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Cycling: East region riders do battle with the mud in Bradford

Jimmy Piper , ninth in Bradford

Jimmy Piper , ninth in Bradford

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Eastern League cyclo-cross riders headed north to Bradford for the national championships and were soon having to deal with mud – something that we have not seen in the Eastern League all this season.

Elspeth Grace - the Eastern Champion who took the Junior bronze in Bradford Elspeth Grace - the Eastern Champion who took the Junior bronze in Bradford

Conditions in Peel Park, Bradford were not particularly wet, and conditions were never as bad as in the national Trophy at Shrewsbury just before Christmas.

However, the course at Bradford is on two distinct levels and the lower part gradually accumulates water and gets churned up as a two-day event proceeds.

Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that the best results from Eastern riders came on the first day, before the mud became such an important factor.

Mike Bowen of West Suffolk Wheelers finished 13th out of 90 starters in the Vets 50+ race.

Mike Bowen (West Suffolk Whs, in red) and Dave Copland Ipswich BC) Mike Bowen (West Suffolk Whs, in red) and Dave Copland Ipswich BC)

He benefited from a decent position on the grid – thanks to his high placings in the East this winter, and only changed his bike once – at the start of the last lap.

Even better placed was Eastern 50+ Champion Jimmy Piper who made good use of a spare bike lent by Gipping RT’s Mark Wingar and pit help from Andy Parrish (Ipswich BC). “Wellies were a must,” said Parrish – even more so next day when Parrish and several others were on duty again helping Grant Martin and Lloyd Chapman in the Elite Championship.

Jimmy Piper made an excellent start – straight into the top three, but his lack of experience of slippery mud meant that mishaps were almost inevitable and after yo-yo-ing in the middle of the top ten, Piper finished ninth, while Ipswich BC’s Dave Copland was 40th.

Facing an increasingly cut-up course on Sunday, Under-23 rider James Madgwick (QSW/Ettix) was unlucky to have a contretemps in the pits resulting in a lap on a too-large bike hastily borrowed from eastern leaguer William Warre, dropping Madgwick from fourth to tenth.

Young Elspeth Grace (Welwyn Whs) who has been unbeatable this year in the Eastern League was competing in a combined Under-23 and Junior field and took eighth overall and third among the Juniors.

Junior men had their own separate race and after Dougal Toms’ win in the Ipswich round of the national trophy series local hopes rested on the south Norfolk rider. However lack of practice in the mud soon told and a first-lap slip was not the last and he finished 15th, over five minutes down.

New champion is Sam Moses who had been back in fourth at a dry, fast Trinity Park.

With bikes being changed every lap and needing quick work with the pressure-washer, the race was hard work for Keiran Jarvis’s family helping team, especially as they were also acting as pit crew for friend and rival Micheal Parry (Welwyn Whs) and the pair were coming in to the pits very close together. Jarvis eventually finished 21st and Parry 22nd.

With some signs that the course was slightly drying for the last race, for Elite Men, tyre choice was tricky. In the end Eastern League Senior Champion Grant Martin finished 28th while his Elmy Cycles team-mate Lloyd Chapman was 35th.

Further up the list Renvale’s Midland rider Richard Jones was 20th and occasional Eastern League rider Jonathan Dennis did well running long stretches with his lightweight single-speed bike, taking 23rd spot.

Top local Under-16 rider was Fred Gill (Chelmer CC, 55th), two places ahead of Jack Parrish (Ipswich BC).

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