Each year, May brings the start of a number of local racing series, and the season is now well and truly under way. On Tuesday 9 May, it was the Beacon’s turn to organise a round of the Stourport Summer Series. On a nice evening, there was a good turnout of riders despite the alternative attraction of watching the Tour Series visit Redditch. Thanks to everyone who helped out on the night, and congratulations to Nick Morris (Clee Cycles), Christie Jones (Hereford & District Wheelers) and Ben Manfield-Yorke (Morvelo-Basso RT) for their wins in the 4th-cat, women’s 1/2/3/4 and the 2/3/4 races respectively. Full results are available on the British Cycling website. The Beacon’s Dave Hughes and Gavin Passmore combined marshalling duties with racing, and Dave deserves special mention for his strong performance in the 4th-cat race, where he finished 13th out of 31 starters.
Two days earlier, Dave had been racing at Enville in the Stourbridge Velo round of the LVRC Percy Stallard Series. Last season, Dave had finished 2nd in his age category in this event, on his return to racing after a decades-long break. This year, he was 3rd in his category, losing out in the sprint to two very strong riders in Don Parry (the reigning national champion) and Ralph Keeler. Dave was back in LVRC action again on 21 May, when he took part in the Worcester St Johns-organised Gerry Hughes Memorial Road Race at Great Witley. Unfortunately, his race ended early and painfully. Not satisfied with racing for the category win, Dave attempted to bridge across to a two-rider breakaway with another rider, but during the chase he hit a sunken pothole and was thrown from his bike, suffering extensive road rash but thankfully no broken bones. Dave was very grateful to the St John Ambulance volunteers and the race organisers for their help, but says he will probably be laying off the road racing for a while (he was still out riding a club TT four days later though!).
The South Staffordshire and Shropshire Cycling Clubs Road Race League (SSSCCRRL) also got underway in May, with Laurence Cooley and James Tate the two Beacon riders to enter the full series this year. In the second round on 18 May, on the Charlton course between Telford and Shrewsbury, Laurence and James’s handicap group managed to hold off all of the faster groups and James finished 5th in the sprint for his first BC points of the season and his best race result to date. There’s a good write-up on the league website here and some photos from David Perry here. The following week, it was the Beacon’s turn to help organise a round by supporting Stourbridge CC, who did an excellent job of putting on the league’s only visit to the Enville course this year. The series runs until 20 July and entries are available on the line most weeks, and as a league-affiliated club, Beacon members get priority entry, so if you’re considering giving road racing a go, this is a good option.
There were also some good results for Beacon riders in the Solihull No Frills circuit races, which returned to Tudor Grange for another year. The biggest Beacon turnout was for the 3/4 race on 24 May, when Matt Clegg, Laurence Cooley, Tim Egan, Gavin Passmore and Jamie Dennis all raced in a full field of 40. It was a quick race, especially early on, and Matt was involved in several breakaway attempts, but none of them stuck. Gavin spent most of the final five laps on the front, and was rewarded with an 8th-place finish. The following week’s event took place on the day of the sad death of local junior rider Joe Guy, of Wolverhampton Wheelers, and the race was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of both Joe and former Solihull rider and amateur world champion Graham Webb. There is a brief write-up of the race on the BC West Midlands Facebook page. John Hunt was the lone Beacon participant, but finished a strong 6th, between the breakaway and the bunch.
While away at university in Leicester, Matt has also been racing at Mallory Park, where he finished 9th in the 3rd-cat race on 18 May, on an evening that started dry but ended with torrential rain, resulting in conditions that were “so wet it was difficult to breathe due to the spray from the wheel in front”, as Matt put it. He would in all likelihood have finished higher than 9th, had the rider in front of him not dropped his chain in the sprint, which forced Matt to freewheel for a significant portion of the finishing straight.
Amongst other road and circuit races in May, John Hunt and Daniel Newns raced in the 2/3/4 Halesowen Road Race, James Tate travelled to the Cotswolds for the 3/4 Gloucester City CC Summer Road Race, and Gavin and Matt raced in the crash-afflicted 2/3/4 support race at the Shrewsbury Grand Prix.
On the track, participants in the Halesowen Friday Night Track League have been a bit unlucky with the weather so far this season, with gloriously sunny days giving way to rain on Friday nights, resulting in a couple of cancelled rounds. Nonetheless, when they have been able to race, Beacon riders have been doing well. Adrian Ravenscroft, Dave Hughes, Gavin Passmore, Robin Kirkham and Pete Marshall all raced the first round on 5 May, with the highlights being Gavin winning the course des primes and jointly winning the points race, Dave coming 2nd in the women & veterans’ devil and 3rd in the points race, Robin 5th in 14-lap endurance race and Adrian 5th in the 35-lap endurance race. On 26 May, Gavin and Pete were joined by Matt Clegg and Tim Egan, and Beacon Academy members Joseph Egan and George Astbury took part in the under-10 “freewheelers” category. The official results haven’t yet been published (hopefully we’ll have them for the next racing report), but there were Beacon wins and George took home £5 for his debut performance. There are some good photos of the night’s action on the Halesowen Flickr page. Meanwhile, Dave is now confirmed as the winner of category F in the LVRC Derby track league.
While this report doesn’t usually cover time trials and triathlon, it would be remiss of me not to mention that Anne Hughes successfully defended her age-group sprint-distance title in the British National Triathlon Championships on 27 May. The day before, Jessica Rhodes-Jones won the 19-34 age category at the Contre la Montre de l’Albigeoise in Albi, France, which formed a round of the UCI Gran Fondo World Series and qualified Jess for the Gran Fondo World Championships later in the year. The word is that the Hugheses are looking to invest in a bigger mantelpiece, and Jess can’t be far off needing to as well.
We’re only five days into June but there’s already enough material for another report, which will be coming at the end of the month…