Sunsport Velo WRT 2017 Roster. Introducing…..Liz Burrows

ShoottheBikeRace spent the day with Sunsport Velo WRT on Saturday as initial plans for the 2017 season were tabled and discussed. Key to this was the new line up. Last seasons (smaller) squad has flown the nest so all the riders are brand new and fresh out of the box. There is a healthy mixture of youth and experience in the squad and this was the first occasion that many of the riders had met their new teammates and the support staff. It was a highly productive day with most goals achieved including bike and kit fitting, initial physiological assessments and publicity video and photography.

Now therefore seems to be the right time to begin introducing the team. So one a day for the next eight days kicks off with Liz Burrows. Liz will be featuring in an upcoming Q and A so we will keep it brief. She is a 33 year old West Yorkshire girl who has jumped across from Team Jaden  Weldtite. Liz spent several years in triathlon before moving into road racing a couple of years ago. She therefore brings a wealth of experience gleaned from her time across the two disciplines.

More on Liz in next weeks Q and A and another name will be revealed tomorrow.

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Who is…………Rosie Walsh?

Following on from our recent Q and A with Seonaid Thompson we put another one of Sunsport WRTs new recruits under the spotlight.

Emerging talent Rosie Walsh was part of the High on Bikes Road Team for 2016. Spotted by Sunsports then manager Tony Orrell at the ACT track League at the National Cycling Centre she linked up with Sunsport at Stoke for the Matrix Tour Series, sharing their facilities and consequentally guesting for them at several other races. Rosie gave a good account of herself on the road and put herself in a position to move to a higher level career wise. She has now made the move to Sunsport attracted by the benefits on offer that will help with her development. Not just a cycling team Sunsport provide a full rider development package which allows young riders like Rosie to maximise their potential. (We will do a full feature on the team behind the team at Sunsport later in the year). A strong race programme for next season is also on offer and she will be able to mix it with the finest domestic talent at regular intervals throughout the year. Rosie is still very young and her best years are still way ahead of her. In the meantime it is going to be interesting to see how she develops and no doubt thrives in the coming seasons.

 

  Who is Rosie Walsh?

 

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Rosie Walsh

Name…………………. Rosie Walsh
Age……………………. 17
Hometown………….   Hesketh Bank
Live……………………  Hesketh Bank
How long have you been cycling……… I have been cycling for 3 years now, I have just completed my second full season of racing.
Career highlight so far…………This year I was lucky enough to be chosen to race in Norway at the Heroes of Tomorrow Road Race, it gave me my first insight of being part of a team and I really enjoyed the whole experience.
Biggest influence on your cycling…………. My Dad has to be my biggest influence in cycling, he is extremely supportive and takes me to all my races. We started riding our bikes together a few years ago and he loves it just as much as me!
What are your ambitions in the sport……… To continue to enjoy riding my bike and see how far I can get.
Who do you most admire outside of cycling………… My cousin Stephen, as after breaking his leg in 2009, with a lot of hard work he has gone onto complete ultra marathons, most recently running 100 miles! I admire him because he has never given up and is determined to succeed at whatever he puts his mind to!
Away from cycling what would be your preferred career……… A Sports Scientist
You’re stranded on a desert island with three famous people (dead or alive) of your choice. Who are they…………. Justin Bieber (because he is beautiful) and erm… I’m not sure I’d need anyone else?
Favourite Holiday Destination……….. Italy; because of the sun, hills and the pizza
Pineapple on a pizza should be illegal, yes or no ….. Of course not!
Your house is on fire. What one possession do you save ……. I’m not sure I could live without my eyebrow pencil :/
Name a famous person who really really irritates you and in 5 words why………….. Drake – Controversial, but he annoys me.

