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!
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana… that's my favourite saying at the moment. Time certainly has been flying as well for the TORQ team. I can hardly believe that we are now hurtling towards autumn, after a barmy 7 months of eager activity. I guess it’s about time we got you up to date with what the boys and girls of Team TORQ have been up to… Sorry for my slackness in updating the news, my ditch as they say flowith over! Now onto where, when, how the team have been performing since January, it’s certainly been a rollercoaster ride with no end in sight just yet.
Richard Mills at the start of 7 very long laps in the Gorrick 100
Emma Bradley Racking up a fine 4th in R4 of the Gorrick Series
Lydia Gould chasing eventual expert winner Gemma Collins at R4
TORQ have steadfastly been supporting the Gorrick series of events for a number of years and are always on hand dishing out samples, advice and of course cups of tea. The friendly, laid back series has to be one of the most successful XC and enduro series of races in the UK, offering a taste of racing for the masses as well as some exciting action for more hard core competitors. TORQ riders have been seen dipping their toes into this popular series, using it for early season training as well as a chance to shake of racing cobwebs after those cold winter months. Results have been steady with Lydia Gould and Emma Bradley competing in the Expert class. While Chris Lane and Nick Collins have been involved in the expert men’s section. Completing the line up of regulars seen in the Gorrick district are Stephen James, Richard Mills, James & Amanda D’Arcy and James Gleaves and TORQ supported rider Viv Hazelton.
James D’Arcy in action at R5
Viv Hazelton on her way to take the win in the women’s sport race, she repeated her win in the arduous 100km enduro a few weeks later.
Martin Evans in mid Enduro.
Whyte Winter Series
Another popular series of enduro races supported by TORQ throughout the winter and early spring has to be the Whyte Winter Series. Team TORQ made their presence felt early on in this series when master rider Stephen James took on the best and came out triumphant in the solo 4hr. Since that time he’s been eager to repeat success and although that elusive top spot has been narrowly out of grasp he rode some miles in grueling conditions, racking up a 4th in R3 and a 2nd in R4 to finally finish the series 3rd overall. Team mate Steve Shaw with his impending marriage firmly imprinted on his mind racked up a fine 6th in R3 but suffered at the hands of mechanicals to trail home disappointed in 61st in R4, finishing the series in 23rd place.
Stephen goes at warp speed to a fine win in R1
Steve Shaw battles through the mud to take 6th.
Compare and contrast – conditions at R3 were less than favorable.
We’ve now seen 4 rounds of the UK’s premier XC race series be decided over a variety of terrain, ranging from the fast and furious Sherwood Pines, to the huge climbs and descents of Margam and back to the fast and furious at Crow Hill via a quick stop off to the new World Cup course at Dalby! TORQ has seen a steady supply of impressive and consistent results from riders across the board, battling for that elusive visit to the podium. The first round at Sherwood saw Mel Spath fight a hard race to take 3rd ahead of Kate Potter. Other notably results were Stephen James’s 2nd spot in Masters while Emma Bradley took 4th in the master women’s race.
Mel Spath leads the elite women on her way to a fine 3rd spot in R1 despite a comedy crash involving the feed station. Kate Potter another TORQ supported athlete picked up 4th.
Stephen James enjoying his time on the front of the ultra competitive Masters race at Sherwood. He narrowly lost 1st spot having to settle for 2nd instead.
Tim Dunford leads team mate Nick Collins in the elite race at Sherwood.
Round 2 took riders up to North Yorkshire for the thrill and for some the spill of riding an exciting new course. Dalby had been chasing a World Cup bid and this was to be the test race. It was a toughie! To show us how to do it in style were TORQ Australia riders Katherine O’Shea and Daniel McConnell, both on a huge World Cup circuit trip round Europe stopping off at Dalby to get a taste for UK racing along the way.
TORQ Australia riders Dan and Kat tackle the Dalby Northshore.
Nick Collins racing through the trees in the elite race.
