Report: Midlands XC Championships

Report: Midlands XC Championships

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Report: Powerbar Midlands XC Championships

Dave Collins takes title at Hanchurch

Posted June 16 2009
Words: Joolze Dymond Photography: Luke Webber and Joolze Dymond

The weekend saw thousands of riders take advantage of yet more glorious sunshine as throughout the UK XC events were simultaneously run. Those in the know headed for the private estate of Hanchurch Woods to take part in the second round of the ever-popular Midlands XC Series and this time the racing was not just for points but the honour of collecting the Midlands Champs title!

Hanchurch Woods is near the playground of Martyn Brookes and with his expertise and the permission of the Estate owner Lord Stafford, put together a memorable course that had tongues wagging right from the start with tales of epic drops, wicked twists and turns, knee creaking climbs and more singletrack than than you could ever wish for all crammed in to a compact and bijou 7km course. In keeping with the ‘old skool' feel of the course with it's loose, dry dusty trails, bermtastic, sweeping corners and skill testing technical section, the organisers liberally sprinkled the course with reminders of the ‘good ole days' stapled inspirationally to the trees!

Once again the two blocks of racing were sold out well in advance, as riders know they will be experiencing some brilliant trails superbly organised, meaning well over 300 riders both young and old lined up at various times of the day to see if they could take the accolade of Midlands Champion.

First to experience the fast, flowing course were all the women's categories, plus Juniors, Open, Juvenile, Youth, Fun and all the Veteran categories. The fire road start was quickly replaced by a long draggy climb that took the riders to the outer reaches of the woods, before zig zagging them down and around, encountering more ups, downs, thrills and spills along the way than the Big Dipper at Blackpool's Pleasure Beach!

Annie Last looked calm and composed as she took each section in her stride, leading the elite women's race for the first 2 laps whilst Jenn O'Connor kept her firmly in her sights, watching and waiting for her moment. Last, who was recovering from a recent chest infection decided by lap four that she'd done enough and didn't want to push on, leaving O'Connor to slip ahead to take the win after two more laps, with team mate Annabel Simpson taking second.

Jenn O'Connor - Elite women's winner, ineligable for the Midlands title

Strangely there would be no Elite women's champion as O'Connor is from New Zealand, Simpson is registered under the Northern territory and the only eligible rider - Annie Last - did not finish!

In the Expert women's race Maxine Filby continues to take the sport by storm. Having left her previous sport of horse eventing behind she took the win, but only after being pushed all the way by a feisty Rachel Fenton, who limited the damage to 37secs, and took the honour of highest placed Midlands woman.


Maxine Filby on her way to the Expert win                     Martyn Brookes; built it and they came

Junior racer Danielle Rider amused herself in her lonely race by trying to take out the photographer along the way! Luckily neither of us were hurt in the process and Danielle nailed that tricky section perfectly each time as soon as I moved away to take the win and the championship with it too. Sarah Lomas took the honours in the Juvenile race, leaving Paige Coope to pick up the championship as a consolation prize.

In the Fun class Michelle Paget took the win completing her two laps while runner up Donna Edwards was happy to complete a lap of the challenging course stating it hadn't put her off; in fact she'll be back for more at round three!

In the Veterans race Belinda Tarling, obviously enjoying her racing once more, relished all that Hanchurch could throw at her recording three consistent laps to take the win, while Verity Appleyard took the honours in the Masters.

The women may have made up a small percentage of the overall day's racing but their racing was as fierce as the men around them, with plenty of beaming faces at the end of the day proving that mountain bike racing can is fun, you just go with the flow and challenge yourself!

The track was dry and dusty. This was the midlands though, not the Cape Epic. Really.

In the men's races, there was a blur of orange as two young monkeys, Ben Roff and Nat ‘Pinkie' Jarvis tried hard to dominate the Junior race, hoping to take the first two steps on the podium. However despite being a ‘monkey' Jarvis had an encounter with a tree that he came out of worse, leaving team mate Roff running for home alone over the remaining three laps. He took the win, but it was Aron Marshall fighting his corner who took the championship title to round off his day.

