by Ben Haworth
June 2, 2009
Hope Race Series, Round 4
Lee Quarry, nr. Bacup
31st May 2009
An extended course gave riders several chances to attack the final singletrack of the red loop as well as the quarry’s heights, but to widespread dismay this also meant the full horror of the Tramway climb had to be endured on each and every lap. Still, with the scorching sunshine offset by a fresh breeze, the field managed to keep their cool and lap times in the Racer category were still well under twenty minutes despite the longer course length, making good entertainment for the crowd of spectators out to enjoy the day.
Whilst series standings were up for grabs elsewhere, the dominant Racer Niall Frost (Milton Keynes) made it three in a row, having sat out Round 3 to take his turn in the marshal’s vest. He walked away with the coveted overall prize of a Pro 3 wheelset from series sponsors, Hope. Behind him, Tom Bell (LUCC/Stif) and Patrick Goodwin played a spirited game of cat and mouse until the tiring Bell slipped to third leaving Goodwin to take second, a finish that was transposed to round out the series podium.
With lady Racer Julie Betts away tackling a round of the national series at Margam Park and Amy Barron-Hall sidelined due to illness, it was left to the Weekend Warriors to uphold female honours and the duo of Julia Shrubb and Jacqui Simcock (Team Simmy) did so in style, cheerfully tackling four laps apiece to take first and second respectively.
On the men’s side, Craig Holden (Pendle Forest CC) made it a clean sweep, taking home his fourth first place trophy and a pair of Hope’s finest stoppers for his trouble. Mark Horsely-Frost (White Nancy Boys) steamed through the singletrack like a man possessed but couldn’t summon up the juice to catch Holden on the climbs; he took second in this round ahead of Danny Drake (Munt Racing) and also in the series ahead of Andy Westwell (Blazing Saddles), who finished back in seventh place on the day. Paul Kelsall made easy work of the course’s challenging climbs to be first singlespeeder home, winning the usual quirky medallion from category sponsor Charlie the Bikemonger.
First-time racer Odile Riordan thoroughly enjoyed her outing in the Have A Go Heroes field and was pleased to score a win on her first attempt at XC racing. With the men’s category closely contended, all eyes were on the front runners to see who would win out; in the end the trio of Robert Ormrod, Peter Branson and Mike Hemingway (Psyclosport Harrogate) were first over the line but couldn’t trouble the overall points table. Craig Scott (Team Matrix) took the series win, with a Hope Vision light to see him through the winter to come, whilst Ian Hargreaves and Chris Makin rounded out the podium of a very successful category that’s making XC racing accessible to total beginners once more.
The Hope Race Series has made great inroads into returning the glory days of grassroots racing to the north-west. With the Singletrack Classic Weekender (www.singletrackworld.com) offering the ultimate challenge for true all-rounders in July and a second XC race series from organisers Brownbacks on the horizon too (see www.brownbacksracing.co.uk for dates) you’d be mad to miss out, so get yourself along to Lee Quarry, check out the trails on offer and get yourself an entry to one of the upcoming events, too.