally in some cases.
Fast Food is coming atcha! Get it while it's hot.
However as we said July got off to a cracking start as the TORQ RV and team members made the long trip down south to the hot bed of mountain biking and all night partying – Brighton. Now Brighton hasn’t seen any mountain bike races for many, many years, not since the heady days XC of the ‘90’s, but despite this the riding scene in Brighton is one of the busiest around and this was their chance to show their famed hospitality and as well as some of their awesome trails.
Charles NM also soaking up the sun in the mixed pairs.
The event in question was the G2 Revolver series or as it likes to be known, ‘The Long Good Saturday’, a mere 8 hr enduro starting at the leisurely hour of 12 midday and finishing at a respectable 8pm leaving more than enough time to head to the coast for a post race party. Situated at Stanmer Park, the event provided riders with a cracking 11km loop crammed to the brim with technical, challenging singletrack, with such classic names as ‘the bit in the middle’ and ‘danger run’! Even the ‘Granddaddy’ of mountain biking, Mr. Gary Fisher was in town ready to get stuck into those dry dusty trails!
It was nice to ride fast…
With some rocking tunes courtesy of the DJ’s the festival feel of this event really kicked in and as the hundreds of riders lined up to start the race it felt like they’d be taking it easy and gently leaving the start line to cruise happily around the course, politely for the full 8 hours… Well it didn’t quite happen like that but very nearly! Team TORQ/Kona were aiming for the big time in the men’s team of 4, with Nick Collins, Matt Loake, Marcos Schier & Steve Shaw with an eye on the fastest lap prize too the boys gave it their all, racking up an impressive 16 laps on their way to the finish line and a pint of free beer to celebrate their win. TORQ/Kona boy Nick Collins did his team proud too by posting the fastest lap, and his reward? A massive 36pint container of local beer – courtesy of Harvey’s Of Lewes. Perfect for the thirst he undoubtedly built up doing that fast lap!
Marcos can’t quite believe that Nick is going to drink that all himself
TORQ/Kona continued their orange & black domination of the podium as the mixed team of Matt & Sasha Hart, plus James D’Arcy & Rob Barker took the top step honours in their category. Unfortunately the TORQ domination of the top step stopped in the mixed pairs as Lydia Gould & Charles Newton-Mason got squeezed into 2nd.
Nick Collins on his way, warp speed to the fastest lap..
As the race came to an end Gary Fisher was there to greet the finishers with a very welcome glass of Harvey’s beer. A fitting end to a grand festival of mountain biking, which we only hope will return here next year for more of the same! As celebrations continued well into the night, competitors regaled their tales of near misses and singletrack heaven at the local hostelry in Brighton, everyone agreed, a grand day out was had by all especially team TORQ!!
Marcos throwing some stylish shapes..
It’s good to TORQ:
This was a great course a whole lot of fun, really twisty a few unexpected things, some technicality, some pure speed. There were some places where you could really wind it out and overall yeah a lot of fun. Finishing with a beer in your hand is how it should be, the enduro scene is evolving…
Matt ‘keep your eyes open’ Hart
Fantastic outing today for our 3 teams and great to see the wife make her racing debut after 10 years! Fantastic course, I can only speak personally, but on the first lap I thought what a nightmare, because its public land they couldn’t tape a lot off I was very confused as it was very disjointed. But when I came to do my second lap and I knew where I was going, it was absolutely brilliant; it was just a case of knowing where you were going. It was really dry and dusty and great to do a race with no mud. I think everyone really enjoyed it and another couple of podiums for the team, which can’t be bad. We’ve got quite a lot of strength and depth in the team now, which is brilliant.
It was dark in those woods..
National XC Champs – Crow Hill
The next outing for the TORQ crew was the National XC Championships, the ultimate goal for all XC racers and this year provided some tough competition, with Olympic riders Liam Killeen and Oli Beckingsale slugging it out for the senior title. Situated at Crow Hill the course delivered a fast flowing & unrelenting 9km, with a couple of power kicks, definitely not one for the climbers. It was soon clear that it was going to be a day full of drama and with as many twists and turns as the course itself.
