The 2014 Welsh Mountain Bike Series got under way beneath blue skies but the sunshine that the organisers had longed for came too late to help dry out much of the course. The promise that spring had indeed sprung did, however, entice many riders to the scenic Mountain View Ranch venue on Sunday.
The Under 8s were first off and Cycle-tec's Alfie Davies gave an impressive performance as he lapped all but fellow Mid Wales rider Cian Evans en route to victory by nearly 2 minutes; Anwen Nesham (Cardiff JIF) was first girl. Griff Lewis from Aberystwyth followed suit in the Under 10 race with only Jack Hastings of Cardiff JIF finishing on the same lap but Mid Devon CC's Freddie Birchill was never out of sight as Towy Rider Iwan Evans fought, in vain, to stay in touch in the Under 12 race. Evelyn Higgins-Worrall (Abergavenny RC) and Josie Nelson (Solihull CC) comfortably won in the Under 10 and Under 12 girls respectively.
Older brother Harry made it a Birchill family double with victory by over 4 minutes in the 2 lap Juvenile race; Abergavenny RC's Megan James held off Kim Baptista in the girls' race. Tomos Nesham (Cardiff JIF) led the Youth race going into the third and final lap but, unfortunately, suffered breathing difficulties with only a kilometre to go and it was Jack Broadley (Cardiff Ajax) who took the win. Emily Wadsworth (Beeline Bicycles) was the convincing winner of the girls' race. Junior Woman Ffion James (Abergavenny RC) maintained a slender race-long lead over Evie Richards; Robert Rogers (Birkenhead North End CC) had a more comfortable cushion in the Junior Men's race.
Mondraker UK's Dexter Hurlock was unable to regain the early lead he lost to Matt Thompson mid-way through the 6 lap Elite Men's race and had to settle for second place behind the Cardiff JIF rider; Nicholas Corlett (Manx Mountain Bike Club) took victory in the Expert Men's category. And mid-way through the Expert Women's race Sally Gabriel (One Planet Adventure) overhauled Sophie Fennell of Malvern Cycle Sport, holding on to win by just 5 seconds. Melanie Alexander comfortably won the Elite Women's race.
It was a three-way battle in the Sport Men's race with little separating Ben Piringer (Naked Bikes), Carwyn Davies (Towy Racing CC) and Rich Hobbs (Bike City t3). Piringer had the upper hand, however, and held off Davies for the win, with Hobbs off the pace on the final lap. Donna Morris took victory in the combined women's race. Husband Phil led the Master Men's field through the finish arch after the first lap but Lee Shunburne (Fossa Racing) was on his wheel and eventually opened a gap that Morris was unable to close. Lewis King secured a second convincing win for Beeline Bicycles but it was another close race in the Grand Veteran category as Grant Johnson (Sunset Cycles) and Peter Turnbull (Gateway Racing) battled it out; an all out effort on the final lap gave Turnbull the victory.
A big thank you goes to Julian Beere and his team at Maindy Flyers for all their efforts in ensuring the event went ahead; who could have predicted when the series dates were set that it would be the wettest winter on record.
If you want to get started in mountian biking, try the Maindy Flyers Go MTB at Fforest Fawr on Saturday 19 April