Nearly 450 competitors, plus masses of spectators, braved the cold and ventured over to Tunnel Hill in Surrey for the Gorrick Autumn Classic.
The sun gently warmed the five-mile course throughout the day as 22 categories poured across the start line and some close-fought battles ensued.
The men’s elite race was a real ding-dong battle, with Gary Record taking on Jon Pybus. It was seat-of-the-pants action as each athlete pushed the other hard over the undulating terrain, with just a handful of seconds separating them on each lap.
Pybus continued to make advances but Record, who was fast running out of energy after not eating enough, hung grimly onto to his lead, crossing the line just 28 seconds ahead.
In the Masters, Ollie Taylor got squeezed pretty tightly by Rob Purcell but managed to take the win just 32 seconds clear. In the Super Masters race, national masters champion Scott Forbes took no prisoners as he belted his way along the trails and past back markers to take victory over regular rival Mark Hutt.
Scott Thorbes took victors in the Super Masters race, beating regular rival Mark Hutt
The Open and Fun races attracted nearly 100 riders apiece. Martin Turton, who earlier in the morning had won the Youth race, enjoyed himself so much he decided to ride the two-lap Fun race and won that too.
In the Open race it was a close affair over three laps, with Lloyd Curling claiming the win just 13 seconds ahead of Russell Jones. The Super Vets had a close run race too, with Rick Fetherston gradually pulling ahead over the last two laps to grab victory from Steve Jones’s grasp by just 15 seconds.
Some 450 competitors braved chilly conditions for some fast-paced racing
There was a reasonable turnout for the women’s events, where Emma Smith took an easy win in the Expert race ahead of her attack on La Ruta de Los Conquistadores in a few weeks’ time.
Anna Hibberd took control of the Fun race with a 32-minute lap, and there was a close battle in the Open race, with Cathy Thomas fending off Kathy Beresford to take the win.
The Autumn Classic returns to its spiritual home, Crowthorne, on 8 November. Expect lots of fun singletrack. For more details, see www.gorrick.com.
Emma Smith took an easy win in the Expert Women category