Report: Southern XC Round 3
Pippingford Estate hosts round three
The Southern XC series reaches its halfway point in East Sussex on a brand new course with massive climbs, descents and over 300 riders.
Riding huge man-made berms, through streams, around lakes, through woods on big hills. That has to mean riding in Wales or Scotland right? Well that's what you could have been forgiven for thinking riding around the woods of Pippingford Estate, venue for round three of the Southern XC series last weekend.
A completely new venue to the world of mountain biking located just outside the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, Pippingford surprised a few riders who were expecting another days riding around a flat pine wood. The course left the arena, located at the top of the hill next to the large stately home before dropping on to a descent of well over a mile, which included berms, jumps, drops and some insanely fast straight sections. Yelps could be heard from the woods as riders relished the awesome descent. Later in the lap riders found themselves snaking around fishing lakes and past waterfalls. Then the real challenge started, all that descending meant only one thing; a whole lot of climbing in the form of two sharp, steep climbs and then a long gradual climb that took riders back to the arena. Possibly the most fun, most challenging 4.2 miles of XC racing yet this year!
Despite the awful weather the day before and people's apparent trepidation of new venues over 300 riders were taking part. The first categories round the course - Youth, Juvenile and Under-12's were greeted by a damp lap, however that didn't stop Hugo Humphreys putting in an impressive two laps in 48 minutes to win the Youth category. Hugo's lap time remained the fastest of the day well in to the afternoon. Harry Franklin and Gretel Warner took wins in the Juvenile races.
In the Open category it was Dave Ragan, riding for 1st Gear Cycles who took the win and the Dirtworker portable bike washer for his efforts. Tim Kemp and Anja Brickell also took wins in the Open and Fun categories.
Moving in to the afternoon, the hotly contested Junior and Veteran categories set off. In the juniors Steve James showed his continued strong form, taking the win from Nat Jarvis by over 6 minutes. A very strong finish from Max Filleul saw him place a solid third. Nicky Hughes and Mark Chadbourne took the Veterean wins. Ray Crosthwaite and Debbie Burton took the wins in the Grand Vets.
Later in the afternoon the Sport, Expert, Masters and Elite categories set off. Typically the most exciting racing came from the masters, where Paul Hopkins (Off Camber) pipped Scott Forbes (Pedalon.co.uk) on the line, before both collapsed in to an exhausted heap in the arena. Adrian Lansley continued his domination of the series, taking the win from team-mate Chris Minter in the Elite category. Spectators witnessed a rising star in the form of Luke Gray taking an impressive third in Elite despite being a first year Junior. The Sport race was once again dominated by Martin Delves who stomped round the course in his super-aggressive yet smooth style. In the Expert category Mateusz Weilgos and Maxine Filby took the wins. A lone but impressive ride from Gemma Collins (Activ/Titus) saw a win in the Female Elite race.
The Southern XC Series, re-launched last year is proving increasingly popular with riders. The Organisers, SMBC are seeing new and returning riders taking part. The next round of the series is on the 12th July at Erlestoke, near Devizes, Wiltshire. Full event info and on-line entry can be found at www.pedalon.co.uk, just click on the Southern XC link in the top right. Later rounds are on the 2nd August, near Alton, Hampshire and 6th September, back at Pippingford.
Please remember to keep this excellent venue, SMBC have asked people to stay off the Pippingford Estate other than on race days. It's a private estate, so any trespassers will put racing there in future in jeopardy. However the Army who train there would probably quite enjoy more moving target practice!