‘After the longish summer break from the toils of the MTB race circuit, Sunday 6thSeptember saw the re-run of last weeks postponed Ridge Road Extreme MTB race, 9thof the season with 3 to go, and what a race it was. The course name is a fair reflection of what the racers had to face which included tight technical tracks, fast and tricky forest sections, the undulating road/dirt track of the ridge and steep inclines thrown in to boot. This race had something for everyone, although required concentration, stamina and determination in buckets.
With safety in mind and due to the technical nature and difficulty of the course the invitation to race was thrown open to only the most hardy and gifted of the BVI MTB Club, which meant only a total of 7 racers were deemed hard enough to take on the challenge. This of course meant the absence of a number of high profile racers including current standings leader Justin ‘Kiwi Warrior’ Smit, who decided to keep a low profile on the run up to this race knowing that his light but fragile torso is unable take punishment more severe than a slap from Liberace. Another notable absence was BVI tri-god Anthony Spencer, who had been part of the original line up but was seen leaving the course the previous Sunday muttering something about switching from slicks to knobblies in between sobs with a look of terror in his eyes. Spencer has not been seen since.
Two more drop outs included John ‘Hot’ Ayres and Laurens ‘The Crumbling Tower’ Bloc. Ayres preferred the safer option of riding his road bike around the airport (Extreme!!) and Bloc was seen in Road Town wearing a dress.
At this juncture the MTB Club would like to announce it will be holding a memorial service to the demise of Alastair Abrehart’s will to race with the boys and girls of the MTB Club. Attempts are still being made to resuscitate Abrehart’s mojo but all efforts, ranging from kindness to extreme violence, have so far failed. All racers are still hanging onto the hope that the PR mogul will grace us with his much missed presence for the last races of the season.
A quick run-down of the course, which starts from Sage Mountain Restaurant and into the canopy of Sage itself. The first section involved a technical single path of rock and mud, which often required riders to dismount such was the extreme nature of the terrain. This eventually breaks into a ride-able partially worn and rutted vehicle track, a trap for the unwary, and then onto the initial downhill section leading onto the Ridge Road and heading east to the turnaround point at Georges Northside and the long hard grind uphill back to Sage.
Onto the race. Conditions on Sunday were far more favourable than those of the previous weekend, which meant that hard and fast racing would be on the cards. Racers to watch out for this week include the Pettigrew’s, fresh from two months altitude training in Colorado, and the naturally fit Tim ‘Bouffant’ Clipstone, who’s ability to negotiate steep inclines has only been matched by the likes of Everest mountaineer Chris Bonnington.
The start line up was a mix of senior and junior racers, the latter keen to show the old folks how to negotiate the Sage section like a pro. With the off Dangerous Dave Pettigrew was away like a ninja dancing over roof tops, closely followed by junior rider John Cullimore, happy to be on his home turf and eager to demonstrate his local knowledge. Nipping at their heels was Iain ‘Sky’ Walker, bent on consolidating his current second place in the general standings, Caroline ‘Iron lady’ Pettigrew, junior Derek ‘Del-Boy’ Pettigrew, Monsieur Bouffant himself Tim Clipstone, Jim ‘Iron Horse’ Cullimore, Rusty ‘Nails’ Burns and Aussie pin up Shane Donovan holding up the rear after he missed the gun due to a bad hair day hissy fit.
Slicing through the trees of Sage, Dangerous Dave Pettigrew set the early pace, hotly pursued by local hero John Cullimore. Despite efforts to pass the ageing Pettigrew, young Cullimore was repeatedly pinned back. Frustrated at being held up by the old man, Cullimore finally launched a brave but foolhardy passing maneuver upon seeing the narrowest of windows, although this was to prove his undoing as the aggressive Pettigrew dropped his shoulder on the younger pretender and forced him off the track and down a precipice, only to be saved from certain injury or worse by a small sapling. One thing was clear from this unsavoury episode, Dangerous Dave Pettigrew wasn’t going to give up his lead lightly.
Slightly further back from the Pettigrew/Cullimore scuffle was Iain ‘Sky’ Walker, trying to negotiate the trees like his namesake through the Forest of Endor. This was to end in a massive fail for Walker as he lost traction on a rocky section, which saw the Iron Lady Pettigrew and her offspring slide on by with ease. Peeved at his schoolboy mistake Skywalker set off in pursuit, but it was to prove a lamentable error as the advantage was passed well and truly to Dave Pettigrew, who had now established a clear lead. Finally passing Caroline Pettigrew and her sibling, Walker put the pedal to the metal in an attempt to close the gap on young Cullimore and Dangerous Dave, taking risks on the faster forest sections were possible, although constantly aware of the threat of Clipstone. Emerging from the vegetation Walker afforded himself a look over his shoulder and was buoyed to see the climbing specialists progress as little more than the gamble of a fairy in the undergrowth. This was not Clipstone’s preferred environment, that was for sure.
As the riders broke onto the harder surfaces of the ridge road the field had stretched out considerably, with Dave Pettigrew pushing his lead. Skywalker was soon to chase down young Cullimore, but could he capitalise on his power advantage over the downhill sections and catch Pettigrew, as this would be a difficult ask on the inclines of the return leg.
Upon reaching the turn point at Georges Northside the riders would get an idea of the time difference between their rivals. Pettigrew was to turn first with SkyWalker down by circa 2 minutes on the lead, Clipstone a similar distance behind the man of steel gluts and Lady Pettigrew in fourth. Yet it would be the return leg where places would potentially switch, comprising predominantly of medium to step climbs with few flat or downhill sections, this would favour the climbing specialists Clipstone and Pettigrew. This would be a worry for Walker, who has trouble climbing stairs.
With the field now spread along the ridge like strawberry jam, the attention switches to the final cat 1 climb of the day up to the finish line at the Sage Mountain restaurant. On the line was Rusty ‘Nails’ Burns who had been demoted to time keeper after his bike failed him on the exit of the first stage around Sage Mountain and he dropped out with a snapped chain.
First past the line was the overly aggressive and determined Dangerous Dave Pettigrew, capitalizing on a strong start to take his first win of the season. The question now is who would take the spoils of second place, Walker of Clipstone? Four minutes behind Pettigrew the arrival of the second place rider prompted loud cheers from the crowd as SkyWalker peeked the mountain having held off the might of Clipstone on the savage climbs of the return leg, the first time Walker has pipped Clipstone to the post and well deserved it was too. Clipstone netted a third place following just over two minutes behind.
Despite the thinned out field, this was a great new addition to the race circuit and one that will feature each year no doubt. With just 3 races of the season the standings are tight, with Smit leading the table by just 11 points from Walker, with Dave Pettigrew 14 points behind in third. One thing for sure is that it will be down to the wire come final race day on Peter Island, and although Smit has been dominant so far this season he can no longer afford to rest on his laurels during these closing races.
A full run down of race placings and timings is detailed below.’
Special mention has to go to the Juniors riders who took part in Sundays race on a shorter but no less demanding course. These guys definitely showed the seniors how to tackle the tech of Sage Mountain and led the way forward from the start. Placings for the Junior race are:
The next race is the Reverse Carrot Bay/Belmont Loop taking place this Sunday 13thSeptember. Please gather in Sebastian’s car park in Apple Bay for registration 6:30-6:45 in time for the race start at 7am.