NPS UK Prem1er series Round 1 - Newnham park Plymouth.

Photopic Gallery here Newnham weekend . Other links on this page are to individual shots in that gallery, in case you've checked them out already
Instant braking power of water The National points series needed a big wake up kick, as entries have declined over the years. Martyn Salt has taken over the organisation reins and the new format was unveiled to racers scrutiny at a sunny Newnham Park for an Easter bank holiday weekend festival.

Day 1 saw the XC races, as Smiffy, Lloyd and Nige, joined by the leisure lakes boys Adi and Ryan attacked the great course.
All the talk on the pre-laps was about the new section named the Mineshaft. Those that love technical stuff were grinning from ear to ear, others were caking themselves. That's what we like to see back in XC courses, this is after all the countries Elite championships, Jack nearly put an Entry in after a lap, but instead settled down to watch the other racers sweat.

Newnham starts always entertain, off the line its flat out into the first water crossing, which was extra deep after a downpour overnight.
The vultures and video cameras all watch as the leaders hit the water at speed, it fair rips the bars out of your hands at 25mph entry speed. The followers don't do much better as the bottleneck causes crashes.
Juniors go for a swim The juniors provided the best entertainment, click on the photo link and then use the next photo link to follow the carnage.
One rider lost it and flipped over the bars, see the frame by frame action as he realises he's got to drink earlier than expected, and as another rode straight over his bike before losing it too.

If you recognize yourself in action there, and would like a copy of the video action mail numplumz for a copy.

Masters turn and Smiffy managed to get through OK, Lloyd was not so lucky getting pushed wide and into the real deep section and had to dismount.

The course took in one monster climb before dropping through the woods in some switchback turns, the the Mineshaft faced riders. It was surprising how many walked this hey Nige, Nikki Harris showed the lads up with a fast smooth descent. Others Gary Fischer seemed to struggle with weird 29 inch wheels
Lloyd flew down slamming into the bottom berms and rode it with style, other riders shouting nutter at him were either just jealous or genuinely crap riders who should keep to the tarmac.
Smiffy's first lap looked good, ahead of Denby here lloyd struggling to get going
A rare shot of Nige in actin this year Smiffy flew for a lap then the amount of racing done recently in the Gorrick's hit him, and he pulled out whilst going backwards quickly. Well he was on holiday here for a few days, guess the Ice creams were melting.
Lloyd too was suffering, a slow start but got better as the 4 laps progressed, finally coming home in 18th place for some series points. Like most the great course kept even the tiredest of riders grinning, that's if the Mineshaft didn't get you.

Nige still suffering from a back that has apparently 4 vertebrae locked together could not resist the lure of a great course, and put in an appearance in the Sport race for a few laps.

Jack reckoned this new improved racing was great, well for him any way as he spent the day chasing riders for photos and manning the pit complete with tea making and big cakes.
The Elites did there usual crazy number of laps but it still took a sprint finish for Oli to beat Nick, a good ride from Stephen Roach in 3rd too.
Ryan (somebody get this man a glasses sponsor) never shut up all day after passing the legend that is Barry Clarke on his last lap whilst Adi kept his head down for his first Elite finish.
Jack tries to get Adi in round 2 Around 7pm, Short-track was released to the still waiting public, at last something to entertain us into a race weekend evening.

The Idea was heats of 8 riders doing 2 laps of a tight twisty 400 metre course with 4 going through each time on a knockout basis. Riders really warmed to it, the start was manic and a real war into the first corner, handling skills and raw speed rather than top fitness were required.

In the Heats Adi binned it but still got through, whilst Jack dropped it (Adi churned up the track he said !) in 2nd after a storming lap but held on to go through.


Jon Webb looked impressive in the heats untill Evil Nick (© JRA) took him out .
Jody Crawforth seemed to breeze through but still managed a few slips
Adis away - Jack bogged down Jack and Adi lined up against each other for the next batch of heats, how did it go Jack.

" well I got a pants start, Adi got away 4th I was almost dead last 7th, I let them knacker themselves out for a lap before charging back on lap 2. Caught Adi who was 4th but just could not get past, so we both went out."
"I raced on the Ti-X frame with 26" wheels, skinny tires and rigid forks thinking the organisers would have a course like a dragstrip. Gladly they didn't it was really twisty and more like dual racing. Big bars, tyres and bounce for next time, and perhaps some spiked elbow pads."

Jody showed he's not National Champ and a mean Cyclo-x rider for nowt and took the cash prize easily in an exciting final as Nick Craig battled through from last to 2nd.

