Ickworth House is more famous for its Stately Home and Gardens that adorn the vast land occupied by the estate on the edge of Bury St. Edmunds, the home race for the Revel Team. Team numbers were down from a bit of illness and a clash with the shop supported Womens Ride in town, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of myself (Darren Styles), Jack Styles, Iain kemp, Richard Muchmore and Justin Sanderson.
The natural woodland on the edge of the estate is more used to walkers, deer and dogs than hordes of cyclists on a Sunday, but luckily for us Matt and Graham and the rest of the MSG crew had done a great job of laying out a lap that not only flowed, but had enough in store to keep riders of all abilities occupied. The days leading up to the event had been hot, dry and had turned the course into a fast 4 mile loop that would see lap times plummet as it bedded in. Sadly for us, the only time it was dry on the Sunday was during early morning as practice was underway!
10am was race time for Jack in the juvenile class; as he sat on the grid a few spots of rain arrived, which slowly turned into a steady downpour that turned dry dusty trails into a sticky clay-based mess. After 2 laps, Jack had moved up from his grid position only to crash on the off camber entrance to the big bomb hole! The resulting tumble saw him get hit by his own bike. A nice set of bruises and a sore leg saw him retire with a bit of relief that dry clothes were not far away.
By now the rain had set in. Luckily it stopped at around 12 but with only an hour to go the chances of a dry race had long gone. But the trails were starting to slowly improve.
With the Veterans Race starting at 2pm, the chance to practice came at 1pm for Darren, Iain, Richard and Justin. A nice steady start to the lap in tricky conditions was just what was required. To settle in nicely and look for the best lines, Ian and Justin picked there way around, and returned to the grid ready to race, after removing several pounds of finest Suffolk clay from their bikes! Darren on the other hand was out in the woods fixing a puncture, which was just the start of his troubles! With lots of mud hanging off the bike, the chain firstly jammed, and shortly after snapped, resulting in a long walk back, arriving just as the race started. This meant a non start and the chance to support the others instead.
Iain and Justin both rode absolute blinders – conditions slowly improved and as it got faster they both picked their way round to a season best 9th for Iain and 19th for Justin, great considering that Justin had a lay down on one of the corners, and Iain had to stop and clear mud from his skinny steel frame on a couple of occasions. Richard had a good, consistent race but finished just off the podium in 4th place.
Hopefully we will be blessed by a heatwave at the next round in August!
Photos from John Styles (aka randomoldbloke).
“After watching the forecast for a few days, I was ready for a muddy event, and the bikes on the roofs of cars leaving as we drove in confirmed it! The practice lap was entertaining, many a tumble around me, but I stopped early on and let some pressure out of my tyres, which helped a lot. A quick trip back to my car to remove a few pounds of mud, let a little more air out of tyres, and off to the grid. I got a great start, up to about 5th, but backed off a little too much, and tumbled back to my more customary 20th ish! Still I felt good, and picked my way around the accidents, until near the end of the lap, when my gears stopped changing. I stopped twice to clear the mud, but it made no difference, so apart from the odd change on really bumpy bits, single speed it was! The course was great fun as it dried, I like fighting a sliding bike, and I even scraped on to the lead lap, coming home joint 9th as I ran out of revs on the finish straight! Disappointed as could have been a better result, but still my best this year, and learnt a bit more too!”