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Multiple Choice

Ant or Dec – Dec
Ketchup or Brown Sauce – none, I’m not a fan of sauce
Cats or Dogs – Pugs
GBBO or Poldark – GBBO

and finally back to cycling, what would you say is your main strength eg climbing, sprinting, suffering….. Suffering 😀

Follow Rosie’s first season at Sunsport on twitter @rosiiewalsh and look out for an in depth interview with her over the winter.

 

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The Rakes Progress

Sunday saw the annual pilgrimage to Rawsons Rake in Ramsbottom for the prestigious  Lancashire RC hill climb event. A great crowd was rewarded with some fine Autumn weather and a field  made up of some good quality big hitters on the hill climb scene.

 

The Rake has been hosting this event since the 1920s where the original concept was to get as far up the hill as you could before stopping. Nowadays, thanks in chief to better bike technology, most riders do hit the summit although some get there in better nick than others. The times also vary considerably as might be expected from a field of mixed abilities.

A great development this year has been the equalling out of prize money between male and female competitors. This led to 14 women taking on the challenge as opposed to only three last year. This kind of innovation can only lead to success as word gets around and more women are attracted to the event.

Proceedings began one minute after midday with  Hope Kerry from the promoting club first to tackle the hill. She received great support and encouragement from the spectators thronging the route as did the other 104 riders who followed her at one minute intervals.

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Over the course of the next one and a half hours plus the riders made their slow and painful ascent toward the Shoulder of Mutton pub, some by virtue of their slalom like racing line covering well in excess of the proscribed 872 metres.

 

As is the norm for this type of event the big hitters were the last ones off and now spaced at two minute intervals. Favourite and man on form Dan Evans could only manage fourth place on a course that was possibly a little to short for his liking. Previous multiple winner Jim Henderson, hill climbing legend around these parts struggled to keep up with the younger pups and came home to great applause in 15th place. But it was Joe Clark of EnvelopeMaster Giant Sheffield who took the top honours with a time of two minutes 17.2 seconds and only three seconds off the longstanding course record. He edged out One Pro Cyclings Richard Handley by three seconds and in doing so has now made himself favourite for the coming National Championships in Matlock.

The womens event was one by Becky Lewis of Wrexham RC who set a blistering pace of 3 minutes and 8 seconds to break the course record and giver her an 11 second margin over second placed Jessica Roberts.

Other winners included Ben Huddart of Lancashire RC in the Juniors and Niall Patterson of VC Cumbria in the Vets.

All in all a terrific day. I have been to this event for over twenty years and National Championships aside this is definitely the best one I have witnessed. The atmosphere was great, the organisation by Lancashire RC was superb and the class of racing was top notch.

 

Organiser Duncan Smith, from Bolton-based Lancashire Road Club, said: “It has gone amazingly well. So many people have come not just to take part but also to support.” He went on to acknowledge the success that equalling out the prize money had in attracting a greater female turnout.

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3 Peaks 2016. A Day in the Dales

Unlike last year when the unseasonably hot September weather bathed the Yorkshire Dales in glorious sunshine, Sundays edition of the Three Peaks Cyclo Cross race saw a return to form with a mix of wind driven showers and lead grey skies. But hey, if you want good weather don’t do cyclo cross, especially in this part of the world.

The Three Peaks has been tormenting anyone brave enough to tackle it since 1961. It is recognised as the toughest cross race in the world and although there is possibly less than one percent of the starters in with a chance of victory each and every finisher is a winner.

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Six hundred plus hardy competitors embarked from Helwith Bridge at 9:30 to tackle the climbs of Whernside, Ingleborough and Penyghent and of course every other twist, turn, hump and hollow between them. The race is a good solid mixture of offroad riding, road racing and tortuous hill walking with bike on shoulder. A day for the mountain goats ensued.

 

Travelling towards my destination the roadsides were filling up with spectators eager to glimpse friends and family members as they tackled the route. At one point I found myself driving alongside Rob Jebb as he appeared from a farm track and hurtled along the road. You can’t do that in the Tour De France!

