This is a tale of hosting a race more than racing one. Partly because the Alba CX team and their helpers spent most of the day ensuring a great start to the season, and partly because intimate aquaintance with the course didn't prevent me having to stop and unwrap the edge tape from my handlebars on the second bend...
Seven o'clock in the morning on Sunday the 3rd September: A hardy bunch of volunteers meet in the carpark of the new Leeds Urban Bike Park ready to take orders from Finn and Gate, masters of operations. Six hundred stakes and several miles of tape were handed round and three hours later a fabulous, fast course was laid out ready for the races to begin.
While the finishing touches were being made to the course, sign on had started up; a non-stop task that was especially important for the first race of the year. Special volunteering mentions go to Sam (who never even got to see a single race as he was holed up managing sign on all day) Alison and Jenni from Alba, and Carol and Mandy the commissaires for their slick operation on what is truly the thankless task of any race event.
Racing started with the U8s and continued throughout the day with the Ladies, Vets and Novices rounding off proceedings. Over the course of the day over 400 competitors took part, with many complimenting the quality of the course and the organisation. More special thanks goes to the members of the CX team that volunteered to marshall throughout, which enabled eight of the team to race in their various categories.
Mixed success was had by the team with Sam, our youngest racer on the day suffering repeated mechanicals and having to withdraw - a shame as he was looking strong. The seniors raced hard; Mike returning strong from a season's break and pipping Ian N to the post as highest placed Alba, with Ian F not far behind. In the vets and ladies event Richard and David rode a hard race together, with Richard taking advantage of his newly installed pit crew for a bike change. Jenni and I had a successful first race of the season, even if a (lack of) tactical awareness meant I went round for an extra lap having crossed the finish line seconds ahead of the winner1.
We couldn't have put this race on without all the volunteers that stepped up to help out, and that's not even including the commissaires team that turn up week in week out to keep the whole series on track (thank you). I'm not going to try and name everyone that helped out as there are too many to mention. Instead, I'll let one of the competitors feedback comments sum it up:
"Great 1st round today, from the smooth sign on to the enjoyable course thanks to everyone involved."
Overall the day was a great start to the new season for the club both in racing and organising terms. The CX team is growing every season and we're a really friendly bunch, so if you love racing hard and racing interesting come and get stuck in2.
Sam looking strong before the mechanicals (credit: J. Waterhouse)
Richard approaching the hurdle (credit: J. Waterhouse)
Start of the ladies race (credit: J.Allen - click on the link to see a wonderful set of albums of CX racing in all seasons)
If you're reading this and you're new to CX that won't make sense. CX is raced on offroad circuits, with various obstacles thrown in around the course. Races are a minimum time, with the number of laps determined by the lap times of the leading riders. The winner is the first person to complete the required number of laps. Everyone else's race ends when they cross the finish line after the winner. Places are determined first by the number of laps completed and then time taken. ↩
I take no reponsibility for any n + 1, mechanicals, or new love of endlessly dicussing the minutiae of tyre treads and pressures that could arise from taking us up on this invitation. ↩