Hadleigh Park sits on an exposed ridge overlooking the Thames estuary and can be windy even on a calm day, with mainland Europe being battered by storms the mountain bike track was taking the full force being lashed by gale force winds and sheet rain. Setting up the course was a challenge with the tape and markings being ripped and torn down as soon as the organising team could put them up and with leaves and branches littering the ground around Oak Tree Drop cancellation was a distinct possibility. Luckily the rain stopped and the winds died down a little by the time the riders turned up to start their practice laps.
The senior male riders were gridded quickly then set off directly into a block head wind, this caused the riders to soon spread out into small groups all scrabbling around for shelter, Travis Pell (CC Ashwell) took the early lead as the course turned hard right down the firewood to the bottom of the course with the rapid decent made even faster by the raging tail wind. 4 riders quickly started to pull clear on the first lap with Jake Darragh (Hadleigh MTB) and Travers Bikes pair Russ Welch and Gavin Thomas swapping positions during the race until Gavin eventually made the decisive winning move on lap 4 slowly pulling clear of the chasing riders. Russ Welch chased hard to eventually finish 2nd with Travis Pell in 3rd overhauling the fast starting Jake Darragh who held on for 4th. The series has thrown up some exciting results with the joint first place at round 2, this makes it 5 different winners in 4 races! 4 races down and 4 to go and the series is still wide open.
Due to illness and British Cycling duties the Adults women field was thinned down with Sue Woods (Hadleigh MTB) putting in some strong lap times to take the win and close the gap on series leader Jo Hitchen.
Harry Bates (Hadleigh MTB) under 16’s series leader missed the race giving the other riders a chance to close the gap on him. Harrison Darley (Hadleigh MTB) did just that with a fine 3rd on the day but more importantly jumping into a 8 point lead overall. George Crocombe (Hadleigh MTB) showed his class starting one minute behind the senior field it didn’t take him long to work his way to the sharp end of the race with Alex Kings (Flitch Bikes) keeping the pressure on in 2nd place.
Harley Pell (CC Ashwell) led the under 16’s female category from the start before she had a front puncture and had to ride a lap almost on the rim, she held on for the win over 2nd place Kess Claxton (Travers Bikes) who strengthened her grip on the overall lead.
ESES round 5 is back at Potash woods, the venues offers some great close racing with lots of single track. You can still enter online until midnight Sunday. http://www.traversbikes.com/eses.html