 

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Taking my usual position at Ribblehead ( I must try a new location next year) and doing my damndest to keep the horizontal rain off my lenses the riders, lead at this stage by chief goat Jebb, started to appear shortly before 11:30. Two hours over hill and dale and still looking wide eyed and relatively fresh, this is a game for the most rugged of athletes, men and women of grit and resolve that us mere mortals can only wonder at.

Jebb flew past with last years victor Paul Oldham close in his wake. These were the protagonists who would duel for the spoils as the race unfolded.

Veteran Nick Craig, who first won this event in 1991, opting for an alternative and less rugged decent towards the iconic viaduct lay third with Ian Taylor hot on his wheels. Taylor took a tumble on the grassy slope but quickly remounted to resume the chase.

And so it was for the next two hours or so that my chosen hillside was littered with many a rider each undertaking their own private battle with the terrain, the weather and their own inner thoughts. I witnessed punctures, cartwheels, skid and slides. Many an expletive was heard as riders battled to mix speed with personal safety only to be skittled by hesitation and lack of momentum. The cobbled steps needed to be met head on and at reasonable speed. Don’t dally or you will be parted from your mount!

When the stragglers finally went past Ribblehead and on their way to Penyghent the winners, Paul Oldham and Delia Beddis were long since back at the ranch and in receipt of their trophies and presumably a well deserved pint or two. But the stragglers are just as important as the Jebbs, Oldhams, Beddises and Craigs. The ordinary folk are what makes the race special. Its what makes us all believe that we too can tackle this course. Speaking for myself though someone has to photograph it so i won’t be partaking. Whats your excuse?

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The Three Peaks always, in my tiny mind anyway, sounds the bell for Winter. From here on in the weather turns grim and the tyres turn nobbly. Zip up your coat, put on your hat. The next few months belong to the hard men and women.

For full results go here.

If your photo appears in the gallery please feel free to download. Personal use only though, no commercial rights.

For the full set go to chrismeadsphotography

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Introducing Sunsport WRT’s Seonaid Thompson

After a debut season that has exceeded their wildest expectations with appearances in most of the major domestic events, extensive television coverage and regular trips to the podium, Sunsport Women’s Race Team are not about to rest on their laurels.

Indeed they have ambitious plans for 2017 including increasing their roster to bolster the existing talent within their ranks. As part of this strategy they have acquired the highly talented triathlete cum roadie Seonaid Thompson. As the plans for next season become more developed we will have in depth interviews with  all riders and support staff including Seonaid but in the meantime and by way of introduction let’s find out more about her.

Commonwealth Games 2014 Mixed Relay

In the Mixed Relay Tri at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

 

 

Name………………… Seonaid
Age…………………….31
Hometown………….  Eastbourne
Live…………………… Leeds
How long have you been cycling………………6 years (though for 5 of them I was focusing on triathlon)
Career highlight so far ……….in cycling, competing in the Tour de Yorkshire 2015, in triathlon, competing in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014
Biggest influence on your cycling………….trying to keep up with the triathlon girls, especially Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall.
What are your ambitions in the sport……………to win a Scottish Championship event
Who do you most admire outside of cycling…….my Mum
Away from cycling what would be your preferred career………my current job – Communications Director at MTa Learning (www.mtalearning.com)
You’re stranded on a desert island with three famous people (dead or alive) of your choice. Who are they…………Thomas Andrews, to build a boat, and Helen Glover and Heather Stanning to row us out of there.
Favourite Holiday Destination……….Sardinia
As you know, by law, Friday night is chippy tea night. What do you order?……………..Fish, chips and mushy peas with a little bit of salt and lots of vinegar.
Last time you were drunk……….not applicable!
Last (none bike related) purchase over £100……..a video camera

Multiple Choice

Adele or Pierce the Veil……Adele

Pizza or Salad………………Pizza

Cats or Dogs……………….Dogs

Eastenders or Corrie………Corrie

and finally back to cycling, what would you say is your main strength eg climbing, sprinting, suffering…….sprinting

We wish Seonaid the best of good fortune in her new colours and look forward to tracking her progress in the coming months.

