Report: Hope XC Race Series Round 2
Glorious weather saw a dry and dusty course, with temperatures rising it was clear it was going to be a hot day in the saddle for the racers. Despite competition from the World Cup and the British road race championships just up the road there was a strong entry again. A new course with some "off piste" favourites and new surprises saw a few riders going straight over the handlebars comedy falling into a run on the first lap before the pace settled down. Nick Butcher (Yokshire Velo) winner of the previous Leisure Lakes sponsored race was off the pace and retired early after 3 laps with a severe headache but was full of praise for the new "even better than Dalby" course.
Tom Bell (Leeds University Gryphons) a former winner led the men's racer field in a very fast start and took the first lap prime. Unfortunately Tom lost his water bottle on the first lap and wary of the "no outside assistance rule" battled on to an eventual second place. Matt Sumpton (MINI Adventure/ ORBEA) managed to cope with the fast start and after a battle for the lead over the first half of the race pulled away from Tom to win by a clear margin. Simon Rogers (CPH) completed the podium in third place. Dave Powell (Ragley) hoping to climb onto the podium after last race's fourth place had his hopes dashed with a sidewall cut on his tyre on the practice lap. Dave then offered to marshal and didn't go home empty handed getting the Buffera sponsored marshal Buff and winning a Hope bottle opener in the marshals draw.
Matthew Holstead (Marmalades B&B) took the honours in the Blazing Saddles (Hebden Bridge) sponsored Weekend Warrior category riding clear of the field on the first lap and increasing his advantage over second placed Ben Howe (Matrix) who had only a 2 second advantage over Paul Julien (Lifecycles) who finished strongly in third place. Riding for the trail building crew at Stainburn Simon Booth (SingletrAction) loved the off piste sections and the omission of the slab climb from race 1 and battled through the heat with a creditable performance. In the trade team competition Leisure Lakes under Director Sportif Matt Chester were under pressure with a massive entry from Big Bear Bikes challenging their race one dominance and three riders from Wheelbase starting aiming to defend the trophy. With three more rounds to go it's all to play for.
The Bardon Aggregates sponsored Racing Diva's saw Joanna Holden (unsponsored, but she is fast!) in good form winning the women's race. Riding within herself in the heat she allowed Jessica Weston (Astounding Adventures) and Verity Appleyard (MSC Bikes) a former race winner to storm away in a very fast first lap. Jessica proving that she is not only a great bike coach for Astounding Adventures but she can actually compete as well rode a determined race but clearly suffered in the conditions. Joanna a series regular settled into the race and lapped consistently and as the heat started to take its toll had overhauled Jessica and Verity by the start of the last lap. Jessica claimed the first lap prime and second place with Verity getting third place and some of the Hope spot prizes for impressing the marshals. The sponsorship from Bardon Aggregates sees prize parity with the Racers with £200 of Leisure Lakes vouchers up for grabs at each race and the series prize of a pair of Hope Technology wheels and we hope to see a very strong race building through the series.
The Astounding Adventures Have-a-go Heroes category saw a tight race with two riders managing to scrape in 6 laps of the have-a-go easier course by a whisker. Jon Burnham bagged the first prize of a training course provided by the sponsors and a promotion up the categories to Weekend Warrior, Russell Stead (Pudsey Pacers) grabbed second place and Daniel Ingham also let his skills show and got third place again. The rest of the category saw close racing with riders battling hard and all getting to the finish. The Astounding Adventures Have-a-go Heroine category saw three women take to the start line with Steph Pegg in her first race on an old school rigid single speed mountain bike giving the eventual winner Odile Riordan a real race. She too gets an Astounding Adventures "course in a bottle". The Polaris Apparel sponsored "Lads" category for younger riders again ran with a small (due to exams) but quality field with strong competition for the prizes. Harrison Cahill (Leisure Lakes) started strongly but dropped out with a puncture and Luke Goodchild took the win from Sam Pickering. There was a strong entry in the Polaris Apparel Lasses category with Hannah Fergusson (Glentress Riders) winning in a performance that beat the Lads who finished.
Thanks and appreciation go to the marshals and the sign-on/ timing team who gave up their morning lie-in to let others race, additionally to Lancashire CC for use of Lee Quarry and the local residents who tolerate the early morning disruption.
Race 3 is on the 25th July and pre-entry is still open. As usual new course should see some more changes to shake things up and there is the added attraction of trade stands from Leisure Lakes and Astounding Adventures, on-site catering, facilities and plenty of car parking for riders and spectators.