Mayho overcomes adversity to clinch title
Dominique Mayho made a rare appearance in off-road racing to win the men's title at the Winners Edge National Mountain Bike Championships held at Ferry Reach Park at the weekend.
With five championship categories on the line it was clear that the competition was going to be hard fought from the start.
Last year's champion Che'quan Richardson and the 2015 title holder Brian Steinhoff were also on the start line looking to claim the top spot.
But as the anticipation grew, and the race started Mayo's chain snapped after just ten seconds forcing him to stop and watch the rest of the field ride away from him.
Remaining calm he ran back to the start where he was given permission by Anton Gilbert, the Bermuda Bicycle Association official in charge, to make a bike change requiring him to start again ensuring he rode the full course. After getting a borrowed bike, and borrowed shoes because of different pedals on the bike Mayho set off in pursuit almost four minutes behind.
By the end of the first lap Steinhoff had a clear lead and was having a strong ride having broken away from Richardson, and Adam Kirk, who have battled each other all season and who were once again just seconds apart.
But by the time Mayho appeared, it was clear he was at another level having already pulled back well over a minute and at the end of the second lap he had cut the deficit by another minute having moved through the field to fifth place. Clearly aware of what was happening behind him Steinhoff who is regarded as one of the most technical off-road riders, continued to drive the pace, but by the end of the third and fourth laps the writing was on the wall as Mayho powered forward and by midway through the fifth lap had wrestled the lead and then opened a gap which held to the finish with Mayho clocking 1hr 17min with Steinhoff taking second, 25 seconds later.
Rounding out the top three was Richardson who after Kirk had been forced out with a broken wheel was timed at 1:18:57.
Setting the scene for the day, the first category to be contested was the Open Junior event which was set to be a battle for first between off-road specialist Robin Horsfield and Matthew Oliveira. With Horsefield known as a highly technical rider and Oliveira a powerhouse on the more open terrain, the scene was set for the two to dominate the race, with another top junior rider Kaden Hopkins, barring any crashes or mechanical problems, expected to take the third podium spot.
Part way through the first lap and on a steep downhill section it appeared Oliveira was unable to negotiate a tight right-hand turn and was forced to ride through the yellow course tape.
He quickly got back on course but found himself in a chasing role as Horsfield looked focused and in control.
For the first three laps, it was a tight race with Oliveira keeping the lead in sight but then Horsfield appearing to grow in confidence steadily opened a gap of almost a minute to the finish being timed at 57:48 with Oliveira at 58:45 and Hopkins coming in third at 1:02:20.
Having started shortly after the juniors the Open Women category riders would see Sarah Bonnett blast off the front of the field determined to send a message to the other riders that she meant business, with Laurie Orchard giving chase and Zina Jones trying to keep pace.
There was some confusion when the riders reached the turn in the course where Oliveira had gone through the tape causing the officials to rush to the location to correct the problem.
Despite this Bonnett proved to be too strong and came home uncontested to finish in 47:12, Orchard finished second, and claimed the national title as the first Bermudian in 53:09 with Jones third in 55:33. In the Junior Female category Alyssa Rowse was the sole participant.
The final category, the Masters Male had the biggest entry of the day in what was expected to be a hotly contested competition. After the first lap Hans Hirschi led the field with Gary Raynor and Mark Hatherley wheel to wheel with the early leader.
However, when the riders came into sight at the end of lap two Raynor appeared to have stamped his authority on the race and had opened up a gap that he continued to expand on. In a controlled workmanlike effort he completed the five-lap event in 1:05:55 with Hatherely second in 1:08:54 and the early leader Hirschi taking the third spot on the podium finishing in 1:10:25. There were four non-championship junior races that were won by Blake Oliveira, Odin Heinz, Christina Herzog and Enshe-Nico Davis.