Mud, Sweat and Gears Eastern MTB XC Series Round 2
Location: Codham Park, Essex
Event: 21 April 2013
Report: Anna Buick
What a glorious weekend it was: sunshine, shorts and shades made for a fantastic atmosphere with happy racers and spectators alike. The course at Codham has evolved over the years to include tight singletrack, rock gardens, jumps and – as has been eagerly anticipated – a full national standard BMX track. That alone accounts for the blood, sweat and fear…
“The youth of today” is a phrase often associated with negativity; a prevailing attitude of apathy and angst. However, ‘the Youth of Sunday’ set the record straight in no uncertain terms. The winners in both the male and female categories crossed the finish line off their bikes and running. Paddy Atkinson (HMF) and Molly Williams (St Ives CC) both snapped their chains but, determined to acquire series points, continued (for an entire lap for Molly) to the finish where they received a big hand from the crowd and dismissed speculation about Herculean power-output! Behind Atkinson, who is now undoubtedly the series favourite, Benjamin Morris (Welland Valley CC) and Joshua Outram (Thanet RC) took second and third.
In the Juvenile category Jordan Beighton (Chelmsford YCC) seemingly profited from the technical nature of the course as he swapped his third place at Round One for a win at Codham. Zak Coleman (GYCC) was second again and Troy Wingar (Gipping RT) took third. In the female race things were far more settled. Sophie Wright (GYCC) was once again victorious, finishing a full lap ahead of the rest of the field, and Kirsty Morris (Welland Valley CC) and Holly Hoy (Chelmsford YCC) also mirrored their Round One results with second and third respectively.
In the women’s race it was Junior rider Imogen Buick (Newdales Cycles RT) who led away from the start but a puncture slowed her, and eventually necessitated stopping and inflating. Having entered the sandpit section of the course together with Master rider Laura Sampson (Gipping RT) at the end of lap one, the riders exited the section one minute apart. Sampson was able to continue pulling out the gap on Buick and, after four laps, crossed the line to take victory in the Masters race and overall. Buick was second overall and first Junior, whilst behind them the battle for third overall was being fought out by Expert rider Hollie Bettles, Round One Sport category winner Mel Paddington (EHF Racing) and leading Veteran Anita Buxton (Thetford MTB). Paddington pipped Buxton to third and each took victory in their respective categories.
Behind Bettles in the Expert category was Sarah Turner, second spot in the Sport race went to Hannah Attenburrow with Alex Nichol (Team CCN) third, and the Veteran Podium was rounded out by Jackie Field (CCA) and Dona Dale (Newdales Cycles RT). In the Open race it was Victoria Gee who secured the top podium spot, with the ever-smiling Amy Cole (Iceni Velo) in second and Jackie Perry (Team Trisports) third. Averil Milligan (Cambridge CC) took a break from her commissaire duties to win the Grand Veteran race.
Racing alongside the Women’s and Youth categories were The Open male riders. Colin Peck made his move early on and opened up an eighteen second gap on the first lap. Chasing hard behind him was James Martin (Motorhouse Racing CC) whose fast second and third lap times brought him closer to Peck though not close enough to take victory. Martin settled for second and Daniel Barford was third.
Meanwhile, on the unused sections of the BMX track, the Under 12s were honing their skills and subsequently analysing the racers who passed on the course. “Ooh, he got that wrong” was a particular favourite! With the rhythm section of the BMX track nailed and confidence high, it was time for the racing. Although the adapted race course didn’t use the BMX track, the rider’s skills were put to the test on the sharp ups and downs of the sandpit.
As at Tunstall, the crowds came to life, circling the top of the pit and cheering on the action below in an ampitheatre –like atmosphere. Josun Cole (Iceni Velo) was the run away winner in the U12 boys race whilst Sam Trotter (St Ives CC), Colin Mantle (Mildenhall CC), Alex Dale (Newdales Cycles RT), Bradley King (Beeline Bicycles) and Josh Murad (Mildenhall CC) were all in the early mix for second and third. After four laps Trotter took second and Mantle third. There was a battle royale in the U12 girls race with Caitlyn Sampson (Gipping RT) and Sophie Saberton (St Ives CC) glued together for three laps.
It was Saberton who cracked on the final lap leaving Sampson to follow her Mum’s example and take the win. Megan Bettles was third. Fynn Hunter (EHF Racing) took victory in the U9 boys race from Dean Sampson (Gipping RT) and Elliot Gambell (Chelmer CC), whilst the U9 girls race was won by Harriet Wylde (St Ives CC) who rode clear of the yo-yo battle between Zoe Swainston (Colchester Rovers CC) and Anna Leaman. Swainston eventually got the better of Leaman to take second by 12 seconds.
Casting an eye over the grid for the final races of the day there were a few faces that were unfamiliar to MSG but not to National level podiums. Top U23 rider Steven James (Hargroves Cycles) was perhaps the most conspicuous, in both his palmares and his kit! Indeed, it didn’t take long for him to establish himself at the front of the race. However, nor did it take long for Jason Bouttell (Forme Coaching) to find, and stick to, his wheel. For five of the six lap race the two leaders posted exactly the same lap times, each taking turns on the front and maximising their lead over the rest of the field. Whilst the first two spots looking all but confirmed, the race for third was never a safe bet.
Richard Jones (XCracer.com) led the charge and was joined at various points along the way by Andrew Cockburn (AW Cycles) and Scott Clipstone, while James Hyde (Clee Cycles) and Callum Riley (Newdales Cycles RT) were never far off the pace. After a few testing digs between the leading duo it was James who shook off Bouttell to emerge alone from the wood section and go on to take victory by fourteen seconds, Jones claimed third spot over four minutes later.
The Masters race was similarly exciting. Shaun Aldous (Team CCN) took early control but was unable to respond to the attack by Robert Purcell (Neon-Velo.com) when he caught Aldous at the feed station. Purcell pulled out a tidy advantage which stretched to over a minute by the finish. Behind Purcell and Aldous, Glenn Stanford (Team CCN) was comfortable in third. Young Lewis Parker (Gipping RT) proved he has made the transition up from junior ranks with a fine win in the Sport category. Leszek Jezierski (Treads CC) came home in second spot and Shane Ashby took third.
The veteran race was won by another of the national-standard visitors to the MSG series. Lewis King (Beeline Bicycles) took the victory by over four minutes from second placed Dan Howe (Gipping RT). Andy Manning (Team CCN) put in a strong - and very cheerful! - ride to claim third.
The Grand Veterans’ podium positions mirrored Round One, although this time Mick Pilcher’s (Numplumz) victory was somewhat harder fought as he outsprinted team mate Jack Peterson to win by just one second! Ian Robson managed to land some serious air on the BMX track and took third.
With overwhelmingly positive feedback, including Elite winner, Steve James, saying that he was very impressed with the set up at MSG - the ease of signing on and the chance to ride a course comparable with those used at top races on the continent - I think it is safe to say that this series (powered by Cycle Evolution) continues to go from strength to strength.