Words & pics Joolze Dymond
Despite grey, moody looking skies that supplied a drop or two of rain that promised a respite to the intense heat, hundreds of riders quite literally flooded to the venue in Bordon to get their XC fix for the 4th round of the ever popular Southern XC, run in conjunction with local club West Drayton MBC.
Bordon offered a bijou and compact fun filled course, full of intriguing features that criss crossed the event arena, giving spectators plenty of glimpses of the action the riders battled on. A 5 mile course complete with dry dusty loose trails that tested bike handling at every opportunity, as it swooped, climbed and drifted, taking in such features as the fast rolling, bermed ditches, a sandy drop off that dumped you at the foot of a firing range, plus plenty of rooty, sand covered climbs all linked together with sweet ribbons of fast flowing singletrack that gave no time for rest, truly an epic but fun course.
With the rain departing just as quickly as it arrived the temperature rose, providing an insight to life in a furnace, especially for those roped into feeding duties. The heat of the day wasn’t just confined to the weather with the racing providing some hot competition as riders battled it out for that elusive top spot.
The elite field saw local riders Adrian Lansley and Chris Minter duke it out for 1st, with Lansley having the upper hand taking the win. Whilst Jenny Copnall, taking a breather from wedding preparations, made a welcome, if brief return to Elite racing, comfortably taking the win from young rider Carla Haines.
Expert rider David Beskeen found the course to his liking as he romped to victory, as did expert lady Iwona Szymd, who took a comfortable lead from Natasha Barry over 3 swift laps.
With the National XC Champs just 7 days away, riders were taking this chance to get in one more race before the big day, with many making long trips to get there. Welsh rider Ffion James, being one who made the trip worthwhile taking the juvenile girls win, despite a fast improving Gretal Warner snapping at her heels. Ed MacParland travelling down from Yorkshire had less luck in the highly competitive youth boy’s race. Just 43 secs separated the top 3 after an intense 2 lap race that saw the lead change hands constantly, until Alex Peters made the winning move in the last lap opening up a 41 sec lead. MacParland was left to battle it out with Harry Franklin for 2nd and 3rd.
Master rider Scott Forbes has certainly been a force to deal with has he, as consistently been the man to beat. However a recent crash at a BMBS event left Forbes worse off than expected with a broken rib and a slipped disc adding to his woes. So with just 7 days to go before he lines up to defend his National jersey, Forbes was using the race to find out how hard he could push himself. With worthy rivals in the line up, including Whyte rider Luke Smith, Forbes was certain for anything but an easy ride, however, digging deep over the 4 lap race, Forbes proved yet again to be the one to beat, taking the win from Smith with a 74 sec lead. Jo Munden found herself pushed to the limit in the women’s masters race yet again, with Ruth Mordaunt making a XC comeback in time for the Nationals adding to regular rival Emma Bradley, making an exciting race, with Munden coming out on top with just a handful of seconds to spare from Mordaunt.
The vet’s men’s race continues to be one of the most competitive of all the races with over 50 riders in the mix. The racing was fierce with just 24 secs separating the top 4. Lewis King, Mark Chadbourne, Darren Shepherd and Paul Hopkins made up the lead group of fast moving vets, with the lead constantly in flux. Hopkins looking smooth and controlled bided his time, moving into the hot seat taking the race out front by lap 3, with King, Shepherd and Chadbourne in pursuit. Hopkins proved once again to be on fire taking the win, leaving King just 10 secs adrift to ease claim 2nd just ahead of Chadbourne, with Shepherd finishing a further 9 secs later. Nicky Hughes found herself locked in a close battle too in the vet’s ladies race with Jackie Roberts giving her a run for her money. Hughes however held onto her lead by just 12 secs to take the win.
Another closely fought race was played out in the sport race with Richard Jones coming back from a slow start, grabbing the lead from Matthew Taylor, on lap 2 taking it to the line building up a 24 sec lead from Taylor.
60 riders lined up to tackle the open race with Craig Boddice fighting hard with Dominic McLoughlin for the win. After a ding-dong battle over 3 laps Boddice grabbed the win just 18 secs clear of McLoughlin, while Emily Joyce took control of the women’s open race. Ben Andrews started as he meant to continue, out in front in the fun race taking the win, with Diane Kendall scoring victory in her one lap fun race.
Another grand day out was had by all, with plenty of champagne on offer for the winners, which they readily shared with the crowd! Thanks to everyone that rode, raced, organised!
If you fancy having a go at a Southern XC make a date in your diary for the 22nd August where the racing heads of to Alton.
For more details check out www.southernxc.net
With a large field of just over fifty riders the weather was hot and the course very dry and dusty. When the gun went I had a problem getting clipped in and went from the front row to about tenth place, but managed to get back into fourth place before the single track once I had located my right pedal.
The pace of the leading three was high through the single track and I kept with Mark Chadborne, Lewis King and Darren Shepherd for the first lap. All four of us kept together for this initial lap and made a good gap on the rest of the field. By lap two I had decided I would attack and take them by surprise. I felt strong on the climbs and my plan would be to strike on an open draggy climb halfway into the lap. We got to this section earlier than I thought and as we hit the base of the climb I was in third place just in front of Darren but Mark and Lewis had a gap of a few seconds. Probably not ideal to attack when your not on your opponents wheels but I kicked anyway and half way up passed them both at speed expecting for someone to try and jump on my wheel but when I looked back at the top of the climb I had a good gap and pushed on.
At the start of the third and final lap I was still in sight of the Mark and Lewis and they kept chasing hard. I felt confident I could maintain the gap. I kept an eye through the twisty sections of the course to make sure I had a safe distance and more than once had to kick again as they started to close me down. It did not help when I fluffed a couple of the dusty fast corners and lost valuable seconds.
Mark led the chase but Lewis kicked for the finish and jumped Mark with a couple of hundred meters to go. With Lewis finishing in a sprint mode the gap across the finish line was only 10 seconds. The course lent itself to some close racing, as 90% was twisty single track, a totally different race to Dalby last week but still great fun.
It was great to seal the Southern Series with this win. Now its time to focus on the National Champs next weekend.
Last weekend up at Dalby I had a nasty off and was left with a couple of cracked ribs and a damaged disc in my back and for the last few days I have debated about racing today but I needed to get my head straight for the National Champs and this was a perfect race to do it on. The flat course and fast single track meant the race was never really going to split apart meaning I needed to push pretty hard to make any headway; this would test the back under a race situation before next week. Luke Smith, Gerald Tudor and many others were all looking fast and got the jump on me at the start. Halfway through the first lap I made a move and once at the front just got my head down. With so many corners it was easy to get out of sight of the chasers, only slowing a few times to make sure I didn’t have stupid off again.
It was just what I needed and I now feel more positive about next week knowing that I can push hard in the race with not too much back pain. Again another super fast and very hot day’s racing; I can’t remember a season where we have had such hot weather, but I’m not complaining.