Hope Race Series Round 3, Lee Quarry, 17th May 2009
With June and the start of the British summer proper winching ever closer, it was touch and go whether the charm of the previous rounds would hold for the racers at Lee Quarry.
Under threatening clouds, a slightly depleted field gathered ready to tackle a significantly altered course that replaced the tedious drag of the Tramway with a short, sharp sting of an initial climb and an upper tier finish line that made the most of the windswept outlook for spectators and supporters alike.
With the winner of Rounds 1 and 2 Niall Frost donning a marshall’s vest for the day, the way was clear for some fresh faces at the front of the Racers and Giles Drake (MSC Bikes) was quick to stamp his dominance on the day.
Leading a hard charge away from the start line, he waited until the paceline had wound its way deep into the heart of the quarry’s abandoned workings before making his break and never looked anything less than certain of the win as he laid waste to the chasing pack, leaving another newcomer to the series Eelco Doctor (Macclesfield Wheelers) and Tom Bell (LUCC/Stif) to squabble over the scraps of second and third.
Julie Barrett (Ride On) took her by now customary solo place in the female Racers category. With top prizes on offer for all three women’s categories thanks to sponsors Max Gear and splendid tropies from Hope, it would be nice to see her riding against some competition at Round 4.
Craig Holden (Pendle Forest CC) continued his clean sweep of the Weekend Warriors but was closely tailed by Mark Horsely-Frost (White Nancy Boys), escaping support duties this time around and coming in a scant 15 seconds behind the confident Holden.
John Ellison (MUIVTRacing) rounded out the Weekend Warrior’s podium spots, with Amy Baron-Hall (Horwich CC) once again singlespeeding herself to victory in the lady’s race although finding the course significantly tougher on tired legs than last time.
The Have-a-go Heroes were cheerful as ever, with plenty of manic grins on display as they got stuck into the relentlessly rough ups and downs of the stoney trails.
Craig Scott (Team Matrix) and Warren Horsley-Frost (Wills Wheels RT) took second and third but the top man of the day had to be Ian Hargreaves, who was clearly stoked to score the win in what was only his third mountain bike race after almost as few weeks on the trails.
It’s just the kind of result that makes grassroots race organisers glow with pride and with plenty more success stories like that to be had up at Lee Quarry, it’s not surprising that the guys and girls at Brownbacks are looking forward to Round 4, and the second series, with glee.