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 fourth 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 first, 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 seconds 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 second and third.
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 seconds 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 seconds 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 seconds adrift to ease claim second just ahead of Chadbourne, with Shepherd finishing a further 9 seconds 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 seconds 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 seconds 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.