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Race Report: UK National XC Round 1 Day 1 Tong

Mar 25, 2023 at 15:27
by Nick Bentley  
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The first national race of the year is always an exciting moment of mountain bikers. It means winter is over and it's time to go racing. This year the National XC series opened the 2023 season. Not only did it bring with it a new season but also bringing a whole new National Series to life with 2023 being the first year of the National XC Short Track series. This will take place throughout the year on the Saturday of the XC National Series weekend and it will see riders of all ages race it out over a 20 minute window on shorter courses designed to produce more closely fought racing.

This year the XC National Series started in Tong. A track known already for its crazy A-line options and ferocious rock slabs, has been reworked to step it up another level again this year but we will see more of that tomorrow but for now, sit back and enjoy Saturday's action from Yorkshire.

Leon Atkins chilling out on the start line
Leon Atkins chilling out on the start line

Short Track racing is all about action and Tong s track didn t disappoint with plenty of bar-to-bar action
Short Track racing is all about action and Tong's track didn't disappoint with plenty of bar-to-bar action

The Short track course led to some tight head to head racing
The Short track course led to some tight head-to-head racing

Rotor Racing s Sullivan Berry put in the hard miles running an entire lap due to a puncture. Short Track rules mean he was not able to have technical assistance but this didn t stop him battling on for his overall series points
Rotor Racing's Sullivan Berry put in the hard miles running an entire lap due to a puncture. Short Track rules mean he was not able to have technical assistance but this didn't stop him from battling on for his overall series points

Not all heroes wear capes. In a day where jackets were essential this helpful spectator probably took care of more than his fair share
Not all heroes wear capes. In a day where jackets were essential, this helpful spectator probably took care of more than his fair share

Paul Oldham taking the time to get rid of his mud-covered glasses with a quick flick to the side of the track safely into the hands of one of the Hope Factory racing team
Paul Oldham taking the time to get rid of his mud-covered glasses with a quick flick to the side of the track, safely into the hands of one of the Hope Factory racing team

The Short Track races were grouped with Youth and Juvenile racing Veteran s of all ages racing together and in the final race the Juniors facing it off with the Senior and Elite riders
The Short Track races were grouped with Youth and Juvenile racing, Veteran's of all ages racing together, and in the final race the Juniors facing it off with the Senior and Elite riders

Max Greensill showing he s been putting in the hard work over winter taking the win in the Senior and Elite Short Track an impressive feat for a Junior Rider
Max Greensill showing he's been putting in the hard work over winter, taking the win in the Senior and Elite Short Track, an impressive feat for a Junior Rider

The Short Track races were grouped with Youth and Juvenile racing Veteran s of all ages racing together and in the final race the Juniors facing it off with the Senior and Elite riders
The Short Track races were grouped with Youth and Juvenile racing, Veteran's of all ages racing together, and in the final race the Juniors facing it off with the Senior and Elite riders

Short Track racing also pitted the girls against the guys and in the Junior and Senior races WXC World Racing Bethany-Ann Jackson took the women s win and whilst she was at it finished right in the middle of the pack overall
Short Track racing also pitted the girls against the guys, and in the Junior and Senior races WXC World Racing Bethany-Ann Jackson took the women's win and, whilst she was at it finished right in the middle of the pack overall

The slabs at Tong played a bit more low-key role in the Short Track race
The slabs at Tong played a bit more low-key role in the Short Track race

Despite being away some things never change with Paul Oldham leading the Vets race from start to finish
Despite being away, some things never change with Paul Oldham leading the Vets race from start to finish

It was a tough battle for second place in the Youth Men Short Track for Leon Atkins and Alex Hart
It was a tough battle for second place in the Youth Men Short Track for Leon Atkins and Alex Hart

Matthew Ainsworth battled hard through the mud but somehow unlike every other rider managing to avoid getting too much stuck to him
Matthew Ainsworth battled hard through the mud but somehow, unlike every other rider, managed to avoid getting too much stuck to him

Madeline Moorhouse-Smith of Hope Factory Racing splashing her way to taking the win in Female Youth Short Track
Madeline Moorhouse-Smith of Hope Factory Racing splashing her way to taking the win in Female Youth Short Track

Somewhere under that mud is Leon Atkins
Somewhere under that mud is Leon Atkins

Time to clean the number board for Mark Wood. In the wet conditions it s always great when the riders help out both the media teams and commissaries by occasionally clearing their number board
Time to clean the number board for Mark Wood. In the wet conditions it's always great when the riders help out both the media teams and commissaries by occasionally clearing their number board

Joseph Laidler trying to put the power down through the sticky Yorkshire mud
Joseph Laidler trying to put the power down through the sticky Yorkshire mud

Max Standen of Southfork Racing took the win in the Juvenile and Youth ShortTrack race. Max had the honour of being the first-ever winner in a National XC Short Track Series race
Max Standen of Southfork Racing took the win in the Juvenile and Youth ShortTrack race. Max had the honour of being the first-ever winner in a National XC Short Track Series race

