Whilst the title gives my age away it also draws attention to the fact that the 2016 series of Midweek MTB Madness is underway, having kicked off on Wednesday evening at Leverhulme Park, Bolton. Typically the weather was damp and dark (certainly dark from a photographers PoV at least) but the action was unrelenting and frenetic from the gun. The course was bereft of the infamous river crossing that had given plenty of riders an early bath in previous editions but there were enough twists and turns and ups and downs to test the competitors and many of them appeared to be in a whole world of pain as they crossed the line in fading light.
Men’s winner was Will Lewis repeating his success from just three days earlier at Crank It. In his now typical style he made the escape from the start never to be seen again by the chasing pack. The undulations of the course were of no obstacle to Lewis’s progress and he has to be a firm favourite for the overall series even at this early stage. Andrew Lindley and Christian Smith rounded out the podium.
The women’s event was shaping up to be a much closer affair with a fascinating early tussle between Becky Preece and Martha Gill. These two were going head to head for the first few laps despite the fact that Gill took a tumble on lap one. Preece eventually forged ahead as Gill appeared to be struggling to catch her breath finally finishing third behind winner Preece and second place Alison Rushton. A fully fit Gill will push Preece in future rounds and this will be an interesting battle to follow.
Other winners include Sam Lashley in the enthusiasts, Isaac Peatfield (Youth), Kim Baptista (Youth Girl), Thomas Rushton (Juvenile) and Jocasta Minton (Juvenile girl).
Also a big Shootthebikerace shout out to Sarah Grimshaw from Horwich CC. The only woman to compete both here and at last Sunday’s Crank It. She smiled her way around to be last competitor on the course (far from last place however due to the quirks of the rules where nobody does another lap once the winner has crossed the line) It’s competitors like Sarah who put the heartbeat into the scene and her endeavour and commitment is as good as anybody’s once the gun goes off.
A major part of the Madness evenings is also the Go Ride events. These are a great first step into the MTB world for the kids and the aim is to nurture them going forwards and who knows to produce the champions of tomorrow. There is a lot of time and effort involved in setting these events up and they are an integrel and important part of the whole event.
Finally praise goes to organiser Mick Speirs of Horwich CC alongside Karen Long and the team for another superbly organised and managed event, to Rob Allen for providing the spectacular and unique start gate as well as other sterling tasks that keep the event running smoothly, to the paramedics and mountain resue teams for being on standby and of course all the riders and their families who turned out on a miserable school night to make this a great event
So round one is done and another four to go. From a photographers perspective I can only pray for better weather and more daylight to do justice to the spectacle that is Midweek MTB Madness.
Madness, Madness, They Call it Madness…………