August and September saw a four-week evening cyclo cross series for the first time in South London, expanding on the Go-Cross events held at Herne Hill Velodrome on previous years and introducing a new venue at the Bethlam Royal Hospital.
Under the co-ordination of Shaun and Jason of VC Londres, six clubs came together to run the events. The demographic of clubs running the events echoed the demographic of riders. Clubs like Addiscombe CC ,VC Londres and Vicious Velo are used to running cyclo cross events, while for Penge CC, Bigfoot Go Ride and Dulwich Paragon this was their first open cyclo cross race for a number of years, if not ever!
Likewise the series was aimed not only as a warm up into the winter cyclo cross season for regular racers, it also served as a great entry level races for first time racers, young and old.
Many months before the series was due to start work was already underway on getting the new venue at the Bethlam Royal Hospital ready. Local cyclo cross riders came down to cut new paths and add features – a great showing of community and pro-active racers.
Bethlam wasn’t the only venue to get a makeover the “Primus Steps” were added to Herne Hill, which seems to have a new feature added each year. The two venues were varied; Herne Hill with its twisty technical sections, steep banks and grass section. Bethlam had fast flowing wooded sections, log obstacles and a leg-sapping grassy climb.
Each week was split into three categories, U12, Youth and Senior. At the top of each category were familiar names used to racing the winter-long London League. Further down the rankings (not necessarily too far down) were newer riders, taking on cyclo-cross for the first time.
Challange Tires representative Jamie Newell won the first round, while Matt Webber dominantly won rounds 2, 3 and 4. Philip Glowinski, Jack Finch, Peter Mollison and Jules Birks were also regularly featuring at the top of the results.
Rachel Fenton was dominant in the Women’s category, though a mechanical forced her to DNF in the final round. National Champion Dan Tullet was dominant in the first 3 rounds of the Youth races. Sam Titmarsh won the 4th round. Dan Tullet, like his brother also won the first 3 rounds of the U12 league, while Noah Carlton won round 4. Thomas Gloag was egularly close behind.
Special mentions go to some of the newer and novice riders. In the U12s Ifran Zaman and George Harding from round three co-hosts Bigfoot Go-Ride and Penge CC performed strongly in their first open races. Max Cheatle more used to turning left on the track did very well in his first cyclo cross races, and indeed first races as a Youth. Helena Callow came to every round as the only female senior novice with around 15 first time male riders tackling the courses every week.
Overall prizes were to be awarded to the highest placed riders from all four rounds. The final round saw Jack Finch and Philip Glowinski starting just one point apart, with Jules Birks comfortable in third. The overall title depending on this final race. Cyclo-cross’ unpredictable nature would strike them both. Firstly Philip rolled a tub and had to let Jack escape while fitting it back on. Then, in the closing stages of the race, Jack punctured and had to run the final few hundred meters to the line. A very entertaining battle for the top. The top 3 were awarded cash, while Jack also received a framed limited edition Rich Mich print of Mario Chippolini. Everyone was a winner at the final round however, with free beer (soft drinks for the kids) and sweets for all.
Thanks go to the very generous sponsors. Challenge Tires who awarded a pair of their top quality open tubulars to every senior winner. Sigma Sport who gave vouchers to the top senior riders and goody bags of bottles, socks and other accessories to the novice and youth riders. Ana Nicoola gave women-specific armwarmers and gloves to the female winners. Morvelo supplied T Shirts for the spot prizes and primes. Also thanks to all the promoting clubs and their volunteers, the judges and officials (both the regular judges and those officiating for the first time), photographers and of course, the riders!
The series was a fresh take on a cyclo-cross race series. The races were organised by riders for riders. Riders gave up a nights racing to organise the racing for their peers. The vast majority of this series’ organisers raced at some point throughout the four weeks of racing. This is rider organised racing! We hope it will be an increasing trend.
The series has raised money which is going to be set aside for cyclo-cross development in the South London area. VC Londres encourage any clubs wishing to develop a new course or add to an existing course to get in contact (through the UKCycleSport or VC Londres websites). We may be able to lend equipment, allocate funds and even include a new course in next year’s league.
Enjoy the winter cyclo-cross season which is just starting now. The series will be back a few weeks earlier next year in August 2013!