National Champs… It’s a love/hate thing…
As the senior riders lined up there was plenty of smiling faces and quick banter, shielding the sheer determination that would kick in when the race was in full flight. As the gun was fired it was a full blown sprint, vying for position as the senior field surged forward ready to get stuck into miles of singletrack, all eyes set on one aim, gold and the chance to wear the champions jersey. Representing TORQ were Elite riders Phil Coad & Nick Collins, but as the race unfolded it was clear that it would as predicted being played out between the two big guns, Killeen & Beckingsale, matching each other pedal stroke for pedal stroke, this was going to be interesting, in the end Killeen came home to take the win from Beckingsale with TORQ riders Collins & Coad finishing in a respectable 16th & 23rd spot respectively.
Despite being eligible to race in the vets category TORQ rider Lydia Gould lined up alongside much younger ladies in the Senior women’s race, her reason? She knew she’d get a much better race, with 4 laps rather than 2. If she had raced Vets she would have dominated it cruising to an easy win, but anyone who knows Lydia knows that’s not her style! She rode a really consistent race coming home in 9th spot just 15 mins down on newly crowned & relative youngster National Champion Jenny Copnall!
Emma on her way to 4th spot.
Emma Bradley narrowly missed out on picking up a National medal in her Master’s women’s race coming home in 4th spot. Just 3 mins separated the top 4 women in this race proving to be one of the closest of the day. This was always going to be a tough day out for all concerned well done to all who took part, lets see where TORQ will finish next year. Start placing your bets now! It was encouraging to see TORQ riders in the thick of the action alongside some of the more established ‘kings’ of our sport. It was a great showcase for TORQ, with our riders not afraid to get stuck in and do their best in front of hundreds of supporters and gain inspiration to hopefully, go onto greater things!
It was certainly 3rd time lucky for The Bontrager Twentyfour/12 enduro event both in terms of the venue and the cracking weather. After 2 years in the wilderness, the event finally headed for the classic mountain bike venue, Newnham Park, Plymouth, that is loved country wide for it’s range of sinuous, inspiring singletrack, lung busting climbs, awesome descents and some eye popping river crossings; for the thousand or so competitors who lined up to take part, it was to be probably one of the best enduros ever held in recent years and TORQ were there in force providing some of the most thrilling racing all season.
The Twentyfour/12 format is aimed at encouraging both novices and more experienced mountain bikers to come along and take part, and this year another race was added, in the form of the Torchbearer 12 hour, now when the first 12 hour finished at Midnight, a fresh batch of riders were set loose on the course to ride their battles mainly through the night finishing with the rest of the 24 hr hard crew. So for 24 and 12hour stretches competitors flew round the dry dusty hard packed 8 mile course with lap times of 33 mins a regular occurrence and TORQ powered riders were in the thick of the action once more picking up 7 podium spots in the 12hr, with four 1sts and three 2nds.
Phil Coad missing out the pesky river crossing
Over the course of the day a few battles were being closely fought, one of those eventful races had to be the 12hr Mixed pairs category with Aussie World Cup rider & TORQ sponsored rider Kate Potter paired up with hubby Ian in the pairs race, clashing with the TORQ/Kona pairing of Irish duo Ryan Sherlock & Mel Spath. With each team evenly matched it was a real dog eat dog scrap as the riders battled for the lead. As the hours ticked by it soon became clear that the TORQ/Kona pairing of Sherlock & Spath had the edge and took victory with a 24 min advantage. The Potter duo took 2nd. Mel also recorded the fastest night lap and as a result picked up the title of 'Queen of the Night', complete with a crown and an especially engraved USE light set! TORQ/Kona were also triumphant in the men's 12 hr pairs as Matt Loake & Phil Coad, managed to hold off the Donut Appreciation Society, pairing of Adi Scott and Anthony White. While in the women’s pairs TORQ rider Lydia Gould riding with Jackie Roberts of ‘Beyond Mountain Bikes’ had to settle for 2nd spot despite a valiant effort behind enduro specialist Liz Scallia and team mate Nadine Spearing.