Seonaid can be found on twitter @SeonaidThompson

Watch this space over the coming winter months as we interrogate more of Sunsports riders and staff before we hit the road with them for extensive coverage next season.

 

 

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What I Did Last Week-The Tour of Britain

As everyone but the BBC knows the Tour of Britain did a tour of Britain last week.

I managed to accompany them for the first half of said tour visiting such far flung and exotic locations as Scotland, Carlisle, Kendal, The Lake District and leafy Cheshire. Unfortunately after stage three I had to leave them to their own devices. They seemed to cope however and in the process produced a superb race showcasing the wonderful and diverse scenery that our island is blessed with. A deserving victor in Steve Cummings ensued and everyone went home happy.

In a random order here is my photographic story.

The Tour of Britain 2016

 

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Midweek MTB Madness. A Series in Pictures

Another entertaining season of Midweek MTB Madness drew to a close at Beacon Park last week. I have probably used enough words reporting each event so if a picture paints a thousand words here’s nearly 100 thousand of them!

Feel free to download but personal use only please. If you wish to use them commercially please email me.

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A Final Bout of Madness

The excellent Midweek MTB Madness series reached its conclusion on Sunday (yes, I know) at Beacon Country Park, its second visit of the year. Organised by Dave Harrison and as a late addition to the calendar it was again a resounding success with fantastic organisation and great support from riders and sponsors alike.

The weather, as is typical of this most unreasonable of summers, was a bit dubious beforehand  but the race itself was bathed in glorious grey cloud with the odd dash of sunshine sprinkled in for good measure. The track had held up well despite the recent downpours but with Beacon Park the challenges often lie elsewhere regardless of the course conditions. As well as the ever changing terrain there is also has a terrific drop off through the trees which is a photographers dream

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Dropping Off!

The mens race saw the return of rising star Will Lewis of High Peak Cycles and with Giles Drake absent Chris Lever was likely to provide the strongest challenge to Lewis, who was aiming for his second win of the series. Valuable points were also at stake as the overall series winner would be decided on the outcome.

The women’s event, bereft of Lee Quarry’s protagonists Becky Preece and Alison Rushton was low on numbers but with the talented Martha Gill, fresh from a stint in Canada, the field still contained much fire power. You’ve gotta love Martha, rides fast and skilfully but with a heavy peppering of laughter and enjoyment- it’s a game she is very good at playing. Ever present Maggie McPhillips deserves a mention also. I feel like I have lived every moment of her efforts through the series, her grimacing, laughing and yes the odd walk when the going gets tough (far from the only one there Maggie). Effort writ large across her face, if endeavour was a person it would be called Maggie!

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Marvellous Martha

As the race got underway Lewis shot off into an immediate lead from Lever with Thomas Ramsay in his first race of the series hot on Levers wheels. In the womens event Martha set the pace ahead of Maggie.

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Mighty Lewis

The pressure from Ramsay told on Lever and as the second lap unfolded he raced into second place with Lewis still at the head of affairs and setting a relentless pace. The die was now cast and for the remainder of the race this would be the sequence with Lewis finally bringing them home ahead of Ramsay and Lever. Quite a straightforward victory for Lewis, no dramas and barely out of breath as he crossed the line.

Martha took the honours in the womens race with Maggie benefitting from her own consistency gaining adequate points to lift her into series runner up spot over Preece and a mere six points behind overall winner Rushton.

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Maggie McPhillips

The mens final leaderboard was headed up by Lewis with two wins and two second places in his four appearances. Paul Upton with four top five finishes in the series came overall runner up and Charles Dennison took third.

