By Liam Moakes Tuesday 29 January 2013 Updated: 30/01 17:17
THERE was excitement in the Redditch Road & Path Cycling Club camp as they headed to Wolverhampton for the final race of the West Midlands Cyclo-Cross League season.
The course was very different from previous years due to the wet conditions but a bright, sunny and cold morning greeted the U10s race in which Redditch had a fine turnout of ten riders.
Being the final race, this was a chance for everyone to consolidate their league positions and each rider had their own goals of who to beat.
Sulli Berry rounded off an impressive season by managing to beat many of his local Halesowen rivals to finish in eighth place - his best position of the season - just four seconds off sixth place.
He has another year left in this age group so will be hoping to be up there with the leaders next year.
Luke Richardson improved significantly with a gutsy ride. Having to start at the back of the grid, he scythed his way through the field and stayed strong all the way to the end to finish 14th.
Charlotte Blundell was the first Redditch girl home as she finished 31st overall and eighth placed girl.
Five-year-old Ryan Oldfield was close behind to cap an impressive first season in the U6 category, in which he has finished the league in second position.
Hannah Turnbull struggled a bit with the conditions after a long lay-off from racing but had a great battle with Aleksandra Franks and Lucy Blundell and all finished well to claim ninth, tenth and 11th positions respectively.
Matthew Blundell battled all race against the muddy conditions, often having to push his bike up the slippery technical parts, but his smile showed he enjoyed every minute.
All of the U10s have shown a great deal of courage and determination this season and all have achieved more than they thought they could in this technical and difficult sport, so well done to all.
Sam Wainwirght was joined by Clarissa Palmeri in the U12s race and by now the course was very cut up and becoming increasingly difficult to ride.
Wainwright used his stamina to build on a solid start and see off older riders along the way. He also has another year left in this age group and by finishing 15th in this race consolidated his 15th position in the league above friend and rival James Ralph.
Clarissa rode strongly all day, often having to get out of the saddle just to get enough power to get through the mud, but her determination and infectious smiles were rewarded with third position in the U12s girls race and she will end the season as fourth placed U12 girl.
Tracey Palmeri returned to racing after having a few weeks off to nurse husband Fino who has had a knee operation which put an end to his season's racing. Hopefully Fino will recover well and will be racing again next year. Get well soon!
Tracey found the conditions hard after her break, but as usual she was unfazed by the wind and rain and fought hard to maintain her great season and finish fifth in her women's category.
Just two Redditch riders entered the youth race and Gareth Richardson and Joe Geehan both battled rain, wind and hail as the conditions deteriorated.
By now it was impossible to ride some parts of the course, but both of the lads had a solid race and were pleased to have finished their season strongly.
Both riders have made a staggering improvement over the course of the season and have shown hard work and determination can help make massive improvements.
The seniors and veterans race was always going to be hotly contested between the Redditch riders, with Paul Salkeld needing his best race of the season to stand any chance of catching Terry Richardson in the league.
At first it seemed Salkeld was on course for glory as he had the bit between his teeth and had gained almost a minute in the first few laps on Richardson, who was still suffering from a calf strain.
Unfortunately for Salkeld though, this was not to last and bad luck struck as his rear mech broke, effectively ending his challenge for club honours as he finished the race on his daughter's bike.
The only Redditch entry in the seniors U40 race was James Strain who has been the most enthusiastic of Redditch riders.
His first season has been a massive learning curve in both technique and fitness, however Sunday's race was to be a culmination of this as he passed Salkeld and was challenging to be the first Redditch rider home, pushing Richardson who is normally minutes ahead all the way to the line.
Strain finished the senior category in 15th place and if he remembers to register for the league next year he will have his eyes on the Redditch Cross Trophy.
A great season has come to an end and it has been the best Redditch has seen for many years with multiple entries throughout the age groups, top ten finishes and brilliant league positions, but most of all lots of fun.
All of the children have had a great time and this infects the adults, encouraging them to have a go, so if you want to try cyclo-cross or just want to join the club please see the website for details at www.rrpcc.co.uk. It is a family club and membership is just £12.
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