Peter Golding’s Cyclocross Report – Week ending 4 February 2024
Well it’s finally over, the Easterncross League 2023/24 season has finished and what a way to finish it was.
Simon Wilson from Colchester Rovers CC, decided to resurrect the end of season relays which would be followed by the League Prize presentation. It turned out to be a superb idea, far superior to presenting the prizes after the last league race, which always went on too long.
The event Simon, his wife Helen and the Colchester Rovers team organised, was quite magnificent and a fitting way to round off the hectic season of racing. The venue was the Colchester Northern Gateway Sports Centre and Cyclepark, the course which had been devised, started on the tarmac, but soon, wound its way onto the grass and made use of every single feature available to the organisers. Plenty of twists and turns, tight 180’s, muddy banks, an off camber traverse, oh and did I mention the foliage and interesting line choices which developed throughout the racing.
The 8 Wheelers had entered the Adult Team Relay and Sam Brook entered the Youths mixed relay, sadly the Ollenbuttel brothers, had already committed to another event, so sadly missed a superb day out.
For the Adult Team race, we had to form teams of 3, but you only had 8 riders I hear you say! Correct, however a call went out and Malcolm Macfarlane and Tony Read were teamed with Peter Hall from the host club for the Seaside, Stephen Brook, Simon Christie and Kevin Burton, made up our A team, Nick Rush, Karl Hale and I the B team.
The race started at 10 o’clock, all of the lead riders were positioned on the start/finish line, whilst the remaining team members waited in our allocated change over area. The excitement was palpable, the support, outstanding, Wheelers had our own fan club in attendance, plus Hugo and off course the waiting team mates, I must say we were all very vociferous and certainly made the most noise across the 3 races, and as almost all of the course was visible from the Changeover, all of the spectators were in the same place, making as much noise as possible.
Stephen Brook was first away for the A’s, Nick Rush got the B’s away and our guest racer Peter Hall led the way for the C’s, it was a fantastic sight seeing all the racers charging down the tarmac start straight onto the grass and into the first corner. It was difficult to know who was in what position, but actually that didn’t matter, it was all about taking part and having a great time with team mates. What we do know is that Stephen handed over to Kevin for the A team in front of Nick handing over to Pete for the B’s and then Peter Hall, passed the ‘Baton’ to Malcolm. No matter where you were in the race, the competition was still superb, riders were literally spread out all over the course, there was always action to see. Our A team finished 11th, they completed 9 laps, so each racer had 3 laps of all out effort, if my information is right, Stephen’s fastest lap was a 5.18, Kevin’s fastest was a 5.01 and Simon posted a 5.00. The Bees were 17th Nick’s best lap was 5.51, Karl’s a 5.29 and Pete a 5.09. For the C side Malcolm rode a 6.04 and Tony a 6.31, they finished in 21st place.
Sam Brook was teamed up with Logan Ayers in the Yoofs race, they would race as a pair, over a very slightly shorter course than the adults, as their race also accommodated the U12 race who were racing in teams of 3.
Sam had 4 very consistent laps, the best of those was a 4.07, he looked smooth the whole way round and he and Logan finished 5th.
Whilst the Yoofs were tearing it up, the adults had to go back to HQ to pick up their new numbers for their second race of the day ! Which was a mixed team relay, drawn at random by the organiser, this was another superb idea, as we all had to find our new team members, who in general we did not know. This made it even more special as, we made friends and cheered for people who we generally only see in passing or in another race, we loved the concept and the racing.
Stephen was in a team who finished 5th, Simon and Kevin, were in the same team and finished 9th, Peter crossed the line in 16th, then came Tony in 21st, Nick was 22nd, Malcolm crossed in 23rd and Karl 27th. But as I said earlier, the winner was the esprit de corps and of course Cyclocross, an absolutely magnificent day out. Roll on the next relays.
Cross hasn’t finished in Europe yet, so there are still a view races to watch on the telebox ! But of course we’ve all started training for next season, haven’t we !