It's on, it's off. Oh no hang on. It really is on! This weekend saw the first round of the National XC series kick off with Arctic like conditions at the now traditional first round event, Sherwood Pines. Nick Craig, Tom Craig, Stuart Wilcox and Greg Simcock choose the bike over the skis and raced! Thanks to Joolze Dymond for the profile photo.

Nick Craig.  

I’m in Majorca on Joe Beers training camp with some great training in my legs: a VAM test, phosphate sprints and one epic day ahead it’s Friday morning. I take a quick look at BC web site to see the news the NPS is on, great work from Sherwood pines crew to make it happen but the weather forecast is not good. However I’m putting on the factor 30 for the ride to tackle the great climb of Sa Calobra, I’ll take it easy to save my legs for the NPS, HA-HA no chance of that! In fact, I could not resist timing myself, 28 min’s not too bad. 

Next it’s a race back to the hotel. Joe Beer and nirvana know how to live. The great club pollensa for a quick shower and pack for the evening flight to Liverpool, 1 hr delay but then the captain tells us we have a problem and we will have to land in Luton. A long night ahead I finally made it home at 3.30 am. A week away and the Craig family are eager to get to Sherwood but it’s not looking good, the snow is coming down and strong winds are closing many of the cross Pennine roads. We have a few discussions and decide we should get up and away for 5.30 am Sunday morning. On route we picked up Sarah Lomas (Contessa EPIC MTB) she had walked 30 mins through the drifts from her farm as they were unable to get out. If I knew how bad the drifting and road closures were I would not have risked the journey but we made it arriving at 8 am with Tom racing the youth event at 9.30 in his swanky new SCOTT kit and a great SCALE 610. He came round after lap one with a slim lead of 8 seconds closely followed by a small group it came down to a 3 horse race, Tom crashed but still managed a podium finish behind winner Jake Poole.

Stuart Wilcox had a great ride to finish a strong 6th place in the junior’s, a great start after a tough year in 2012. Also Caroline Goward winning the masters and solid riding in the elite women’s from Mel Alexander and Rebecca Preece in 5th and 7th respectively.

In the Elite race I had my usual slow start with the training camp heavy in my legs. However, the unusually heavy conditions helped me, the speed was down and some good old diesel power might be useful. I was riding in 20th when I spotted Oli Beckingsale that helped me as I felt in good company we ploughed on and moved steadily up the field. In the end I managed to come home in 9th place and 5th British rider as the UCI category mean many foreigners looking for easy points.

OK our new demo and events guy Shaun has had a rude start to his new role but gave the SCOTT tents prime spot, I have promised him it’s not normally like this I hope I’m right.

We headed away as soon as we could as the drive home was going to be interesting. Due to epic drifting closing the roads it took 1 hr to do 3 miles with the snow higher than the VW van. Thanks to the snow plough and the three farm digger for getting us home...
Thanks to all of our sponsors and well done to all who race and helped the event go on Nick and the SCOTT team.

Thomas Craig

What a week-end! We finally arrived at 8AM on Sunday morning, after a 5:30 get up and a change of plan due to the large amount of snowfall. However, the day worked out well and the conditions made for some very exciting racing.

9:30 AM was the start time for the youth NPS. Tom Franklin of Hargrove’s cycles had a great start and quickly made a significant gap, with me close behind, in the first few hundred metres. However, I did manage to close him down after a while and rode in the lead for the remainder of that first lap.

I continued in that position for part of lap 2, with my SCOTT bike riding beautifully. However, in the closing stages of the race I slipped into 3rd after a crash, behind winner Jake Pool (Dirtwheels Cycles) and Lewis Champion (Team

So a podium finish for me and an interesting journey home to follow...

Stuart Wilcox

Round 1 of the British XC Series brought the first major race of the year, and with it a decent amount of snow and unusually cold weather. The course was pretty much pan flat, but with a few extremely muddy sections it became pretty tough come race day. After a mid-pack grid position I got the good start I was looking for and settled into the top five for the first two laps. With the course becoming more churned up the tough conditions took their toll and I began to fade towards the end of the race, eventually finishing in 6th place. All in all a solid start to the season, but hopefully there's plenty more to come! 

Greg Simcock

After thinking the race may have been cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions I had to re-think the weekend and we made plans to go to the race on the day and not for the full weekend as previously thought. We dug our way out of the drive and were pleasantly surprised to find slightly less snow in Sherwood Forest than at home. A pre-race lap in the morning showed that the course was going to be mucky by 2:30 but at that time it was all ride-able and not too muddy, though the mud that did hit the bike was freezing on contact!

So away from the start in the race and I was very nearly on the floor after a Speedway moment into the first corner, I got away with that and then continued to be a passenger on the bike for a further 4 laps, fighting through the thick mud to hold a reasonable line, occasionally dragging the bike back out of the undergrowth and fighting to get frozen feet clipped back in to frozen pedals after 2 climbs per lap that had become unrideable in the mud. Wow what a race! The conditions didn't do me too much harm and in a tired daze I finished 13th in the Vets category out of 86 finishers, inside my target for this first race of top 15 so I’m happy with that and I've got time to be race-fit by round 2 in Cornwall in 5 weeks. 


With snow still falling on the morning of the race and freezing conditions we all knew this was going to be very different races for us all and not at all what were expecting or used to so the races could be anyone's......
Our new CONTESSA SCOTT SYNCROS Elite riders were very excited to be finally able to race their new RC Scale's in anger.
Riding off the back of a very successful Andalusia stage race Mel Alexander was obviously in some good form although the snowy conditions were a bit of a shock to the system after the dust trails of Spain.
Mel had a great start after being gridded on the first row and it was definitely a course where you needed a good start and to stay in that position as there were very few places to overtake. Over the next few laps she managed to get into 5th place and stay there turning in some good consistent lap times.

Becky Preece, in her first Elite race having just moved up from Juniors was not so lucky with the gridding to be placed on the 3rd row so she new she had a lot to do to work her way through the field and not get slowed down by riders less able to ride the single track at speed. She did this perfectly with every lap, gradually moving up through the field to get a fantastic 7th place.

Caroline Goward was feeling the pressure a bit as moving up into the Veterans category she was now the youngest in that category and wanted to show age was on her side.

With the laps reduced to 2, this was alien to Cazza, as she had never done such a short race at National level so her game plan was just to go as fast from the start and try and hold it. Loving the muddy and icy conditions, she managed to get a good gap on the first lap but due to lack of fitness started to struggle on the 2nd lap but held her position to win by just 21 seconds.....

The Sherwood Pines course was none of the girls favorite course but  this was a very encouraging start for us all with the bikes performing fantastically.
We all look forward to the next round down in Cornwall next month where we all hope there will be some hills.....
Thanks all our sponsors that have allowed this to happen for 2013!

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