In other categories Ed Kitching dropped only one point in his four scoring events to take the Enthusiast Class. Now get yourself over to Racers Cat Kitching and don’t come back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kitching Racing to the Series Win

Isaac Peatfield of the ubiquitous clan Peatfield took the youth honours winning every round of the series with Joseph Brooks, another consistent performer, taking second spot. Thomas Rushton just nicked the Juvenile category from Benjamin Peatfield despite Peatfields victory in this round.

A quick catch up with Lewis and curiosity as to why he was now wielding a road bike revealed that he was going to pedal the fifty miles or so home. His mum Katie tasked with returning his off roader back to base and force feeding him a banana and a buttie to see him on his way. This way great champions are made.

Finally, dogs and kids. This event contained a preponderance of both which was evidence, were it needed, of the great family appeal of the series. My new standard measure of family friendliness-the dogs and kids scale.

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So that’s the series done for this year and the small platoon of organisers and volunteers can return to their respective hideouts, many to prepare for the imminent cyclo-cross season where old foes will rejoin battle and the mud is colder, the coffee is hotter……etc.

Full Results

All Rounds and Overall_Series_2016_AWK (2)

Coming Next Week

Midweek MTB Madness.  A Season in Pictures

 

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Who Is…………………..Becky Preece?

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To the inner circle of off road racing the name of Becky Preece needs no introduction, certainly not in the North of England, which is all that really matters of course.

Becky has been on the MTB and cross scene for a number of years and has proven to be one of the finest competitors on the dirt. She has a palmares as long as Mr Tickles arm and is still plenty young enough to rack up a thousand more wins.

Her bike handling skills are second to none as is her ability to gurn and grimace-even when she is winning.

If you follow her on twitter you will understand why the RSPB have a contract out on her. Her ongoing feud with the Merseyside seagull population has recently escalated into an all out war. Air power versus pedal power.

There may still be a few people out there who are not familiar with this talented bikestress and so here she is in her own words:

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  • Name: Becky Preece 
  • Age: 22
  • Hometown: Preston aka P Town
  • Live: Wirral
  • How long have you been cycling: 7 years
  • Career highlight so far: Winning a national MTB race as a Junior, being selected to ride for GB at the World MTB Championships in 2012, winning the 3 peaks cyclocross race as a junior and also being asked to apply for the Olympic Academy.
  • Biggest influence on your cycling: My mum, because she introduced me to the sport and nothing makes me happier than making her proud, and my boyfriend, Giles (Drake), because he is so determined and motivated and it makes me want to be as good as him.
  • What are your ambitions in the sport: In terms of results id like to podium at a National MTB races as an Elite, but in general I just want to enjoy riding and racing my bike, trying different events such as a MTB stage race abroad. 
  • Who do you most admire outside of cycling: Hmmmmmm… Jessica Ennis because she is inspiring and has a six pack that I’m really jealous of. 
  • Away from cycling what would be your preferred career: Well if I’m totally honest, I never want to work 🙂 but in reality, id like to be an outdoor leader and travel the world gaining qualifications in outdoor leadership activities.
  • You’re stranded on a desert island with three famous people (dead or alive) of your choice. Who are they: Chris Martin (because I love Coldplay and him) , Ryan Reynolds (because he’s sexy and I’m shallow), James Corden (because he makes me laugh and I think he could be a good cuddle buddy… tubby)
  • As you know, by law, Friday night is chippy tea night. What do you order? Chips, Jumbo Sausage and Beans because everything else I’m allergic to….
  • Last time you were drunk: 21st May 2016 at my works leaving do, then attempted to race the Crank It round at Clayton Vale… BAAAD idea :S
  • Last (none bike related) purchase over £100: Clothes for my hols!