Ryan Sherlock one half of the winning team
The other half of the winning 12hr mixed pairs – Mel Spath winning the Queen of the Night title
Yet another TORQ rider locked in mortal combat was James Lister in the men’s 12hr solo. Lister started at his usual frantic pace, leaving Matt Page riding more conservatively, slowly picking his way round the field. Eventually the steam train of Lister started to run out of puff leaving the consistent Page to snatch victory in the last few laps. Lister had to be content with 2nd less than 6 mins adrift, while team mate Charles Newton Mason rode into 36th. It looked like holidays certainly helped the winners of the 12h Open Mixed team, as the 4 riders, James Dymond, Iain Collins, Jon Roberts and Kirsty Eastwood, all riding for AQuickRelease.com and supported by TORQ made short work of their race racking up 19 laps giving them the win. Finally fielding a substitute from TORQ, in the shape of Matt Hart, after a team member was unable to make the race, team Yeti/Goldtec, managed to keep hold of the lead in the men’s 12h team and take the win despite being chased all the way by the folk from Southforkracing.co.uk.
TORQ supported rider, Kate Potter
James Lister fighting for the 12hr solo men’s title
It was a fantastic event, in a fantastic venue made all that more special by some blistering hot sunshine, and some cracking TORQ performances. Lets hope that next year they can book the same venue complete with the same weather, for more fun and frolics in the park…. I’m looking forward to TORQ painting the town orange and black once more!
Lydia takes no chances crossing the river
It’s good to TORQ:
Ryan Sherlock & Mel Spath
That was an awful lot of fun, the course was dry and fast and the Potters kept us on our toes, we really enjoyed it. I think for the first 7, 8 hours there was never more than a minute, minute and a half between us and it was only at the very end there was any major difference. I did two laps and Mel did one and we kept it steady, until the final 2, 3 hours when we started doing 1lap each. It was great it was a mental break you could have a break, do a quick 30 odd minute lap and then relax, instead of going out for an hour and 10. It was amazing course the singletrack was incredible and after a couple of laps you knew the course and after that most of it you could stay off the brakes completely and trust your tyres and roll round the corners, it was brilliant. And then when it came to the night, you still knew the course perfectly there was never any surprises, you knew there was nothing bad after any of the corners it was just very fast! Both of us had so much fun. Mel’s doing very well, she’s only been training for 9 months now and she’s already has a World Champs under her belt and she’s winning lots of races, so she’s not doing too bad for a newbie!
Matt Loake & Phil Coad
It was good, we had a bit of a battle between Adi Scott and Anthony White, we were locked in a major tussle with them for most of the race. I felt a bit guilty as Phil kept getting us the lead and I kept losing it… Adi must be quicker than Anthony cos that who I was out against all the time, honest! Brilliant event, great course and quite local for me and about the hundredth time I’ve raced here. It’s so different racing here in the dry, the corners come up so much quicker and I seemed to be nearly crashing on each one of them! We’re quite a good team, well I think so anyway….
We tried to keep the pace up all the way round, it was such fun on a great course. Matt was lagging a bit but he’s not bad for an old un. Brilliant course, one of the best we’ve ridden. Matt Hart - It was a pleasure to ride with the team, and good to be on a winning team, it was good to be motivated to ride fast as I didn’t want to let the guys down. Be great to do this again as long as we can guarantee the weather!
Matt making a splash
NPSXC- R4 – Fast Food…
In August the NPS returned to the familiar riding grounds of Eastridge, Shropshire, after a break of nearly a decade and riders were not disappointed as they were rewarded with a truly epic course, 7 kms, containing a lung busting 1000ft of climbing per lap, coupled with some incredible descents thanks to TORQ boss Matt Hart and NPS organizer Paul Hore, oh and to top it all off the sun was shining. It was also the weekend of the unveiling of the new TORQ kit… riders will no longer be ‘Moist & Chewy’ now they are mainly ‘Fast Food’!