Matt Godden had a real battle on his hands in the Juvenile race but managed to keep off rival Jake Poole to take the win, Poole was rewarded with the Championship. In the Youth race it was Matt Sumpton who claimed the double whammy taking a hard fought win from Alex Baker and claiming the championship win along with it.

Super Veteran Victor Barnett continues to speed away leaving his rivals in his wake in the race racking up yet another win adding another Championship trophy to his immense collection of racing honours.

With Roy Hunt and Ian Wright in the mix you knew the Grand Veteterans was going to be another hum dinger of a race as these two archrivals consistently clash bars in events all over the UK. Today was Hunt's day, with Wright only keeping his rival in view for the first lap. Over the next three Hunt extended his lead romping to a healthy win, while Wright fought his corner in second going home with the Midlands championships title.

The Veterans race was yet another close fought battle with Michael Powell following closely on the wheel of Geoff Giddings. There wasn't much to choose between these two and it was anyone's guess who would take the win. However that fickle hand of fate played its part, with Giddings succumbing to a puncture on the last lap leaving the way clear for Powell to take the win and with it his third consecutive Champs title, small consolation for his disappointment at the recent National Marathon Championships.

It was the battles of the Simon's in the Open race as Gough and Choppin, fought for the win; in the end it was Gough who just managed to hold off a fast finishing Choppin.

Midday saw some of the most enthusiastic racing get under way as a huge field of under 12's tackled their own version of the hugely enjoyable Hanchurch course. Then with presentations for the mornings racing tackled it was soon the turn for the big boys to have their go.

Dave Collins with his eye on the Championship. Spectator with her eye on summer.

The afternoons racing saw more of the fickle hand of fate in action as scores of riders streamed past minus, chains, rear mechs or suffering from the dreaded puncture! Elite rider Lee Williams found his race reduced to a run as he snapped his chain on the first lap, he then spent the next five laps fighting his way back to eighth spot recording the fastest lap of the day along the way. Meanwhile up ahead SIS rider Dave Collins was dictating proceedings with Rob Friel on his tail they quickly exited the elite pack leaving the field disintegrating behind them. Things were looking cosy for the two until Friel snapped his chain too, leaving Collins free and easy up front romping on to take the win, with Oli Cox snapping up second, just ahead of Andrew Cockburn.


The frantic start of the Expert men's race                      And clear winner Jon Pybus

After a fast start Jonathon Pybus made short work of his five laps in the Expert race to take the win with a good margin, unlike Matt Barrett in the Masters race who had a much harder battle on his hands. Over his five laps, with both Phil Morris and Glen Stanford breathing heavily down his neck Barrett rode strongly to fend off Morris, coming home for the win and the championship title with just 26 seconds to spare. Morris narrowly defeated Stanford by a mere 12 seconds, to claim second.

Only David Thomas could stop a near Mammoth Lifestyle whitewash in the Sport race as he took the win ahead of Darrell Upton and Neil Hayward, however he couldn't stop the Mammoth onslaught in the championships as both riders swapped second and third for the one-two.

Many thanks to everyone who came and saw and raced! Special thanks to the Grimey Limeys who once more volunteered as marshals ensuring a safe race for everyone and for those that had a few tree/ground interfaces made sure that help was close at hand!

So popular is the Midlands XC you don't only have to pre-enter, but form an orderly queue

Organisers Nadine and James were overwhelmed by the response yet again they received for sorting out the series, as they told me the Midlands was born out of a desire to deliver courses and events that they themselves would love to ride... unfortunately they are so busy organising them that they never get to ride them! Get your entries in now if you want to have a bit of Midlands fun, because round three at Cannock Chase is just round the corner and entries are filling up fast!

Chris Andrews - most definately from the midlands.