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.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Rapha SuperCross - The Double Header 19-20th October

The plan had been hatched to do both of the 'Northern' SuperCross races but it would mean missing the Sunday's Yorkshire Points race. I had decided this year not to chase the points races too assiduously as I found last year that I missed out on some good courses/events and it is always a motivator to race on a new course.

Saturday Broughton Hall Skipton

The same venue as last year but the course had been laid out on a different part of the grounds and was far superior. A good mix of flowing grass hillside, a bit of mud, barriers and a beer tent! A tremendous turnout for the 'Belgians and lots of pre-race catching up as well as coffee, beer and crepes/frites to be had. The only slight letdown was the parking and although it was a very pretty walk to the course it was a fair distance especially for riders with young offspring riding in the earlier races. Although we were lucky with the rain there could have been some interesting mud related moments completely unconnected to bikes as people tried to exit the carpark field (memories of the KIMM) ;-)

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Skipton 7
Starting line-up
A front row gridding alongside @crossjunkie and Steve was a pleasant surprise, even more so when I hit the road section 6th wheel! Disaster struck at this point, I had heard my gears jump unexpectedly in the mud section just prior but now as I put the power down there was a horrible crunch and the rear wheel locked up. I hoped off and went to the side to have a look (don't panic - think Sven!) it took a few seconds to realise the rear QR had undone and the rear wheel had been ejected! Miraculously no damage had been done but in the 40 seconds it took to sort I'd probably lost 30 or more places :-(

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Skipton 34
Nick rocking his new tubs

Another battle of a race to move up through the field - thankfully the course was flowing with no real bottle necks so it was a matter of hammering it but avoiding errors. There were also lots of friends/team mates/rivals to chase and pick off on the way which was a great motivator. The slippery corners were a definite aid to the 'tub' equipped - I was running Supermuds  at around 23-24psi and had no issues whereas better riders than me were struggling on clinchers. The bell lap came and I could see Stefan ahead (he'd had a few cornering issues on clinchers) and just piped him coming over the barriers to the finish.

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Skipton 31
Carl hadn't got the memo re Flanders socks and it cost him dear ;-)

Rich Allen 9th
Brent Carr 28th
Paul Nutton 30th
Carl Nelson 36th
Nick Waggett 40th
Rich Brewster 50th
Bruce Attwood 63rd
Andrew Bernard 67th
Alison Crutchley DNF - crashed then got run over by Steve resulting in a broken saddle - Steve did apologise and offer to replace the saddle though :-)

Ricky Feather DNF - wrong tyres Grommit! ;-)

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Skipton 4
Beer and Crepes!
Full photoset here

Sunday Phillips Park Manchester

Literally next door to the Velodrome this was an interesting venue for Jo and I as we used to live just down the road. Jo's house was compulsorily purchased as part of the re-development that gave rise to the velodrome and 'Alan Turing Way' road!

Super easy parking at the velodrome and access to the course were a bonus. The course was another good 'un with a mixture of fast flowing grass sections including the novel 'spiral of doom', technical woodland descent, deep mud and a brutal short sharp tarmac climb. Great to catch up with Duncan the founder (along with Al) of Here Come The Belgians, it's his graphic design that you see on the kit though he has moved on to other projects such as Superouler now. Emma and Ali were there too though Ali had opted not to race (boo!). Bernie was the only other Belgian to race so we were a little thin on the ground - most of the regulars had opted for the Huddersfield Yorkshire Points race. Whilst warming up I bumped into Tony who was keen to join HCTB so perhaps we'll have more of a presence next year ;-) Good to briefly cat up with Mr Haygarth (and his bike hiding hijinx) as well as Al who were both in a spectating supporting role.

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Manchester 26

No gridding but a nice wide starting 'track' meant another lung buster to get somewhere 'up there' and then settle in. The course was continually interesting and varied though I'm not sure about the 'spiral of doom'. It is certainly novel and amusing for spectators but perhaps less so for riders.

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Manchester 36
Entering the 'Spiral of Doom'
For the later half of the race I ended up in a mini battle with Roy Hunt but I faded in the last two laps losing 10-15 seconds to him finishing 8th - one place up from Saturday.

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Manchester 21

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Manchester 18

Rich Allen 8th
Andrew Bernard 48th

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