Stephen James turns on the heat from the off at Winter Series MTB at Thetford
- Credit: Fergus Muir
Stephen James put in a jaw-dropping opening lap at the final Winter Series MTB races in Thetford Forest.
Even though the Renvale RT rider was setting out on the longest option – four hours – no-one got near his 26:47 lap for the rest of the day.
The course based at Mayday Meadow, east of the Brandon-Elveden road, included two classic ‘bombholes’ – Howe’s Pit and Tom’s Pit –and was amazingly dry though riders talked of a “wall of wind” on one fire-road.
“Dry, fast and grippy - you could pedal hard round every corner,” said Mat Shotbolt, staffman at LifecycleUK, Bildeston who was 28th in a huge two-hour field. There was plenty of fire-road for overtaking, but if you got caught behind a string of slower riders at start of the “Double Shocker” uphill technical section it could be frustrating.
Stephen James proved the only four-hour competitor to cover nine laps, over ten minutes clear of all opposition. Next fastest was Vets winner Paul Ashby (MT-Zoom), with 18-39 cat Josh Ibbett (I-Ride) next followed by a slightly fading Richard Dunnett (Team CCN). Next 40+ four-hour men were Chris Hunter from Kenninghall, Colchester man Mark Wellsted and Carl Smith from Gipping Racing Team.
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Stephen James’ Cannondale bike sported an ultra wide-ratio gear block ranging from a tiny ten tooth top cog up to a huge dinner-plate of a 42 next to the spokes – all joined by a special chain to the single 34 tooth ring with alternate thick and thin teeth.
However a good result could still be achieved without such machinery -–Malcolm Borg, proprietor of the Glemsford Cycle Clinic was riding much-loved old hard-tail frame with an assortment of equipment – and still took 17th place in the same category.
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Women’s Two-Hour winner was Laura Sampson (Gipping RT) from Thetford rider Melanie Paddington (EHF Racing). Paddy Atkinson from Ipswich won the Juniors while Jon Pybus (Torq) led a “foreign invasion” at the top of the Two-Hour 18-39 result. Local Vets were more successful at two hours – with Dan Howe (GRT) third, 3:57 down on winner Antony White, Nick Ainsworth (Haverhill CC) 5th and Adrian Healey (GRT) 7th.
The Maldon & District CC brought cyclo-cross right onto the atmospheric Maldon waterfront with their Cross-on-the-Prom promotion. The club also provided the Senior winner with Russ Welch making up for his puncture-affected ride at Taverham Hall the previous week by leading from start to finish. Richard Muchmore finished second.
With the outer parts of the course based on two fields at different levels and some very boggy stretches competitors soon looked like proper muddy Belgian cross-riders. Kieran Jarvis scored his first win in Gt Yarmouth CC colours in the Under 16s race, while Harrison Powell won from Chelmer CC’s Alex King in the Under 12s.