Ashbys light up night race

Fergus Muir The Marin Dusk-til-Dawn night mountain bike race is always an epic, but never more so than the 2008 edition where increasing rain and mud raised the stakes for the 870 competitors.

Fergus Muir

The Marin Dusk-til-Dawn night mountain bike race is always an epic, but never more so than the 2008 edition where increasing rain and mud raised the stakes for the 870 competitors.

The rain was intermittent at first, but soon after dawn it set in heavy and continuous. Lap times on the 12-mile course in Thetford Forest became dramatically extended. With an hour to go, the four-man Whyte Racing team had covered over 130 off-road miles and were 10 minutes clear of all-comers.

However the Norfolk family team of three - Paul Ashby and sons Shane and James - riding for Fat Birds CC, came within an ace of unseating their rivals. Paul carried the glo-stick baton for the last lap and pulled back 8 minutes 32 seconds on Whyte Racing to close the final gap to 1:26.

These two teams were the only ones to complete 12 laps. Nearest challengers to Whyte Racing in the four-man teams were Wymondham-based Salsa Factory Racing (Phil Buick, James Dalton, Mike Jones and George Budd) who covered 11 laps in 12:04:33. Salsa had the winning female quartet - Sara Flatt, Anna Buick, Faith Addison and Ruth Owen-Evans (nine laps in 12:20:18). High among the three-rider teams were fourth placed Still Norfolk & Good, 10 in 11:36:16; and Thetford MTB, eighth with 10 in 12:55:06. Among the Male Pairs, Team Streetlife's Andy Manning and Kevin Shaw covered 10 in 13:6:41 for eighth place among 83 teams.

In total, 170 riders set out to race the whole night solo - Adi Scott from Whittlesey covered 10 laps in 12:57:35 and winner Matthew Page (Wiggle) put in an astonishing 11 laps in 13:1:51. Did he fall off?: “Oh - 20 or 30 times,” he said. Not everyone pushed it so hard - some stayed upright throughout. But the tracks became so treacherous that slower riders in particular were soon expending nearly as much energy keeping straight as driving their bikes forward through the slime.

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The full result can be seen at

t The Velo Club Norwich mastered grim conditions to make a success of their 55-mile road race on the Wymondham-Barford-Wicklewood circuit. Torrential rain washed debris across the course and a cold wind made marshalling, let alone riding, a test of stamina.

But the club members took four places in the top 12, including second place which went to ex-rugby player Neil Vaughan from Eaton.

It was a race of attrition with a steady whittling down of the survivors. Vaughan bided his time on the long climb to the finish and as others faded he overhauled all but winner John McVey (St Ives CC). VCN also had orienteering expert Tim Lenton in seventh place, Tim Skinner in 11th and veteran rower Graham Brown in 12th, while API rider Mark Farrow from Norwich was 10th.

t Any cyclist is welcome to turn up and have a go at a hill climb in Stoke Holy Cross on Sunday.

Bring your bike to the village hall on the Norwich to Hempnall road comfortably before the 11am start and see how you fare compared to established club riders. Recovery with tea and cakes afterwards. Geoff Mayne of the Godric CC can tell you more - telephone 01986 893653.

t Among riders in the Suffolk Coastal Byways Audax were CC Breckland riders Mark Fairhead and Don Saunders and - riding their own machines - Saunders' grandchildren Emily Davis (13) and Declan Davis (10). Conditions were cold with a strong headwind over the last miles. The Saunders party completed the 63 miles with just one minute to spare before the time limit for an Audax Brevet Card expired.

t The Norwich Amateur Bicycle Club's 10-mile time trial was won by West Suffolk Wheeler Peter Balls in 21:17, with Lee Bark (Stowmarket & District) only one second slower.

Conditions were blustery, with a tough outward leg from Bungay to Redenhall. Nicki Hawkes of VC Baracchi took the women's prize with 27:41, while tricyclist Eric Marsh was best veteran on standard with a “plus” of 9:35. Luke Newby of Diss & District CC was fourth in the Junior race at the National Trophy Cyclo-Cross near Exeter.