West Stow Cross Sunday 17th December

Stephen BrookCyclo Cross, News

This cyclocross report comes directly from Peter Golding, organiser of Round 10 of the Eastern Cyclocross League, and the West Suffolk Wheelers’ home event

I’ve finally found the energy to sit down and write about the West Stow Cross !

The event at West Stow Country Park, is probably one of the most anticipated races in the Easterncross League calendar and one which we the West Suffolk Wheelers are proud to host.

Preparations for this years event began in the summer, when a group of us began cutting a new track, to enable the steps to be included during a Clockwise circuit and a new swathe cut at the top of the mound to improve the flow of the start lap. Then in the late autumn once the Hogweed had begun to die back, another section of track was forged through a small spiny and one more short section was added to give a new feature near the car park and we were almost there !

In the week leading up to the event, we were out with mowers, loppers and chain saws, to widen the single track to 3 meters and to ensure that there were no overhanging branches, having a tree come down across the new track in the spiny was an unexpected but necessary chore to remove, thanks to Tony Read. Wooden posts and netting were put in place during Friday, in preparation for a full days course marking and taping on Saturday, a few bits of tidying up very early on Sunday morning and we were set.

None of this could have been done without the help of club members, there were a dedicated group of 3 who did all the ground work on the track, who were bolstered in the days leading up to the event by an ever expanding band of volunteers. On the day of the races the club came out in force to ensure that we put on the best course the league has seen this season. So a huge thank you to everyone that was involved, to ensure that West Suffolk Wheelers once again put on an event to be really proud off, you were magnificent.

The winner on Sunday the 17th of December, was Cyclocross, the weather helped of course, but the course coupled with ‘Wheelers’ Marshals’ enthusiasm truly made the day. The accolades which have been directed to the club from far and wide have been wonderful, all pointing out that the event was a rip, roaring success.

A quote from Alan French who was one of the Commissaire’s he said “I would just like to congratulate WSW on their event on Sunday, a well organised event like that makes it easy for the Commissaire team and thanks for looking after us so well.”

Of course there where Wheelers racing too and all of those, put in a full shift Marshalling on the day and some of those a full day on Saturday too, so all credit to how well they raced on the day.

And so to the racing, as usual the Ollenbuttel boys were first off at 9.30 in the Under 10 race, they were treated to a multi lap course centred around the pits and included the hurdles, the off camber and the twists and turns in the spinney.

The boys are so enthusiastic and this shows in their results, James was first home in 8th and Samuel 14th of the 28 starters, thank you for representing the Club.

Sam Brook had a problem at the start and was way back in the field from his usual position at the front, he did remarkably well to claw his way back to 9th of the 26 on the grid by the finish.

The V50 race had the largest single field, there were 68 lining up on the grid for the cavalry charge up the start straight, with so many of them arriving at the spiny after a minute of racing we could see that we will have to make changes to the first corner for next time to avoid as much congestion. Matt Denny was first back in 42nd place, followed by Shaun Woodley in 57th, Shaun had been at the track for a full day on Saturday and was first there on Sunday, Chapeau Shaun and thank you for all your help, sorry for the lack of cheering, Ady Grimwood was almost the Lantern Rouge in Maglia Rosso Kit, but always smiling.

The combined V40/60 start grid was the largest of the day, a fantastic sight to see 82 riders lined up on the grid by the prow of the Viking Longship, 53 V40’s and 29 V60’s. Simon Christie and Stephen Brook were in the first wave of the V40 released up the hill, a minute later the V60’s started led up the hill by Paul Watson, a fantastic sight. He was followed by the fast starting Nick Rush then Malcolm Macfarlane, Will Tate, Tony Read and Paul Chapman, Tony had also given many hours to ensuring we were race ready over the previous3 days. On one of the laps Stephen Brook showed how not to take the logs, when he was upended and over the bars at the first one, Paul Chapman was not to be out done and had a spectacular over the bars, at the hurdles. Simon Christie had one of his best results cheered on by the partisan crowd, clearly enjoying the whole occasion for 21st V40, and Stephen Brook gamely battled on after his somersault for 37th. Paul Watson had a fantastic race long battle with Simon Hime for second place, recording the same time finish time, but loosing out by a wheel for 3rd, it was thrilling to watch. Malcom Macfarlane only decided to ride the day before, when he realised just how good our course is and he was rewarded with a brilliant 14th place. Nick Rush had a really good ride against a stacked field finishing 17th, Will Tate was next home in 22nd, like Paul, Tony Read had a thrilling race against the experienced Terry Whalley, eventually crossing the line in 25th and Paul Chapman despite his epic crash was not last, which was remarkable.

Then came the Ladies in their combined race Megan Free rode really well after a slow start, picking riders of the whole way to finish 11th overall and 5th Senior from a big Ladies field of 31 riders.

Finally Harley Gregory was in scintillating form, and raced really well in a battle for 8th place, just losing out in the final 2 laps of the 8 lap race to finish a fantastic 11th and 2nd Junior.

So as I said at the beginning, Cyclocross was the winner, but a huge thanks to Karl Hale and Nick Rush who both made massive contributions to ensure the event went without a hitch and of course Giles Prime, who had put all of the foundations in place during the last 5 years of being at West Stow.

No racing now until the New Year, the 6th/7th January is the National Trophy weekend at Tong near Bradford, also on the 7th is around 11 of the Eastern League, at the time of writing it’s not know where that will be, but rumour suggests the Old Buckenham campsite again.

Watch this space.

Apologise to those who I failed to capture on the phone, I was busy !!