Mud, Sweat & Gears Round 3 – Tunstall Forest

On Sunday 5th June 2011, MSG in partnership with TROG hosted the third round of the Mud, Sweat and Gears mountain bike racing series, and what a fantastic days racing it was.

Anyone who has ever raced knows that you turn up at the event, pedal as fast as you can around a marked out course, try to stay on the bike and then go home with tired legs and a good sense of achievement.  To make this happen there is a lot of work that goes on beforehand.


Tunstall is a public forest managed by the Forestry Commission.  Whilst the FC supports TROG, to run a race we still have to get permission and the race loop approved. 

The TROG chairman, Mike Moore, and club member / MTB stalwart Graham Elliott (G) planned out a prospective course, unduly complicated by the fact that the harvesters were due back in the forest so all the harvesting areas had to be avoided.  The initial plan was to run last year’s course backwards but “you may have a course come race day, or you may not” from Nigel @ the FC re harvesting put paid to that.

Thanks to half term Mike was able to spend somewhere in the region of 20 hours riding the forest over and over again, looking for lines, pits and some elevation. He eventually pulled together the course as it was raced and put it to Nigel to approve. Some nail biting four days later they came back and said Simon (the head of the FC) wasn’t happy about it running through some sensitive bird nesting areas. However he was willing to let it go as ‘they were in use by walkers and riders already’. Thank God, we finally had a course!

Once the loop was approved by the FC, the strimming, raking, digging and general bracken bashing began.  This was no small task as part of the loop and two of the bomb holes were not normally ridden and were under six feet of bracken and nettles.  Over a number of weeks and dedicated weekends, TROG members got stuck in to ensure that the loop and arena area was ready for race day, with a special mention to G for giving up huge swathes of his own time and money to strim almost the entire course.

The day before the race arrived and a number of TROG members turned up to help set up the arena and get the course marked out with the help of Mike & Debbie from Thetford MTB – we started at 11am and finished marking it out at around 7pm.  Another challenge was then thrown in as a local farmer had put a whacking great irrigation pipe across the course and so a ramp was built to get over it – an interesting TTF.

Race Day

7am start, putting signs up so everyone knew where to go, then on arriving on site we were told there was a lady somewhere on the course pulling down tape and poles saying that “We couldn’t close the forest; you’re not allowed to advertise”. Mike headed off on a pre-ride to try and find her but thankfully she seemed to have disappeared and everything else seemed to be running ok. 

To perform car parking and marshalling duties, the Air Cadets came to help and along with some dedicated TROGs did a fantastic job.

The Race!!


Proof that it didn’t rain

The TROG presence in the race was unrivalled, with 21 racers across the different categories – everywhere you looked there was a TROG.

The course held up really well and had a good mix of tough climbs, technical singletrack and fun bomb holes.  It was a bit sandy, but that just adds to the fun, and to the face war paint!

To cheer on the racers, the TROG support team was out in force and could be heard across the forest.

The TROG Support Team

All in all, TROG had 7 racers in the top 10 and 3 podiums.

Mike’s Race Report (11th Place Senior Racer):

I wasn’t sure I was going to be any good during the race because of all the hours I’d put in the day before, so I started reasonably steady and found myself keeping pace with Paul Thomas and Andy Sampson. After crashing in Junk Pit due to letting the wheel drift (which I’m now paying for!), I got back on and decided to push a bit harder. I overtook Paul Thomas and started working my way up through the ranks. A bit of back and forth with a guy from Chelmer Cycles and a rider from Pedal Revolution and towards the end of the race I found I’d shaken them off. I picked off Callum Riley (KTM) towards the end too (hurray!). My thighs started twanging on the 7th time up Token Hill, but I managed to keep going til the end where I found out I’d finished in 11th place. What a result!

Mike coming out of the sandy “Junk Pit”.

Jodie’s Race Report (3rd Place Female Racer)

Lap one and 2 where tough, it took me ages to settle into a rhythm on this race. Although from the outset it seemed like fairly easy terrain, it was, for me anyway, quite a physically demanding course – the two hills, one after the other was the worst, however the long great bit of single track at the end of the circuit more than made up for it!

As ever the support from the side lines was amazing and it was great that a few people ventured out along the course to cheer in the places you’d least expect – just what you need when you’re feeling really tired!

I managed to complete all 6 laps but it felt that I hadn’t performed at my best on this race – so to find out later that I had a podium position was brilliant – and great for the TROG’s as a whole too.

Some much need fluid courtesy of “The Claw”!

The big clear up

Whilst the rest of the racers headed for home, a number of TROGs were left to clear the site and pick up all those lovely sticky gel packs that had been thrown around the course.  Lots of weary faces, but an excellent team effort was put in to get it all done as quickly as possible.

Thanks Role Call

Mike, Lizzie, G, Libtech, Blondie, Horndogrob, Geordie, Human, Kim, JoJo, Jodie, Andrew, Ady, Geordie, Andy, Martha Lampkin, Wingnut, Troy, Ecnarfi, Screwy and Mrs Screwy, JohnE and Mrs E, JohnnyD, Smithy,  Mark A, vumad, Julian, Lewis, Leanlanky, Ecnarfi,  Big Chris, Mark, IanW, Mike & Debbie Mallett and the cadets.

Video of the day – Provided by John E

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