The sun always shines when the TORQ RV is visiting,,,
A cruel start overlooked by the impressive Ponsbury Hill, saw the riders pelt away form the gun up a draggy grassy slope, this first drag saw the field of each race resemble a thin brightly coloured ribbon as riders soon began to feel the affects of the slope coupled with race pace. More climbing, some on fire tracks some on technical rocky slopes and some on seemingly endless singletrack through head high ferns quickly replaced a quick respite on a stretch of singletrack.
Then it was time to tackle the descents, a series of steep hairy moments, interspersed with some interesting and taxing log obstacles, whilst sweeping as fast as you dare through a myriad of tress, before finally descending the bottom of the old down Hill course which popped you out onto the last grassy descent towards the finish line, the choice of line here involved a double jump if you were feeling brave!
Mel Spath enjoying the descent
The TORQ ladies did pretty well, racking up 2 podium spots, with Mel Spath, Despite her reservations about lack of climbing abilities, taking 2nd in the women’s Elite race, while Emma Bradley got her first taste of NPSXC podiums with a cracking 3rd spot in the Master women’s race. Nick Collins rode strongly in the men’s elite tapping on that top ten in 13th spot while Leeds Uni and TORQ supported Eric Pettett took 7th in the Expert race.
Emma Bradley focusing on her first NPS podium
Unbeknown at the time riders were also vying for final NPS rankings, as this unfortunately was the last NPS of the season. Mirroring results from the final round, Mel Spath took 2nd overall in the Elite women with Emma Bradley taking 3rd overall in the Masters. Eric Pettett stayed in the top 10 with a creditable 9th spot in the Expert whilst in the men’s elite category, with none of the TORQ riders completing 4 rides all hoping to make up ground in the final, Nick Collins finished in 17th, Ryan Sherlock missing this round to take 2nd in the Irish national Hill Climb Champs, came 21st, Phil Coad with just 2 races done, 38th and finally Matt Loake with just one round to his name 43rd.
The hills are alive …with TORQ riders!
After a night of much food and merriment at a local pub TORQ riders were soon tucked up in bed waiting to see what the next day’s enduro would bring. With some heavy rain in the night hopes were dashed that a completely dry course would lay in wait. The course was increased from the previous day’s 7km to 10km and this seemed on paper to be short changing the enduro riders, as the 100km now was merely a romp over 80km, but as the race unfolded the true hardship of this course coupled with those heavy rainfalls in the night certainly made it a battle of attrition and not for the faint hearted, it was a course that would be etched on the minds forever of those courageous souls that undertook the challenge it threw their way...
As race time dawned, the rain clouds gathered and as the 2 100km lady competitors, Jenn O’Connor and Mel Spath got underway a brief shower seemed to be setting the scene for the day. 5 mins later and he 100km men set of in earnest, keen to see what lay ahead. The previous day’s course was a mixture of classic climbs, mixed up with awesome technical descents and today was no different just that little bit longer, with extra section taking the riders even higher so that they could enjoy the open views of Wales in the distance. Fortunately the brief shower was just that and as the day unfolded the day became increasingly warmer but the course came increasingly stickier, making some of the sections virtually unridable as the top layer of mud on some of the climbs just turned into a slip fest.
Stephen James still smiling…
The men’s 75km, contained a few big hitters including the current National Marathon Champion Ian Wilkinson, but it was young Espoir and TORQ supported rider Billy Joe Whenman who literally blew the field apart. As the whistle blew Whenman was off like a man possessed with the rest of the field tailing behind. His first lap he completed in a jaw dropping 37 mins, and by the middle of the second lap had lapped the entire 100km field that started a good 10 mins earlier. No one could match his pace and the strong rider blasted through the course making amends for a disastrous race the day before where an exploding rear mech put paid to his race. Here however he was seemingly unstoppable, but the crazy race pace soon began to slow.
