GEM Grass Track Meeting

GEM Grass Track Meeting

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GEM Estate Management Grass Track Meeting

Saturday, 6th of June, 2009, Letchworth Garden City
Report by Andrew Brooke, Photographs by Sarah Brooke

In the pretty town of Letchworth, Max Pendleton, ably assisted by Chief commissaire Paul Savage, Assistant commissaire Julia Gilbert and Starter Kate Kennedy, put on a marvellous afternoons entertainment as riders came from around the country for the annual Grass Track meeting there.

The significant junior contingent among the entrants coped well with the blustery but dry conditions and all of the riders were encouraged along by a knowledgeable commentator (Dave Kennedy) and a number of well wrapped up spectators. The first of the events for the meeting were the heats of the 800m Scratch Sprint, part of the National Short Distance League.

With fresh legs, the heats were fast and furious and there were some close fought battles. First heat winners Bryan Taylor (VC Londres), Richard Lambert (Cottingham Couriers RT) and John McClelland (Agiskoviner) the National Hard Track Endurance League title winner in 2007 and 2008, going through as of right to the final leaving the remaining riders to fight it out in the repecharges.

Between the Senior events, the Juvenile Omnium event series was held consisting of the 400 metre Time Trial, 800m Handicap, Juvenile 1600m and Devil take the hindmost. All of the Under 16 riders put their hearts and souls into every single one of the Omnium events, giving it everything until they had hit the finish line.

With the Juvenile Devils having such large fields, and on a 400m circuit with a taxing wind, anyone who lost the wheel in front was destined for a hard ride to the line. The CC Ashwell Youth Section heavily outnumbered the competition and took the first three places with boys juvenile winners:

Juvenile Omnium  

Under 16 A Riders  
1st Jack Withington 
2nd Joshua Maynard 
3rd George Bateman 
4th Edward Goater 
5th George Eva 
Under 14 B & C Riders  
1st Theo Doncaster 
2nd Joe Page 
3rd Matthew Ellis 
4th Daniel Maynard 
5th Jack Norton 

Ladies Omnium winners
1st Jodie Brumhead 
2nd Hanna Payton 
3rd Claire Larby 
4th Karen Lifford 
5th Fiona Pegg 
6th Karen Pegg 
7th Harriet Page 
8th Rebecca Maynard 

The 800m Scratch Sprint Repecharge heats followed, with Matthew Fenton (Cottingham Couriers RT), Adam Ellis (Spalding CC) and Bradley Burbridge ( all going through to the final. The 800m final was a tussle between youth and experience, which lead to an exiting race with Bryan Taylor leading out after the first bend shakeout and taking the bell for the last lap of the 400m track.

He was closely followed by John McClelland and Bradley Burbridge, with the remaining riders gradually getting tailed off. Bryan Taylor was obviously trying to destroy the opposition with some fast pace riding but he hadn't reckoned with the a sudden attack from Bradley Burbridge, who took lessons from his mistake to leave his sprint too late in his heat with John McClelland, made his move with 300m to go and had a couple of bike lengths lead heading down the back straight.

With no assistance from the other riders, Bryan Taylor gritted his teeth in pursuit, but try as he might he could not close the gap and Bradley Burbridge held on all the way to the line. Bryan Taylor just had enough left and dug deep in the sprint with John McClelland for second. If Bradley keeps this kind of racing up will be a sure fire star for the future.

Race results:
1st Bradley Burbridge (
2nd Bryan Taylor (VC Londres)
3rd John McClelland (Agiskoviner).

The final event of the day was the 8Km Scratch
It was an easy paced start with riders doing bit and bit on the front of the bunch for the first few laps, but it wasn't to last. Matthew Fenton and Leigh Haigh (Victoria CC) eased off the front and working together created a significant gap. The bunch let them hang out for a couple more laps until with fear that the gap would get too big, Bryan Taylor and Gavin Daley (VC Lincoln) shot out of the following group to chase down the leaders. The next pair to try the chase out of the rapidly splintering pack were John McClelland and Martin Smith (Chesterfield Couriers).

Two laps later and with a defiant show of strength, Bryan Taylor rode away from his chase partner and closed the 100m gap to the leaders. Gavin Daley, John McClelland and Martin Smith fell back to the remnants of the bunch and tried a desperate chase back to the three leaders. But with the added impetus from Bryan Taylor, the gap between the leading trio and the bunch was now increasing to the point where even the combined efforts of the remaining six riders were not enough keep it from growing.

With the back of the race splintering it was now the turn of the leaders to take a hammering and Bryan Taylor was the man with the hammer, powering away from his race partners, and in the process, lapping all but the 4th place rider for a well deserved, and hard fought win.

Race results:
1st Bryan Taylor (VC Londres)
2nd Leigh Haigh (Victoria CC)
3rd Matthew Fenton (Cottingham Couriers RT)

Other race results:
800m Handicap:
1st John McClelland (Agiskoviner)
2nd Martin Smith (Chesterfield Couriers)
3rd Andy Ballentyne (Easterly Road Club)

Unknown Distance:
1st Bryan Taylor (VC Londres)
2nd Bradley Burbridge (
3rd Andrzej Borjarski (Hemel Hempstead CC)

All in all, the grass track meeting was an exciting days entertainment with plenty of action and good racing for all ages and abilities. It was great to see so many young riders enjoying their sport. Grass track racing is well worth a try for any rider at any level, its good fun for the spectator too.