Ridebike.co.uk rider Mark Chadbourne has spoken of his delight after securing his ‘toughest' National MTB XC Championship win.
Chadbourne was crowned British champion in the veterans' category for riders aged 45 to 49, while teammate Simon Willlats finishing runner up in the 40 to 44 age group. Chadbourne said his sixth title had been the toughest yet with an early crash and a mechanical incident forcing him to deliver a determined solo effort in heavy conditions.
"I was pleased. I led the start but Paul Hopkins took off on the first climb and I thought, ‘I'm not sure I can live with that little surge!' Simon set off after Paul on the next climb and was obviously on a mission," Chadbourne said.
"There was a group of us following through a wooded area, but I made a mistake on a rooty section and Lewis [King] rode in to me and over my bike. When I came out on to the single track section someone said my quick release mechanism was undone. It only took a couple of seconds but the two riders ahead of me had pulled out a gap of about 20 or 30 metres," he added.
Heavy rain had turned trails to quagmire, creating conditions in which Chadbourne usually excels. But he admitted finding the treacherous course surprisingly difficult and dug deep to produce a gold medal winning performance.
"The whole way round was painful. There was no relaxing. It was the toughest of all my national championships. It was just very hard work. It was just a case of grit your teeth, remember why you're there, and get on with it," he said.
Chadbourne praised teammate, Simon Willats, who produced a superb performance to finish a close second to national veterans' champion Paul Hopkins (Merida). Willats, who had returned to England from his home in Perth, Australia, to compete in the championships, said he was delighted with his performance.
He said: "It's the best I've done. I was third last year and third the year before. I just didn't want third again so I'm happy to have got silver! It was a good result. I felt I was actually racing. The climbs on the first half of the circuit were really tough and the second half was into the wind, which made it feel like a climb!"
Rain-soaked conditions had lowered Willats' expectations but he delivered his best performance in weather far removed from the sun-soaked Australian climate in which he had prepared.
"I'm normally a fast and furious, hot, sunny, dusty kind of a rider. But it was just one of those days when everything went right. The bike didn't clog with mud, and the tyres were great. I ran 2.1" Rockin' Rons and let them down as much as I could," he said.
Willats vowed to return from Australia for next year's national championships, where he hopes to finish one place higher and mount the top step of the podium. Ride owner Ritchie Hilton-Foster praised the efforts of all the riders supported by the shop.
"We support the guys to give something back to the sport we love, so results like this are an added bonus. We know Mark and Simon are quick - we've all suffered trying to keep up with them - so it's nice to see their dedication rewarded on the national stage," he said.