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!
TORQ have been driving miles around the UK in the distinct TORQ RV or sometimes just pitching up the 'dash and go' TORQ 'car and trailer' display at various events, dishing out advice and tips to riders across the UK, along with the occasional cup of tea.
TORQ RV sunning itself…
You’ll always know where the TORQ stand is, it’s the one with masses of people swarming around sampling the delights and stocking up on tasty products. TORQ - it is more of a lifestyle than just a business…. Anyway we digress and moving on, we’re into June where our TORQ sponsored athletes once more shone.
James D’Arcy leads out the 50km field
First up and it was the National Marathon Champs held in one of the UK’s best loved venues – Margam Park, South Wales. Split into various distances, the actual National titles were only up for grabs in the 100km, but for hundreds of other rider, they had the opportunity to come along and ride in either the 50km or the 25km at the same time, rubbing shouders with the best in the UK. In action and sporting the TORQ colours for the 100km event were Matt Loake, Charles Newton-Mason, Lydia Gould and Emma Bradley.
Lydia flashing past the flowers.
At 25km per loop, the Margam course is one of the longest laps over some of the toughest climbs you can imagine. Constantly climbing and descending, with the final climb giving you an outstanding view of the surrounding area (and Port Talbot Steelworks) before a rapid descent and long chase home across the open land, dodging herds of deer, before heading out once more. Added to the toughness of the terrain was some blindingly good weather, which after some of the washed out events that have happened this year was a sort of blessing….
Charles on his way round the 100km
Best finisher for TORQ was youngster Charles coming home in 23rd position with a slightly older (only just) Matt coming home in 25th spot. Lydia very nearly made it to the podium in the women’s event coming home in a respectable 6th spot, but Emma had to abandon her race after just 2 laps, which was a big disappointment for her.
Matt Loake gives it his all…
In the sporting races, TORQ were much more prominent on the podium with vet riders James D’Arcy & Rob Barker picking up 1st and 3rd respectively in the vets 50km, While James’s wife Amanda picked up a silver in the women’s vet 50 km to make it a complete collection for the team.
Amanda picking up her silver in the 50km vet women’s race
June was also the month that World Cup fever hit the UK, with the annual triple header (DH/4X & XC) hitting Fort William and so the annual pilgrimage to Scotland for round 5 of this global series was under taken to see the Worlds best in action and hope that some of our own grown talent would pull out all the stops and take a win or two.
We were richly rewarded in the downhill, where UK riders have excelled over the last couple of years, with Gee Atherton narrowly missing out on the top spot picking up 2nd and the legend that is Steve Peat taking 4th. In the Women’s DH it was Tracy Moseley, a TORQ supported athlete that took a fine win. After a disappointing World Champs the previous year, this was a much welcome win in front of a home crowd and as she went to receive her trophy, her Torq bottle went too!!!
Tracy on the top step along with her Torq bottle!
In the XC another TORQ supported athlete was having the ride of her life. Kate Potter on her continuing journey on the World Cup circuit had her best result yet picking up a fine 33rd place.
“I felt like I was pacing myself well and towards the end of the race started to make up a lot more places to move into 33rd position. I was very happy with my result, but more importantly I really enjoyed hearing all the encouragement from the crowd, who made me feel like I was racing on home turf, which in many ways I was.” To find out how she got on pop over to her blog where she goes into great detail!
Kate Potter riding strongly at Fort William in the shadow of Ben Nevis
Coming back down to earth from World Cup fever and all the action now was centred on the next round of the National Points Series. For this 3rd round the riders headed for a treat in the Lake District. Grizedale Forest Park was the destination and the course had been put together with the advice of locals Sue & Barrie Clarke. You just knew it was gonna be challenging! And it certainly was, claiming plenty of victims along the way by means of punctures, broken bars or just broken spirits! Ryan Sherlock had his best result in the Elite men’s NPS races yet with a great 9th spot:
“The XC course was pretty hilly (about 275 meters per lap over the 9km lap – I would be doing 5 laps) and reasonably enjoyable. It started off with 2 km of rolling/climbing fire road followed by a pretty steep technical single track climb which brought us to a man made trail centre type traverse/descent to another fire road climb (and some fire road descending!). After this was a technical descent that I actually got to really like, although it claimed a huge number of puncture victims, a bit more fire road and then a really nice single track descent back to the start/finish area. “
The rest of the TORQ honour was upheld in the Elite race with Nick Collins picking up 14th, and Phil Coad finishing in 20th spot just one ahead of Torq supported rider Ross Adams.
