Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Rapha Super Cross
I don't think you can have a truly bad day at Brockhole, a bad race maybe but a bad day no. This was my third outing here having ridden the first event in 2009 which was a sticky mud bath of epic proportions and the North of England Championship last year where deep snow resulted in the vets lining up in sub zero temperatures with bikes shouldered to run the initial 250 yards!
This years event was 'soft' going but not the mud fest a few of us were expecting. Rhinos had been duly glued up during the week and Jo and I spent Friday night at the FRCC hut in Langdale in order to ease the early start on Saturday. Our early arrival allowed a chilled out reconnoitre of the course (similar to last year, no big logs up by the house but a much muddier technical descent) and a second coffee of the morning together shared in glorious sunshine and rapidly warming temperatures. Soon we were meeting up with @crossjunkie (riding in Rapha Candy stripes), @sportsartuk, @ckingimages @DaveHaygarth and a host of other friends including Waggey and Mandy who had made the journey up from York. The supply of Rouler Cowbells were rapidly exhausted with a corresponding increase in spectator noise and soon the kids races were off including Elsie Haygarth racing to victory in the under fours now enshrined in pixels on the Rapha website. The atmosphere was fantastic - great to see what an injection of media/marketing savvy cash and enthusiasm can do allied to the grass roots graft of local clubs so a big thank you to Rapha, Rouler and the Lakes Road Club.
Soon enough it was time for the massive Seniors, Vets and Women's field to line up (140 plus). Al managed to sneak a couple of bike lengths on me before we even started and I spent a few laps getting back on terms. The rest of the race was thoroughly enjoyable, yes it is a technical course and yes it was muddy (not too much) and rooty but it is cyclocross and courses like Brockhole typify an 'old school' Northern course that should be cherished. I had a wonderfully problem free race and the excellent clearances on the Van Dessel G&T meant I didn't even use my pit bike. Others weren't so lucky and Waggey ended up abandoning with terminal clogging around his front fork which was a shame but allowed him to save his legs for Sunday - a cunning move? Check out the great photo of @crossjunkie over on @ckingimages Flickr stream. Once we crossed the line it was off for a quick change and on to the Duvel beer tent which had already claimed its first victim with one of HCtB favourite pro photographers missing the start of the Elite race - ahem, no names no pack drill... Being able to watch the elite field tackle the same course we'd just riden was the icing on the cake and made made it possible to pick up lots of pointers to improvement; get faster, get stronger, improve uphill remounts, improve technical skills... errr the list got a bit long! Mechanicals played a role in the elite event too with both Paul Oldham and Jody Crwaford (joint favourites) being affected with Lee Williams turning out the eventual winner. The weather helped enormously in creating a festival atmosphere which is hopefully a pointer to future 'SuperCross' style events in the UK.
New College Huddersfield
Some rapid bike washing and prep, some epic kit washing from @Hanglebad (thanks love) and we were ready to roll for day two in Huddersfield. A very different course, more 'euro' grass crit with some steep bankings so a great compliment/contrast to Brockhole.
Again a big thank you to Rapha, Rouler and Huddersfield Road Club for a fantastic event including Tour legend Brian Robinson and Marsden brass band! The Rouler Cowbells had been replenished and like a big kid I asked @Hanglebad to nab me one. Again we were treated to a Duvel beer tent, crepes, Rapha mobile shop and coffee, trade tents, coconut shy - did I mention the beer? The course was fast and almost dry which meant no rest or let up. Another massive field, 140 plus of just Vets and Women this time! The second day of racing left my legs a little lacking (that's my excuse) and though I got a relatively decent start I couldn't close the gap on Wayne. Waggey had a very good race getting to within 25 seconds of Al at the finish, that clogging excuse was obviously a ruse to save his legs for another PB. Another quick change and off to get a Duvel (to aid recovery and with Jo driving I could have a couple) and watch and heckle the seniors race with Tim (looking very strong) and Tom representing Velocake. Thanks to (Flemish) Nicole and John we now know that Duvel is pronounced Der-vel (Devil) and that its a not a lager - something she felt announcer Anthony McCrossan needed to be made aware of as soon as the elite race finished! Jody Crawford won a close fought sprint with Paul Oldham with Hope Technology securing their series lead in this team based format.
A totally brilliant weekend bringing a little Euro/Belgian/US flavour to the UK!