Welsh Cyclocross League Round 3 Aberystwyth
A little bit of overnight rain at Penglais caused slight concerns at the start of the day but once the kids including the U6 yr olds took to the course, the day proved it was going to be a success. Welsh Cycling Race Contributor Iain Farley from Gower Riders took part in Round 3 of the Welsh Cyclocross League held at Aberystwyth, an ‘on the grid’ view of the course and Iains' experience gives us an insight to the day, Thank you Iain.
As a balmy Indian summer week faded to cloud, participants in the Welsh league made their way to a hillside on the outskirts of Aberystwyth. Ystwyth CC had taped out a course that twisted around a large tussock field and rewarded flow of the course over outright power. The terrain was baked hard, but morning showers made the ground slippery for early races. A brisk wind rapidly dried the terrain: dust rather than mud was making things tricky in places by the later races. As always, the kid’s races were well attended and vociferously supported – enhanced by the role of Ystwyth Juniors in organising the days events. Adding to the excitement was the presence of local star Stevie Williams, recently returned from the U23 road world championships in Austria, who presented the podiums for the younger riders.
The first race on the full course was the U14s, U16s and novice women. Opening lap traffic meant a run-up for many on one steep bank but as things settled down there was no need to dismount for the rest of the course and precise cornering ruled the day. The under 16s races were won by Benjamin Bright (Marsh Tracks RT) and Shannon Haird (WWCRT) and the under 14’s by Alfie Davies (A cycling) and Bethany Bennet (Precision Nutrition). Donna Evans won the novice women’s race.
Veterans and women take centre stage
Next up, the veterans and women took centre stage. The complex nature of the course, with its many hairpins and off-cambers, meant the field quickly strung out: within half a lap a string of riders with 1-2 bike lengths between them made the head of the race. The hard and bumpy terrain posed a tyre pressure conundrum: soft for grip or hard for puncture protection? Several miscalculated to their cost, with various punctures being rued post-race. In the 40+ category, Arwel Davies (TRCC) took his first ever win in cyclocross, less than 3 seconds in front of Simon Loose with Fraser white coming in third. Tim Davies (CC Abergavenny / JP Signs & Print) followed up his win in Hereford with another win in the 50+ category. Grant Johnson was once again second for the third week in a row and Tim Hutchinson in third. In the women’s race, Ruby Miller (Hope Factory Racing) won by a lap over Clare Hoskins (Cardiff JIF) in second and Lucy Davies in third. The junior women’s race was won by Eluned King (Towy Riders) with a time only two seconds behind the senior women’s winner.
Juniors and Seniors jostled for position
Last off were the juniors and seniors, whose ranks were swelled by several veterans making the most of their day with a second race. There was much jostling for position in the tight corners of the first half lap, but once again the field strung out as riders engaged in battles with those nearby. The long false flat past the start line sapped energy as riders sought to break free from rivals but the tight corners afterwards gave plenty of recovery opportunity and the corresponding long straight-line descent on the other side of the course provided speeds not often reached in a cyclo-cross race. Nine laps later and Stephen James (Hope factory racing) emerged the convincing victor beating Chris Roberts into second by 2 minutes and taking his second victory of this year’s league; Tyler Brennan rounded out the senior podium. William Harding won the junior men’s race.
The next round, on 7th October, will be the first of three visits to the coastal venue at Pembrey Country Park. Organised by A Cycling, this round is typically fast on the well-drained sandy soil and should be well attended following the Tide to Tide event on the day before.