The first XCO race of the year at the 2023 National Series was the Open and Sport classes these are supposed to be the fun side of racing but this doesn t come without a competitive edge
The first XCO race of the year at the 2023 National Series was the Open and Sport classes; these are supposed to be the fun side of racing but this doesn't come without a competitive edge

It s a lonely ride along the fire road
It's a lonely ride along the fire road

Despite it being an XC race John White of Chase Racing couldn t resist the urge to send it
Despite it being an XC race, John White of Chase Racing couldn't resist the urge to send it

If there is any more rain overnight Day 2 of Round 1 may see these rocks become even more treacherous
If there is any more rain overnight, Day 2 of Round 1 may see these rocks become even more treacherous

Tong s rocks lay in wait for all of today s riders
Tong's rocks lay in wait for all of today's riders

Other riders took a more conventional route
Other riders took a more conventional route

Jim Vernon taking a creative line after slab A-line
Jim Vernon taking a creative line after slab A-line

It was a tough day for some riders. Tong is truly one of the most technically demanding XC tracks you ll find in the UK
It was a tough day for some riders. Tong is truly one of the most technically demanding XC tracks you'll find in the UK

And the B-line giving an additional 3 options of track
And the B-line giving an additional 3 options of track

The infamous Tong Gully returned once again with the A-Line featuring this log drop into a chute
The infamous Tong Gully returned once again with the A-Line featuring this log drop into a chute

Thomas Ellis on the gas along one of the many fire road stretches
Thomas Ellis on the gas along one of the many fire road stretches

Jim Vernon took the lead early on in the Men s Sport Race leading all four laps and taking the win
Jim Vernon took the lead early on in the Men's Sport Race leading all four laps and taking the win

The conditions at Tong made it difficult for everyone - grip was at a premium
The conditions at Tong made it difficult for everyone - grip was at a premium

The track at Tong goes around an off road driving course so there s normally plenty of water to be found but with rain falling all night the night before and throughout the day plenty of puddles and mud greeted the riders for Round 1
The track at Tong goes around an off road driving course so there's normally plenty of water to be found, but with rain falling all night the night before and throughout the day plenty of puddles and mud greeted the riders for Round 1

One of the few slightly longer climbs brought the riders back up from the Gully to the top of the rock slab section
One of the few slightly longer climbs, brought the riders back up from the Gully to the top of the rock slab section

Amber Hull took the win in the women s Open race this weekend
Amber Hull took the win in the women's Open race this weekend

In the wet conditions the roots soon came out to play keeping plenty of riders on their toes
In the wet conditions the roots soon came out to play, keeping plenty of riders on their toes

Not everyone in the Sport and Open race was in full lycra and on high-end XC bikes with plenty of people out giving it a go on their normal trail bikes
Not everyone in the Sport and Open race was in full lycra and on high-end XC bikes, with plenty of people out giving it a go on their normal trail bikes

The technical Tong track had plenty of challenges for the riders however the climbs were relatively mild with it being a mix of more fire-road drags and punchy short climbs
The technical Tong track had plenty of challenges for the riders, however, the climbs were relatively mild with it being a mix of more fire-road drags and punchy short climbs

The grit and mud that was churned up took it s toll on many riders bikes fortunately for this rider it was just a dropped chain
The grit and mud that was churned up took it's toll on many riders' bikes, fortunately for this rider it was just a dropped chain

But definitely the quickest route was straight off the drop
But definitely the quickest route was straight off the drop

The Yorkshire mud spa treatment was an added bonus to your race entry
The Yorkshire mud spa treatment was an added bonus to your race entry

Chief Comm for the day Al ran the show with his normal cool calm demeanour
Chief Comm for the day Al ran the show with his normal cool calm demeanour

However Al is not working on his own. There is a huge team at National events of British Cycling commissaries who are unpaid volunteers working hard to keep everyone safe and make sure racing is fair and without them we wouldn t be racing at all
However, Al is not working on his own. There is a huge team at National events of British Cycling commissaries who are unpaid volunteers working hard to keep everyone safe and make sure racing is fair and without them we wouldn't be racing at all!



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7 Comments
  • 13 0
 I mean how heavy is a marsh guard or equivalent?
You'd think of all the weight you'd save reducing the mud on your face, not to mention being able to see, it would be a no brainer.
Honestly don't understand the xc mentality of not running a front guard that weighs all of 30g or something when Conditions are like this.
  • 3 0
 spray off the back wheel of the rider in front is where a lot of the mud comes from
  • 2 0
 As someone who races and raced this I sometimes think the same - I used a guard (practiced with a mudhugger but was too big and causing clogging, so used smaller one on Sunday, which was fine) and pretty sure it helped though still got a face full of it, even when not following but as others said, a lot comes off other riders and additionally many of these riders ride CX so probably used to corneas full of grit - just ads to the suffering fun ;-)
  • 10 0
 What's the main soil type in Tong? My guess would be peat.
  • 1 0
 Is this track open to the public? There is some ok riding around Tong and Pudsey on Bridleways and in the woods, but this looks a bit different
  • 2 0
 It's the Parkwood offroad centre, they have a couple of mtb events during the year but it's mainly offroad 4x4 and motorbikes
www.parkwoodoutdoorsltd.com
  • 2 0
 What utterly filthy fun!







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