Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Otley Dirtwheels CX

A new event organised by the loveably grumpy (its all an act I'm sure) Nick Elder and the Dirtwheels team in my hometown of Otley. I'd had a little sneak preview way back in September when Nick, Marie, Delia, Terry and myself went out for a 3 Peaks training ride and Nick took us round the course he was envisioning. I must confess I thought it only looked 'OK' back then but there again we couldn't ride the sections through the wooded banking and it can be difficult to grasp someones else's mental picture of a course. Come race day and what a difference!
Laura powers the steep climb
What makes a good cross course? I'm not sure that I could describe it but there are certain elements that help. Firstly a variety of terrain and ground conditions with hills, banking, off-camber corners and mud in as many varieties as possible. There also needs to be a selection of obstacles that have the potential to force you off the bike, barriers, deep mud, steep hills, sand and so on. The layout needs to be spectator friendly, you should be able to easily access several vantage points to witness rider's skills or distress. Add to all this a slick organisation and a PA playing a bit of Punk for us over 40s and you have the perfect set up.
Nick pre puncture
Nick's course had all this, well apart from the sand and I'm sure he can sort that for next year, perhaps a flyover and steps too? I've seen his decking he's right handy with that wood and nails business. My favourite part of the course was at the far (eastern) end where there was some proper @crossjunkie Grade 7 Glop (gloop?) where you could power through the mud letting the bike find its own line euro cross style. Everyone I spoke to loved the course (not sure about one or two of the seniors who lost rear mechs!) and it definitely ranks up there as one of the best Yorkshire courses. It was noticeable after the vets race the number of people who stayed around for the seniors which is a good indicator that people were enjoying it - the sunshine doubtless helped a bit. So well done again Nick and team.
Must. Learn. To. Bunny-hop

As for the race Wayne and I made a bit of a schoolboy error at the start by not checking out the ground and ended up on the right with the 'soft' going. When the siren went the left hand riders seemed to have an extra 100W of power and we were pedalling through treacle! By the end of the second lap I'd managed to regain the lost places and finished a pleasing 7th. I'll update all 'Belgian results when they go up, Nick unfortunately had a puncture induced DNF and Laura got the better of John but beyond that we'll have to wait. BTW Laura, leg warmers  for a race - what would your mother say have you not heard of 'Belgian Knee Warmers' - break out the embrocation?! No photos from Jo as she was off down to Bristol  but I've pinched a few from Jonathan (thanks Jonathan J).

Addendum John finished 69th and Laura 62nd and 4th lady - a return to form. It has also been brought to my attention that Laura didn't wear legwarmers to race in as the opening photo is from a warm up lap so I'll just re-direct the fashion faux pas advice to John who most definitely did wear knee warmers but given the state of his arm warmers he's probably beyond hope ;-)
John on a slick and trick-some corner

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