Dan in his shocking pink gloves dropping down the fearful ‘Worry Gill’. He challenged Oli Beckingsale all the way but couldn't get past the rapid Giant rider having to settle for 2nd. Team mate Kat had much better luck dominating her race taking the win, with Mel Spath recovering from a suspected broken collar bone taking 2nd. In an ironic twist partner Ryan Sherlock crashed in his race and did break his collar bone…
Margam Park played host to the 3rd round throwing into the mix massive climbs, technical descents and a water crossing or two just for the fun. Kate Potter was back in the country and looking on form after a recent spate of World Cups, she took an easy lead in her race and went for a comfortable win. Both master riders Stephen James and Emma Bradley picked up 3rd, while Fran Mundy riding in Expert came in for 5th.
Fran playing in the water at Margam.
Kate Potter drops in for 1st spot at Margam.
Dave Lawson splashes through in the sport race.
R4 was held on the playground of the SXC crew, which had previously held host to the National XC Champs in ’08. With no major climbs you might have been forgiven for suggesting this was going to be all too easy… Unfortunately when you have no real hills, then you have no descents and the race just becomes relentless! R4 also saw TORQ main man Matt Hart muddy his XC racing record dipping his toe into the masters after a considerable break from XC racing..
Kate Potter took R4 by storm racking up another win. Mel Spath took 4th.
Matt takes to the trails, picking up an excellent 20th in the most competitive of categories.
Chris Lane popping a top 10 in the expert race.
National Marathon Championships
Following on from round 3 of the BMBS the Marathon Championships took riders on a brutal 22km lap, starting with a breathtaking 20 min climb just minutes from the safety of the arena. It was a scorcher too, both in terms of racing and the weather, with the river crossing a welcome relief for many. TORQ walked away with a champion in the Vets ladies 75km and the men’s vets 50km, while TORQ supported athlete Sally Bigham showed her true class taking the win despite a nasty fall early on in the race which saw her rushed to hospital at the end.
TORQ supported rider Sally Bigham wins in convincing fashion.
Matt making his own little splash in the 50km. James D’Arcy went on to win the vets 50km.
Lydia Gould on her way to a national title.
English Marathon Championships
Taking their cue from a successful couple of months, TORQ riders just continued to rack up the results with a near white wash of the podium in the women’s 100km in the English Marathon Champs, run the day after R4 of the BMBS. Mel Spath took the overall win, but had to concede the title, being German and living in Ireland! This saw Lydia Gould and Emma Bradley take the silver and bronze with Maddie Horton (who we all know loves TORQ products!) taking the jersey home to Devon. Stephen James took 2nd in the men’s 5okm and James Gleaves the only TORQ man brave enough to take on the 100km challenge came home in 21st.
Mel takes the win in the 100km, tackling the bone jarring course in style.
Lydia takes a refreshing dip...
No pressure on James Gleaves, sporting the number 1 board….
The best of the rest
TORQ have been a dominant force in many events, some that I haven’t been able to get to, as the country is awash with events at the moment and even I need time off occasionally to recharge (camera) batteries! Memorable results not already mentioned so far include: Bristol Bikefest where team TORQ took 5 wins over the weekend, namely the Open men’s solo, the Female open team on the Saturday and women’s pairs, mixed pairs and team of 4 on the Sunday, they also picked up 3rd in the pairs on Saturday and 4th in the team event too! In the Southern XC Series riders are looking well placed after 3 rounds, Tim Dunford lies in 3rd overall in the elites, with Nick Collins just behind in 5th. Fran Mundy is in 4th in the expert women’s and Emma Bradley is sitting pretty in 3rd in the masters. While Chris Lane is looking consistent in 8th in his expert category. In the recent XC National Championships, we saw outstanding rides from all of the team with virtually everyone picking up an excellent top 10 placing in their respective ultra competitive categories on one of the most challenging courses we’ve encountered for a while... Now we’ve filled in a few of the gaps of what the TORQ team has been up to over the last 7 months, we’re hoping to keep you updated a bit more often… right now off to eat that banana before that fruit fly tucks in, see you in a ditch soon!
Emma just missed out on bronze in the masters race.
Chris was delighted to pick up 10th in the Espoir which would have seen him placed 4th in an Expert race.
Stephen James in action in the masters.
Photos & words courtesy of Joolze Dymond
TORQ would like to extend a big thank you to all the sponsors of TORQ/Kona (2009). Without you, we wouldn’t be able to get a team together: