Tom Bell takes the win at the 2011 RRP Midlands Series Finale, setting the fastest lap of the day in the process.
It was only fitting that the last race by the current organising team harked back to their early races at Cannock Chase: a small, competitive field of riders (including some who stayed to do more riding, such was the fun factor of the trails), a friendly atmosphere, a beautiful sunny day, a course filled with tough climbs and descents all at a fondly remembered venue that had fallen by the wayside.
Eastridge Woods was the location, tucked away in a quiet corner of Shropshire and with many categories undecided, racing went down to the wire. For some, 100 miles of racing at the weekend wasn't enough: full credit to Giles Drake (Team Elite), Stephen James (AWcycles.co.uk) and Anthony Morris (Evans RT) for making the trip down from Kielder Forest to compete!
In the morning race, it was the ladies who relish technical terrain on the top step, Verity Appleyard (team appleyard) in Masters, Ruth Owen Evans (Cotic AQR Holidays RT) in Expert, and Michelle Paget (The Bikeyard RLS4X) in Sport. Joanne Clay recorded the fastest women's lap time. The winner of the Juvenille women's series was between sisters Ria and Jade Mobbs (Welland Valley CC) with Ria reversing the form book to take the spoils. Phil Blacker's (Team Jewson/MI Racing) blazing first lap was just enough to hold off a hard charging Lloyd Bettles (Clee Cycles/KCNC) in the Veteran race, with Ian Wright (Raleigh RT) keeping his 100% record, making it 4 from 4 in the Grand Vets.
Jason Bouttell (Revel Outdoors) was the only other rider this year to keep a clean sheet, winning the Sport race ahead of Chris Howell (Audlem CC) and Chris Bailey (Inverse Cyclaim RT). The RapidRacerProducts team were again out in force in the afternoon race, but there were no podiums this time with Matt Greensill getting closest with 6th place in Masters. Battling at the front it was a re-match of the National Champs, with Matt Dennis (Swinnerton Cycles) able to counter Ed Moseley's (Worcester Cycle Centre) speed on the downhill for the win.
Richard Jones (Numplumz/Pitsford Cycles) stepped up to break Lee Westwood's (Raleigh RT) dominance of the Expert category with a fine win. Ben Price (Torq Performance) used his local knowledge to open up a 30 second gap on the first lap, but a mid race dip saw him slip to 4th behind James Williams (mtb-marathon.co.uk). For the Elite's, 6 laps were in store and no-one was able to match Tom Bell's pace. Stephen James (AWcycles.co.uk) made the climb look easy on his 1x10 set-up to take 2nd, with Ben Roff (Orange Monkey/Cannondale) completing the top 3.
Midlands XC would like to say a big thankyou to everyone who helped and supported at round 4. In particular, RapidRacerProducts, the Grimey Lymies, Nadine, Andy, Alex, George, Keith, BETD Goldtec, Blazing Bikes, Knog for the Go-Race spot prizes, and the guys at Torq (in particular Ben for his help with the course set-up).
British Cycling would like to thank the organising team, officials and everyone else who helped promote this event. Our sport could not exist without the hundreds of people, many of them unpaid volunteers, who put in many hours of hard work running events, activities and clubs.