Glenroy Martin at PORC
PORC: 2013 Downhill Race Series, Round 4
Summer is finally here, right? Well it was all guns blazing at Penshurst Off Road Cycling on Sunday despite the threat of rain and thunderstorms for the first weekend of summer in the UK. The great British weather sure knows how to keep race organisers on edge but I think by now, South African-born Mike Joseph - the man behind the new race series at PORC - is getting pretty used to the weather being so unpredictable, yet predictably bad.
PORC Round 4 The beautiful Kent countryside played host to the ever popular grassroots downhill race series at PORC. Local racing talent amassed for Round 4 on the flower-covered, lush grassy slopes of Penshurst Off-Road Club, just a few miles from the high-street shopping and tea-drinking Mecca that is Royal Tunbridge Wells. By 9am, PORC was replete with cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes and with so many bikes galore that you could have been mistaken for thinking you were in downtown Whistler, had it not been for the odd BTR Fabrications Ripper or Belter around. In fact, the BTR race team was out en masse to support PORC and the race series. The few brave souls who decided to pretend that it was really summer, soon awoke from their slumber in their dew covered tents. A cooked breakfast via the in-park cafe was on offer to those who wanted to get as many carbs in as possible before racing commenced. Manned by Fern Joseph and Sheila Bennett, registration at PORC ran like clockwork. PORC, like some other local events, is now supplemented by an online registration system - these grassroots race organisers implement F1-style organisation these days! For each entrant, there was extra icing on the registration cake in the form of a goodie-bag thanks to Juice Lubes and High5 Sports Nutrition.
PORC Round 4 With the race commencing at 11.30, riders had a chance to test their courage on the new race line, which reverted to the traditional technical-orientated track that regulars at PORC are more accustomed to, as opposed to the super-fast freeride line from Round 3. The tech track kept on-site mechanic, Jors, from Whisper Bikes, a busy guy, but he managed to get his punters going in no time at all. It was though it was a rolling pit stop (okay, I'll take it easy on the F1 analogies from now on...). With the course starting from the regular ramp, the riders had a familiar bunch of stunts in front of them to get set up for the tech sections. With a table, then double and then step-up, riders then had to take a slight left-hand bend and onto a row of half-sunken logs that put both the riders and their suspension through its paces. Within a fraction of a second, riders were forced down a steep and tight switchback. This feature caught a number of riders out and was the hot-spot for spectators to watch riders try as they might to defy the combined pull of gravity and motion. Once beyond the switchback, riders were able to pick up speed with a couple of crank turns, before a big ladder drop. With a berm in the landing zone, riders had a few moments to decide how zesty they were feeling, with some obviously feeling it more than others! Some riders looked super cool here with their precision riding, whilst others pushed physics a little too much, which resulted in some unintended consequences! Another styling opportunity was the blind left hip following the berm.
PORC Round 4 Prayers to the god of dual-ply compounds were in a lot of riders' minds as it was a close call on whether their tyres would float through the rock garden or suffer dreaded pinch flats. Out of the rock garden, riders were faced with a small road gap which should have been easy but for some it was one of 'those' moments. If riders were lucky enough to get that far without mishap, they were over another big ladder drop and into some long enduro-style turns. It was a good spectator spot, as riders were huffing and puffing by this point, trying to get as much oxygen into their lungs, ready for the final sprint to the finish...give or take another road gap or two. In the cool shade of the wooded section, riders were greeted by the familiar 'beep beep' of the Mikrotime device, and had a chance to chat with fellow out-of-breath riders about their race run, whilst they spotted their positioning on the timing screen.
PORC Round 4 All in all it was a good day's racing, with Aston Hill dominating many of the podiums along with BTR Fabrications Team and Team Bull Track. It's pretty evident that grassroots racing in the South East of England is becoming a prime location for up-and-coming riders, with numbers swelling in the women, juvenile men and young ripper categories, along with the talent. The future's bright for kids and it's all down to grassroots races like the ones at PORC.
1st Glenroy Martin (Senior Men) 0:43.99, 2nd Brandon Love (Senior Men) 0:44.83, 3rd Simon Parsons (Senior Men) 0:44.90
Senior Men
1st Glenroy Martin 0:43.99, 2nd Brandon Love 0:44.83, 3rd Simon Parsons 0:44.90
Master Men
1st Tomas Kupstys 0:46.93, 2nd Jay Shaw 0:47.64, 3rd Oliver Medcalf 0:47.74
Veteran Men
1st Guy Theron 0:49.53, 2nd Joe Killner 0:49.58, 3rd Paul Bennett 0:50.08
1st Suzanne Lacey 0:53.24, 2nd Lucy Dress 0:53.35, 3rd Katie Love 0:55.61
Junior Men
1st Jack Klimowicz 0:46.96, 2nd Macaulay Friend 0:47.19, 3rd Finn Tennant 0:47.50
Youth Men
1st Oli Evans 0:46.13, 2nd Tom Scrace 0:47.92, 3rd Chris Klaichan 0:51.47
Juvenile Men
1st Oli Crosdil 0:50.48, 2nd Jordan Beighton 0:50.88, 3rd Alfie Killner 0:50.96
Young Ripper
1st Lucas Mead 1:16.58, 2nd Nathan Ross 1:20.27, 3rd Jett Joseph 1:35.54
1st Paul Burford 0:47.86, 2nd Jed Stanton 0:49.20, 3rd Shaun Wren 0:52.89
Full race times can be found on Mikrotime's website.

Thanks to the riders, spectators, medics, marshals and all sponsors for their unfailing support and making our grass roots racing such a huge success: Downhill Freeriders, Juice Lubes, Whisper Bikes, Moose Cycles, Hope, Mucky Nutz, High 5 Sports Nutrition, Monster Energy, Madison UK, Wizard Wash Products, ii10photo, geebeebee media, Drift Cycles and BTR Fabrications.

Words & Photos
geebeebee media