Spalding Cycling Club staged their own grass track event – fresh from the Mildenhall Festival.
A change of venue and a single day format instead of the customary three days did not deter large numbers of people from attending what was a resounding success and a credit to the organisers at Mildenhall.
Trialling the new venue with a view to moving back to the three-day format in 2017, the host club managed to juggle a full grass track race programme including the 400m National Championships event, fun events, Audax rides and a trade show.
Vin Denson, one of the first British professionals to have a long and successful career on the continent, including winning a Tour de France stage, was on hand to present the prizes.
With Heckington Show success fresh in their minds and after another training session led by Shane Norton, a small Go Ride team of Tom Wright, Ed Gurney, Velvet and Jack Bowser put in fine performances on a fast track – boosting confidence for Spalding’s own event.
Organised by Max Pendleton, events followed the omnium format – among others a keirin, sprint, handicap and devil take the hindmost races with points awarded for competitor.
Repeating his 2015 debut result, Jack Bowser rode strongly by outclassing rivals Izaac Carr of Colchester Rovers and Ashwell’s Finlay Bracewell to win the Juvenile E Class for boys under 8.
In the under-12 girls omnium, Velvet Bowser – up against a strong combination of Colchester Rovers’ Jodie Taylor and Emily Richards of Bourne Wheelers – overcame a heart-stopping moment when she pulled her foot while starting her penultimate race and fought hard to take third place overall, a result that was not confirmed until the last minute.
Won by Chelmer’s Aaron Freeman from Thomas White of Colchester Rovers, the under-14 boys event saw the return of in-form Bryn Richards of Bourne Wheelers who after some exciting and close racing denied Tom Wright a place on the podium, finishing fourth overall, and seventh place going to the consistently improving Ed Gurney.
As was the case in 2015, no Spalding jerseys were present in the adult events but the club were well represented with two second claim members – the ever classy Tilly Gurney riding for EM Velocita and, in his first grass track appearance for some time, Jake Norton wearing his SRAM team kit for the last time. Sadly the team has now folded so it is likely Norton will be back in the Spalding kit for the new cyclo-cross season.
Gurney’s main aim was the ladies omnium and a series of hard races included a photo finish deciding the outcome of one – a win by a tyre width.
Her efforts for the day put her on the podium in second place behind Welwyn Wheeler Lauren Higham. Third place went to Chelmer’s Sherilyn Powell.
Norton rode well in his races but his lack of miles on the grass against the more experienced riders who are nearing the end of the season began to tell early on.
Rain and a crash involving three riders marred the afternoon’s events and the conditions prevented more racing.