Round 2 of the ever excellent Midweek MTB Madness series of 2016 took place on Thursday evening at Chorlton Water Park, (yes, sorry about the title but every pun intended). A large field of mixed abilities spent an hour in this sunless, humid and dusty desert of South Manchester.
Charles Dennison of Manchester Wheelers organised an excellent event with a course which had everything for everybody-ups, downs, gravel, grass, woods, midges, and the unique atmosphere of a midweek crowd fresh from work and raring to go.
The great interest in the mens event was the anticipated duel between established star Giles Drake (Leisure Lakes) and the young upstart snapping at his heels, Will Lewis (High Peak Cycles RT). This did not disappoint and from the the off the pair established a joint lead that was never going to be challenged. Indeed as they went through the finish line for the first time the distance they had over third place was quite staggering. Drake knew he was in a battle and effort and exertion was written all over his face.
Drake shows the strain as he keeps Lewis at bay
As the race progressed Lewis seemed comfortable to sit an extremely close second wheel, high skills from Lewis and great respect to Drake for setting the pace and trying to shake the youngster off. The elastic finally snapped on the last lap when the greater experience of Drake and his endurance hardened legs allowed him to steal away and grab the victory by a couple of seconds. It was close and on another day a reversal of this result will happen.
As the winner crossed the line so the other weary racers trailed in, faces caked with dust and, by the sounds of one or two, lungs also!
In the womens event Becky Preece (Leisure Lakes), fresh from her victory at the North of England Champs,stormed unchallenged to the win. She is a class act and was on another level to the others here. She is now well on track to take the overall series honours, even at this early stage. Both Becky and Giles are competing in Powys this weekend in round four of the National Cross Country series. They will both put up a good showing and should a mixed tandem event ever be introduced will surely be world champions! Actually I could have hit onto something there.
Becky Preece winning even with her eyes closed!
So a great evening of racing and as the field made their way home in the fading light of an early Summer evening there were plenty of stories being swapped and backs being patted. Makes a welcome change to Coronation Street. Wonder how Norris’s roof is?
The Men’s Podium: Giles Drake, Will Lewis and Christian Smith
The Women’s Podium Becky Preece, Alison Rushton and Sarah Harris
and as with all Midweek MTB Madness races thanks to the sponsors there are plenty of prize winners
Round three of this series, scheduled for Sutton Manor, has unfortunately been cancelled due to a lack of parking spaces. The series will be poorer for not having this particular event as last years was a cracker.
The next bout of Madness will therefore be on 7th July at Beacon Country Park. It seems like ages to wait but it’ll be here before you know it.