Dan Booth looks on as Phil Coad rides for home.
In the women’s elite race, all eyes were on Kate Potter, fresh from her World Cup exploits, and riding her first NPS of the season. Other money was on Sue Clarke, local to the area and with her form now coming on pretty strong. However her challenge was quickly dashed after a series of punctures and a set of broken bars. Despite not feeling in top form Kate soon made short work of her competition to take a cracking win.
“I think I’m coming down with a bit of a cold and I just didn’t feel that perky this morning. I didn’t get to warm up properly before hand as I was running a bit late, my watch stopped and I almost missed the start. Anyway I decided I would just do a lap as my warm up and just finish. But it all came together and I got some lady luck! I had real issues getting on and off my bike today and because of that I got passed by a few of the girls but I got up to the lead group and decided to attack about half way into the first lap and tried to maintain that pace. I took it steady on the descents as I really thought I would puncture today and yeah it just went my way today. It was still really tough though. Once I got passed all the girls I just kept thinking they were all on my tail, I kept expecting Jenn or Jenny to just fly by or even one of the other girls. I guess I kept trying to race the guys out there to keep me pushing on. I think my World Cup experience has really shown here today, my confidence is improving, I think technically my riding has improved, I feel like I’m not such a timid little mouse as I was before, but I’ve still got lots to work on and lots more experience to pick up. Every race is a new experience. It’s been great to be back in the UK and to do these races and see all the friendly faces and catching up with everyone. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t make the first 2 NPS races it would have just been too much to get here after all the travelling for the World Cups but it’s really good to be back. I’ve got some team events lined up now, I’m riding Mountain Mayhem with the Scott team and then twentyfour/12 I’m riding with my husband Ian and I’m gonna rip his legs off, I just need to add that!”
Kate takes the win
Also Keeping the TORQ flag flying high was Mel Spath who finished 4th in the Elite race While Viv Hazleton took a step on the podium to taking 2nd in the Grand Vet women’s race.
“I prefer technical course such as this, places like Thetford are way too flat and fast for me but here you could get stuck into loads of climbing, and I’m a better climber than descender. I took it relatively easy on the descents as I wanted to get round in one piece! It was a fantastic course and well worth the trip.”
In the men’s Expert race, Eric Pettit, (the perpetual student!) finished 14th with Steve Shaw gradually getting back on form after a long lay off due to illness finished 21st. John Richardson also riding for TORQ supported Leeds Uni, took a break from his exams to finish 14th in the sports race, while Emma Bradley took 4th in the women’s masters race.
Sunday and the sun was still shining and the midges still biting and now it was time for the enduro riders to get stuck in. Mel after a strong ride yesterday, picked up a great second in the 100km with Emma picking 4th.
“By the 4th lap I got over it and rode on. It seemed as I was getting slower on the climbs (a total of about 2700m!!) I was getting better on the descents, starting to enjoy them more and more with each lap, with my favourite being the last singletrack descent. There were no girls around, so I mostly rode by myself or with some guys who were about my speed. Finally, after 06:05:37 I arrived at the finish, 11:24min behind Jenn O'Connor. Another second place.... but my time will come!!! ;)”
Mel takes her place on the enduro podium
Torq got yet another podium position as Ryan also took 2nd in the men’s 100km, while team boss Matt Hart abandoned duties at Torq base camp leaving wife Sascha to hold the fort while he went off to compete in the 75km, where he came home in a creditable 5th spot, with Steve Shaw taking 16th.
“The rest of the race went by reasonably well – it is always around the 3rd or 4th lap that I ask myself, “why am I doing this”. I have been riding for 2.5 hours and I'm still only half way. Once I get to the 5th lap though, your mostly home and in these events, I find the last lap time... Only 12.5% to go! A little over 5 hours later I finished up in second behind William – there really was not that much interesting things during the race apart from lapping people although I did get to like lots of the singletrack. With the pre-ride, XC and Marathon, there were sections that I rode 17 times... Gotta know them by now.”
Ryan on his way to second spot in the enduro
So the trip to Grizedale for all was well worthwhile despite the numerous punctures and the dodgy moment for Matt and Sascha as they tried to maneuver the TORQ car and trailer sideways…. but thats another story! And June continued in a similar theme with Mountain Mayhem another successful TORQ presence both on site and on the podium. But you’ll have to wait a bit longer for that report… Keep checking back to find out how we got on.
Essential kit for surviving Grizedale...
Meanwhile if you fancy reading what some of the TORQ sponsored athletes are up to or would like a more detailed account of how their races went check these links out…
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: