James’ chain gang works its magic to ensure victory at Redgrave cyclo-cross

Stephen James (Renvale RT) drops down from the hedge bank. Picture: FERGUS MUIR

Stephen James (Renvale RT) drops down from the hedge bank. Picture: FERGUS MUIR - Credit: Archant

It was so muddy by the last race at the Redgrave cyclo-cross that Stephen James' chainwheel threw off his chain on the very first lap.

But the Palgrave rider soon recovered the lead from Junior Dougal Toms and eventually took the win – helped by almost continuous work with a pressure washer by his pit-helper, former Thetford MTB expert and now downhill enduro specialist Ian Mockett.

Local riders dominated the Vets 40-49 race, where John Swindells (Iceni Velo) led at end of the first lap. Shaun Aldous (Renvale RT) took over the front on the second, but then mud-master Ian Newby from the promoting Diss & District CC hit the front on lap three.

However, with mud clogging up the works Newby swapped bikes, but found his second machine rather highly geared for the exceptionally heavy going. Aldous – also benefiting from the Renvale pressure-washer – presently regained his accustomed position at the front.

The day will be remembered not so much for the mud as for the perishing wind-chill factor from the strong north-westerly. Never was the Redgrave villagers' hot soup more welcome.

The day also marked the last Redgrave cyclo-cross promotion by 78-year-old Bob Hayward, who next year will be assisting new organiser Tom Fitzpatrick.

Hayward first organised a bike race – a BLRC road race in the Midlands – in 1957 and has contributed a great deal to the sport over the years, both as event organiser and as coaching coordinator.

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Sophie Wright – now also under the Renvale flag – took the women's race, 3:32 up on Jackie Field (CC Ashwell).

Next day the cyclo-cross circus moved to Southwold where the St Felix School paddocks proved free-draining and the new course, including the horse-jump, definitely got the thumbs-up from contestants.

The wind was slightly less, there were glimpses of sun – but the heaviest of showers hit the Senior race – leaving riders exploring conditions they hadn't experienced in practice.

Grant Martin's power proved decisive, the XRT/Elmy rider taking the Senior race from James Madgwick (Hackney GT) with Kieran Jarvis making a welcome return to take second junior and sixth overall.

Junior Sophia Chastell won the women's race outright from Jackie Field with Katie Scotter (Iceni Velo) third – the reigning women's champion now moving up to second in the league, while still short of a full set of 11 results.