It was a great event and can only get better, get your entries in now, as its 64 riders only for each round.
Adi leads the Short-track Plumz challenge for now, with 1 round and a 5th.
  Trek Enduro courseTrek 6-4 -2 Enduro Course
Day 2 dawned and the campsite was still looking busy, Trek have come up with a new Enduro format, choose your poison. Same course for all, solo pairs or teams of four for the number of hours you Fancy.
Jack hit the 6 hours, starting in the warmth at 10am, a fair collection had gone for this format, the same freezing water crossing faced the riders and the same killer hill, which they plodded up considerably slower than the previous days races.

The organisation was superb, riders joined the fray after 2 and 4 hours, but the 2nd lap of every event had you take in the full 9 mile lap as shown above. This led to a smooth addition of fresher riders without hindering those already on course.

For those that rode Sundays XC races the Enduro route used the majority of the course from the XC race with an extra couple of miles at the beginning and in the middle to take the length up to 8.6 miles.
The stream crossing was on the left of the original one and harder to clean, then some new climbing into the woods on the first climbs left hand side.
This was slippy in places and had a front wheel catching descent to a sharp corner and then the shock of a real marshy section and another bombhole type water splash.
This spat you out on some sweet fast singletrack back onto the long grassy climb and then followed the original course for a while.
Up top the Cauldron (switchback's that spat you onto the road just before the Mineshaft) took the route back towards the famed Zigzag descent, a personal fav. of mine from the NPS here two years ago, and more than made up for the lack of Mineshaft. Its a cracking descent that flies between 4 tight bermed corners, long enough to get to 20+ between brake pad roasting. this spat you back out onto the fireroad at the bottom and then you faced a second deep but ride-able river crossing. There were plenty of people here baying for blood, all we got were colder feet.

Now forget the first climb, this one was the biggest single gain of the day, see that 3rd peak on the map Ouch!
It took us out onto the moor then over a wall following before some amazingly slow sticky singletrack, still climbing. Added pain came in the form of nearby bank hol Monday B-B-Q' smells wafting over from the day trippers up here, ummm sausages.

This brought a superb new section for us Enduro heads, a sweet long singletrack section weaves its way through the trees, up and over banks, a log jump, and then an even steeper bermed swooping descent into the slop that heralded the third river crossing, deeper still but still ride-able, Bottom brackets, and wheel bearings are history with this course.

More climbing and you were back onto the XC course to finish as you guys did.
The final singletrack is a legend, ultra fast and technical it was as fast as you dared especially over the two jumps, and you had to put on a show for the spectators at the 90 deg. corner.
This one section alone makes a lap worth any amount of climbing, 1100ft per lap by Polar monitor.
The race:
Jack set off at his usual cool pace, plenty of granny ring, tailing Jon Webb for a few laps. As every one had ran off home, it was a case of plenty of pit stops for drinks in an un eventful and by all accounts lonely race. Jack and Jon whooped up a few descents together as they traded places for 3 laps, then Jon pulled away.
52 min starting laps soon dropped to 54's and a 57 as a stop for another top was required as conditions cooled. At 5 laps gone moral was low, having not seen a rider in 2 hours on track the mind was crying "give up" but with so many plumz not finishing this weekend, he was not to become another DNF.
The 2hr racers livened things up, and the traditional late charge genes cranked into action, the sweet last descent always there as the carrot to finish yet another lap.

The burst at the end with another 54 min lap for good measure brought Webby back in site into the finishing arena, but it was just too late for a sprint finish. 7 laps and 10th place, only 20 secs slit the two at the end. Jon shows how to take pics properly in his report on JustRidingAlong
Simon White/ Veltis Offshore sport won with 8 laps, 3 others completed 8 laps too, Jack was 9 mins:32 off doing another lap, probably the time he spent in the pits in total, He's glad he didn't have too though.
So the weekends verdict: A potential winner, bigger fields for the Trek Enduro's will come (the prizes were a bit good from Trek) the Short-track cannot fail, it just remains to be seen who will travel to Scotland or Wales to race on a Saturday in the XC.
Required Improvements: A commentator who can inform the public, and the racers, on Sunday what the race updates are. They manage it well at the Enduro6, some form of result 2 hourly print out is essential. It would also help if all the riders in each Enduro race, had a number which identified them as to which race they were in, spectators didn't have a clue what was going on, who were pairs or solos or what.
Results, and pictures are here on the excellent www.justride.co.uk site. Editor David Arthur also finished the 6 Hr race. (thanks to him too for the use of the Nige photo he took)