Cyclocross update – National Champs weekend!

Stephen BrookCyclo Cross, News

Peter Golding’s race report

Last weekend was the British Cyclocross Championships which, for the first time ever, were held in Scotland. The host town was Falkirk, famous for the Antonine Wall, which was the furthest North the Romans ventured, the fantastic ‘Kelpies’ and the engineering marvel that is the ‘Falkirk Wheel’. If you’re ever driving that far North, visit the ‘Kelpies’ at night.

However, we’re talking cyclocross, the Falkirk Junior Bike Club (FJBC) have hosted a round of the National Trophy for the previous 2 seasons, where they have honed their skills of organising a major event. They were also able to see what worked with the course and where improvements could be made, all aimed at hosting the National Championships.

FJBC did not disappoint, the weekend of racing was superb, the course a mixture of technical drops and climbs, interspersed with fast grass sections and 180 switchbacks, for the experts, or those better than me, there was only one section where the bike had to be carried, up ‘The Wall’ named after the aforementioned Antonine Wall.

The first races of the day were all held under UCI rules, which meant the 80% rule** was in force, for those that don’t know, this means that if you are lapping at less than 80% of the leaders time you’re pulled out at a point before the finish ! This meant that some competitors who had travelled a long way to race, were pulled out after 2 laps, harsh in my book, very harsh, they didn’t even get to complete half the distance of the leaders. The leaders were outstanding, Cat Ferguson won the Junior Women’s race lapping faster than Anna Kay who won the separate Senior race, Cameron Mason comfortably won the Senior Men’s race in front of exuberant home fans, almost as many as at a European Event.

My race was the last of the day, starting 2 minutes after the V50’s field, which included for the first time this season, the irrepressible Nick Craig who has raced every round of the National Trophy in the Senior Category, finishing in the Top 15! It was going to be inevitable that I along with many others, would be lapped !

My friend Mark Fayers and I, decided after walking the course and checking out the technical sections, that we would not do a pre ride/sighting lap, but do our warm up around the start area, thus keeping our shoes and cleats clean and our powder dry ! We would soon see if this would work in our favour.

Oh, the pre race chat from many was tyre choice; it seems the majority of the top riders chose intermediate tyres, oh to have the confidence to ride them.

After the V50’s had all got away cleanly and surged up the start hill (a little bit more testing than West Stow), it was our turn. The Chief Commissaire for the Event was none other than Ian Poole, Chairman of the Eastern Region and it was he who would blow the whistle to get us underway. I got a good start from my grid position of 15th, but as the ground began to rise, there was a crunching sound from close behind as riders came too close together, I was pushed and my rear wheel was rubbed hard, I was fearful of falling too, but managed to stay upright, though losing impetus and some time. The rest of the out-lap went without incident, it wasn’t until the first tricky descent of the first lap immediately after the hurdles, at the ‘bomb hole’, that I found myself being impeded by riders who couldn’t ride the subsequent short climb, who stayed on the bike for too long and then collapsed sideways as they failed to unclip, causing carnage for us that followed, but hey that’s racing, however you have to get clipped back in for the return into the hole, failure to do so meant that you couldn’t power up the next climb, nor the next after another tricky descent, then the awkward turn around a tree and another drop and steep short climb, followed by another, then the critical off-camber drop onto tarmac and climb that followed. Yep you’ve guessed it, that’s what happened to me, a litany of small mistakes, which are not too bad in isolation, but add them up, wallop !

What a course it was, watching it back on BBC iPlayer and seeing how much time was saved by not dismounting, amounted to a minimum of 20 seconds in that short section. Climbing ‘The Wall’ was child’s play after that. It took me until my last lap, to realise that it was much quicker for me, to run the majority of the technical section, I was 20 seconds quicker ! Oh what might have been, but I was surprised and delighted at the podium ceremony to discover I’d finished 3rd V65 and 15th overall in the V60’s and yes, Nick Craig lapped me !

For those of you who know Simon Hime V60 from our league he had a superb race, finishing 2nd overall and beating the current World Masters Champion in the process, what a result ! Callum Laborde also had a superb ride in the Senior race finishing 5th U23 and 10th overall, great results for the East Angleirons!

So it’s onto the Stow Scramble on Sunday at Haughley Park, it’s going to be chilly, so wrap up warm, it’s a great spectator course, if you would like to come and support.

** Regulation 5.1.052 here for those interested !