The mountain bike clubs at both Southampton and Portsmouth deciding to join in with the annual Varsity event between the 2 universities for the first time last year. A downhill and cross country race were meant to be held however only the downhill materialised due to a lack of riders/organisation on the Pompey XC side of things. Portsmouth won the downhill last year and us the cross country by default due to the Portsmouth no show producing an overall draw.
A year later and it was time to have the second ever Varsity mountain bike races. This year Portsmouth had some cross country riders who were vaguely capable of organisation so both a downhill and cross country race were held.
The downhill race took place on Wednesday 23rd February at a rainy and foggy Rogate. Each rider was given 2 timed runs on the track with your fastest time to count in the results. The track we chose for the race was a really good mix of steep, technical and loose at the top with the bottom section being fast and bermed with some drops and jumps thrown in to the mix.
Time varied from 35secs to 1min 12secs after first runs with the top 5 as follows; Matt Shields (P), Lewis Pendle (P), Callum Corbin (S), Bill Bye (S), Ant Hackett (S). Two notable absences from the top end of the results sheet after first runs were Jonny Howe (P) and myself (Pete Irwin(S)) who had both had crashes and would be looking to make an impact come our second run.
For second runs we seeded riders based on first run times which made for exciting racing with the times decreasing with every rider coming down the hill. Jonny Howe crashed again on his second run ending his chances of gaining some extra points for Portsmouth. I managed to put a good run together on my second run which put me in to the lead however the fastest riders from first runs were still to come. Most riders chopped some time off their fist run times second time down which provided a few position changes. One notable position improvement came from Bill Bye who pulled off the most sketchy, out of control looking and pedalling filled run I've ever seen to jump from 4th to 3rd spot overtaking Callum Corbin. My time stood until the last man down the hill, Matt Shields, put in a blazing run to take back the lead which he had after first runs.
Riders scored points for their university based on position and these points were added up to determine the winning university. The results were as follows:
Larger results: here
So Southampton won the downhill! Woohoo!
The cross country race took place on Sunday 27th February in our beloved Lordswood. The pre-decided course was marked out that morning using sticks and due to the amount of rain that had fell in the past week the course was looking wet.
5 Portsmouth riders turned up for the race and we showed them around the course to make sure they knew where they were going before the race began. The format was that we would race around the course for 1 hour after which you would finish the next time you crossed the finish line.
Marshalls were distributed around the course and the race kicked off at about 1pm. Riders sprinted up the first fireroad climb to try and get ahead before diving into the first section of singletrack on course. Callum Corbin put his singlespeed munching legs in to action to win this small battle and led in to the first singletrack. However I think he was forgetting that there was another hour to go...
Lap times ranged from 12min 26 secs for the fastest lap of the day to 24min 43secs for the slowest. As the hour progressed the course gradually got torn up and became muddier making the course more difficult to navigate in later laps.
After the hour had passed riders were finished after completing 3, 4 or 5 laps depending on pace. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the course which was nice to see.
The same points scoring system as was used for the downhill results was employed and then the cross country points were added to the downhill points to give an overall varsity mountain biking score. Cross country results and the overall points are as below:
Well I think it's fair to say that we absolutely destroyed Portsmouth in the cross country! Perhaps it will motivate them to train some more for next time.
But more importantly, WE WON VARSITY OVERALL!!!!!
Portsmouth: 112 points Southampton: 150 points
Thanks to all the Southampton riders for both cross country and downhill for putting in an awesome effort and getting some awesome results. Also a massive thanks to all who marshalled at the cross country race. And thank you to Portsmouth for providing the timing equipment for the downhill and for giving us some good competition.