Steve Shaw getting stuck into the 75km
Whenman went on to take the victory a clear 30mins ahead of the next man in. Stephen James was the next TORQ man in coming 4th, while course designer and TORQ boss Matt Hart put his money where his mouth was once more scoring a creditable 6th spot despite wanting to give up more than once, describing the course as probably the toughest he has ever done, well he only has himself to blame! Jon Pendrill finished 8th, Steve Shaw 15th, while vets Jeff Spetch and James D’Arcy finished their races in 4th and 5th respectively. Meanwhile in the 100km Mel Spath went one better than the previous day taking first spot and with it securing her overall title win too. The only person in the 100km race who did complete the full 8 laps before the cut off time was Will Bjergfelt, completing his race, which would normally only take 4 hrs in just under 6. Understandably he took the win! However TORQ rider Charles Newton Mason rode well to finish in the tough conditions in 9th spot while Steve Corbyn came home in 17th. Amanda D’Arcy looked to be having fun as she started her 50km, but after 1 lap the fun had gone and her race was over.
TORQ boss Matt Hart had his passport close to hand just in case he had to leave the country early as an angry mob of riders might come to hunt him down, blaming him for the toughness of the event. Fortunately for him the consensus was sure it was a toughie, but it was an excellent course and they couldn’t wait to do it again, although they wouldn’t mind it being drier next time!
Mel tackling one of the many obstacles that made the day so tough..
With quite a few riders missing out a round or two, hoping to make up points on the final round it was a crushing blow for most to find that final round now cancelled, Still TORQ riders came out tops and there’s always next year…
Mel & Emma took 1st & 2nd in the women’s 100km, while Ryan Sherlock picked up a tantalising 4th, Steve Corbyn, 17th, Charles Newton -Mason 24th and Matt Loake with just round under his belt 42nd. Viv Hazelton took TORQ to the top with her overall win in the women’s vet 100km. In the 75km, Stephen James took TORQ to the podium with a joint 2nd overall, while Billy Joe Whenman took 4th, Matt Hart 11th, Steve Shaw 13th and Jon Pendrill 25th. Jeff Spetch took a cracking 5th spot in the men’s 75km with James D’Arcy taking 12th and wife Amanda picking up 4th in the vet’s women 50km.
Jeff couldn’t believe it really was THAT much fun
It’s good to TORQ:
Billy Joe Whenman
It was alright, I went out pretty hard to try and break the field up, I got away from the start and did a 37mn lap which was quicker than my laps yesterday in the shorter XC course! That was pretty hard! I kept the pace high just to get a good gap then I just cruised the last couple of laps and tried not to make any mistakes. I caught the entire 100km field by lap 2 and then just eased back a bit so I could make it to the finish. After the mechanical I had yesterday I just wanted a good race today so that’s why I went for it. The course was much harder even the flats were hard thanks to all the mud, but the downhills were wicked. That has to be the best course I’ve ridden for 4 years, awesome and well worth it.
That was a very hard race, the whole course developed into a mush pit thanks to the heavy rain we had in the night, you were just pedalling and not getting anywhere that was really hard. It was a harder race than the XC but I think today was the better course, there was a lot of really nice singletrack that wasn’t in it yesterday and all that slogging was well worth it for that descent. Jenn was a head of me when she crashed, I saw her lying on the ground and she seemed to be in big pain holding her arm, I asked if she was okay she said yes and said if she got back on the bike she would chase me down so, but she didn’t get back into the race so it was very lonely out there. I was aiming for 7 laps for 4 o’clock but with my really bad lap I settled for 6, I was just glad to get it over with.
Matt looking relieved it’s all over…
There were times out there that even I wanted to give up but I’d have never have lived it down so I kept going. It was a lot harder as it rained pretty hard last night and the fire tracks were muddy basically because the FC had been in deforesting sections. 6 months ago those tracks were solid rock. The fact we could all keep moving out there was fantastic, but the mud and the rain just made it an extra difficult course. Hopefully riders have respected the course, loved it and hated it at the same time. We wanted to design a proper mountain bike course that would shock people a little bit but those that love mountain biking would be raving about it. You can’t come to Eastridge and it not be hard, as it’s just one big hill, but we made it harder by including some of the old DH runs that previous XC courses here avoided.
Photos & words courtesy of Joolze Dymond
TORQ would like to extend a big thank you to all the sponsors of TORQ/Kona (2008). Without you, we wouldn’t be able to get a team together: