Report Ken O'Brien.
A fine gathering of Ladies and Gentlemen eagerly waited at the start for the first rider to be flagged off to section one of the 2014 James Cup. Great names from the past have won this Challenge Cup with the likes of John Avery Bill Faulkner Jack Rees Pat Lamper Don Smith Paul Dyer and Freddie Mayes all engraved. Three laps of twelve testing subs were plotted on the steep wooded hills of ' The Lower Riding' catering for all classes with this event being a Centre Championship round.
Hard route riders set off to section one a series of cambered steep slopes with minimum grip after overnight rain had taken it's toll. Rob Warner 260 Montesa made it all look to easy though and went on to ace the Expert class with a loss of two to take the premiere James Cup. Section two was a real tester too starting across a lace of roots before turning up a vertical rooty rocky outcrop then dropping to the rivers edge and finally a third gear blast to the ends over the Goat track. Mark Elms 250 Beta was in good form and after a steadying prod on the first lap went on to lift the Best Intermediate award dropping seventeen on the 50/50 course.
Next up section three a crowd pleaser to say the least as rider after rider failed to clean the loose stoney climb with an equally difficult drop down off an awkward tree root.
Back to the Experts and two Centre veterans John Cowley and Steve Swanson were up to the job and too tight to give a single dab away after three visits apiece.
Section four a really steep affair had all classes thinking as there were many lines to choose from as fallen trees and muddy turns were the hazards to master.
But on the Standard White route Local Farmer Ali Haigh Beta 250 was having none of it and scorted around for a loss of seven in total to record best performance and take the best Clubman.
On to section nine 'The Graded Hill' this is quite a spectacle for the crowds to watch as it rises gently from the edge of the Evenlode river and 300 yards later we are talking probably a gradient of 1in1 for the last 20 yards or so and not for the faint hearted.
With much early morning dew and heavy showers though the night the ground was in perfect condition and a fair few riders found themselves chasing their bikes back down the big hill after finding too much grip and looping it at this fourth gear climb.
Alan Taylor was best Pre 65 and a return of 11 marks was enough to place him second overall on the standard route.
Best Novice went to Frazer Strutt after a tie break decision against Jason Clifford although Frazer was fairly consistent on section Ten ' The Bombhole ' starting low down in the wood a fierce root step to start before hitting a loose camber after which the greasy hill long and steep was next.
The Blue Eased course is always supported by a variety of machines riders and age groups but today it was the young who triumphed over the old with Dale Freeman Beta 80 losing only 12 marks cleaning all but three sections on the way.