MSG Rd 4 Ickworth House
On Sunday I raced in the fourth round of the Mud Sweat and Gears series which was held at Ickworth house near Bury St Edmunds.
Despite the hot weather on the day the previous day’s rain storm had had an effect and I could tell from the bikes of riders that had already raced that much of the course was very muddy, which was a shame as I had only brought summer tyres with me.
A quick reconnaissance lap revealed that there was s drying line over much of the lap but there was still one section where I was going to be forced to push due to a lack of grip. The rest of the wooded section consisted primarily of tacky mud which managed to sap any feeling of speed. Near the end of the lap, the course exited woods and headed down across a grassy field towards two bombholes with multiple line choices either through or around each of them giving the opportunity for a bit of airtime before returning to the start finish straight via the feed zone.
As usual, the Masters racers were gridded behind the Elites, Experts and Juniors but set off at the same time as them. Off the start I seemed to get away well but within a two pedal strokes there was a coming together ahead of me and riders were flying in all directions to avoid hitting each other. I had to come to a stop with a foot down before I could get going again. By the time I got moving I had been swamped by the rest of the masters field and going uphill into the muddy woods I was unable to find space to move up.
Once we hit the mud, riders slowed down but passing was still difficult as the drying line meant that going off line to pass others was both hard a sketchy. I was taken out by other riders twice in the 1st lap before I managed to get away and find some clear track.
After turning down the offer of a bottle after lap one, I looked down to take a drink only to find that I had lost my bottle in one of my crashes on lap 1. The hottest race of the year wasn’t the best day to race the first two laps without a drink but by lap 3 I had a bottle and was taking some big swigs to get my hydration back in order.
Due to my poor start, I was slightly down on where I was in rounds 1 and 2, I treid to bridge back up to Paddy Atkinson, and caught sight of him during lap 4 but he took advantage of his 5th lap being his last in order to pull away.
Going into the 6th lap I could not see any other Masters riders so I concentrated on staying ahead of Tom Ward and made sure I got round to the finish in one piece.
I the end I was a few seconds up on Tom and about 3 minutes ahead of the second placed Masters rider Nick Drew.
In the Elite races, Jon Pybus took the men’s win by almost 3 minutes from Richard Dunnett with Callum Riley in third while Hollie Bettles won the female race ahead of Anna Buick.