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Multiple Choice
  • Adele or Pierce the Veil: Because I have no idea who Pierce the Veil are… I’ll have to say Adele (even though she’s depressing)    Always thought it was just me who didn’t get all the fuss about her. CM
  • Pizza or salad: Salad… cause I’m well healthy… and because I’m allergic to cheese so its not really a pizza to me..
  • Cats or Dogs: Neither I dislike them both… and once again I’m allergic (p.s I’m allergic to pretty much everything)
  • Corrie or Eastenders: errrrrr never watched any of them, but ill say Corrie 
  • and finally back to cycling, what would you say is your main strength eg climbing, sprinting, suffering….Probably my technical ability cause I love a good gnarl. I also like a good sprint, especially against Giles because I beat him 😉 

For updates on both Beckys racing career and indeed her ongoing conflict with the scouse seagulls she is on twitter @beckypreecex

 

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Madness Hits the Rocks

Round four of Midweek MTB Madness was hosted by Adrian Watts of Rossendale RC and raced off at Lee Quarry in Bacup, an old familiar venue for many an MTBer from both sides of the Lancashire/Yorkshire border. This venue is the most rugged in the series and by  its nature the quarry is rocky, twisty and turny with some quite spectacular ascents and descents. It seems to have its own microclimate that is the opposite of elsewhere in the locale and it also seems to contain the North Wests number one rendezvous spot for the midge (Midgetus Bastardicus)

In the mens event the dominant pairing from the last round at Beacon Country Park, Tom Bell and Will Lewis, were both absent but another pair of old adversaries in Giles Drake and Chris Lever slipped comfortably into their tread marks to provide the upfront action.

From the gun Drake and Lever grabbed a healthy lead over the rest of the field. I first shot them ascending a particularly rocky part of the course and there was nothing to choose between them. Third place and beyond were already over half a minute behind so barring mechanicals (a distinct possibility on this challenging track) this was definitely a two horse race.

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Drake Leads Lever on Lap Two

 

Onto lap two and the pair went past me still neck and neck with the field now over a minute back. Tellingly though as they were going out of sight Lever was heard to shout to Drake that “you’re on your own now, I’m done”. That’s when the elastic snapped. And so it was that this situation  remained for the rest of the race and although the race for the minor positions was more nip and tuck the status quo between Drake and Lever was maintained to the end with Drake crossing the line comfortably ahead of Lever. Third place was taken by Joseph Peatfield.

Drake has had a few strong challengers in this series but his endurance levels seem to be a class above the others, meaning that he will generally win a war of attrition. He was pushed very close at Chorlton by emerging star Will Lewis but the wily old dog just nicked it on the line. Drake is an outstanding athlete and once again proved that he is the regions dominant  force in this form of racing

The women’s race proved a much closer affair. Becky Preece had returned from her holiday and ended up in a neck and neck duel with one of the stars of the series, Alison Rushton. Although Preece led for the majority of the race she never fully shook Rushtons shadow off. In the closing laps Preece appeared to slow quite visibly and Rushton rapidly closed the gap to just a few seconds. As the light began to fade and the weather closed in a real battle for top honours was playing out.

Onto the penultimate lap and Rushton took the lead for the first time and seemed to have it in the bag. Preece, grimacing, was not going down without a fight however. And so it was that as the rain started Preece emerged out of the gloom to take the win just a handful of seconds ahead of her rival.

Becky explained afterwards that she had started to blow up in the last few laps and had to pace her effort. Alison had erred and put a foot down on the last lap and this was all that Becky needed to snatch back the lead and hold it to the line. Great credit to both women for an excellent performance . Series stalwart Maggie McPhillips put in another great effort to take the final podium spot

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Women’s Winner Becky Preece

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Gallant Runner Up Alison Rushton

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Third Place for Maggie McPhillips

The Lee Quarry round was originally intended to be the series finale. However Dave Harrison over at Beacon Country Park has managed to squeeze in another round on August 21st. That’s Sunday August 21st. Midweek on the weekend.

2107, 2108, 2109……Just counting my midge bites. Anybody else get nipped at the quarry or am I just tastier than you lot?

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