British Cyclo-Cross National Championships 2019

Last weekend, I headed down to the Cyclopark in Gravesend to see the British National Cyclo-cross Championships. These are held annually and the winner gets to wear their national flag on their jersey for a year (unless they go on to win the World Championships of course). The event was taking place at the Cyclopark, somewhere I’d never been to before. Essentially it’s a strip of land with lots of cycling facilities on it, including a BMX track and a long road loop. Allied to all of this are changing facilities and a café.

For the Nationals, the course was designed in such a way that there were a few places where you could see a good chunk of the action. I spent my time wandering between several of these points. When you factor in the 30 minute walk from the station, my smartwatch tells me I walked about 18km on Sunday.

I arrived just in time to see Harriet Harden defend her title in the womens’ junior race, while Ben Tulett (in the World Champions’ jersey) easily won the men’s race.

The U23 and Elite races were run together, with Nikki Brammier winning overall. She was having a tough contest with Anna Kay (who is an U23 rider), until Kay’s bike suffered a mechanical and she had to run/freewheel to the pits to get a replacement. That left Brammier with an imposing lead. Meanwhile, Helen Wyman caught up with Kay and they fought it out until the end when Kay just got away from Wyman to pick up second.

In the men’s race, it was complete and utter domination from Tom Pidcock. He got away very early on, and extended his lead lap after lap. Unfortunately for other riders the “80% rule” was in place. This meant that if you weren’t getting lap-times within 80% of the leading lap-time, you get eliminated. In other words, anyone in danger of being lapped is pulled from the race. It’s in operation to avoid much slower riders being lapped – perhaps repeatedly. Over-taking isn’t easy in cyclo-cross, and with a title on the line, being slowed up by lapped riders is seen as unfair.

But the result of employing the 80% rules was that with over 100 starters, only 11 riders actually finished on the same lap as Pidcock by the end who was over a minute clear at the end and managed to do a “superman” as he crossed the line.

Anyway, I took lots of photos there – the main reason for going. A few are below, and the rest can be seen over on Flickr.

Cyclo Cross World Cup – Part 2 – Men’s Race

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-62

As well as photos of the women’s race I also took photos of the men’s race, the weekend before last in Milton Keynes.

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-49

Cyclo cross seems to have had something of a resurgence in the UK over the last few years. But then again, so has cycling in general. I’ve been going to the Rapha Supercross races, which are handily close to me, for the last few years (sadly I missed this year’s race).

And I keep looking at “CX” bikes as the next bike I buy (subject to the Rule 12 formula, where the correct number of bikes to own is n+1, where n is the number of bikes I own currently). I don’t think I could hack around the mud non-stop for 45 mins – an hour, but a CX bike might allow me some off-road fun, form the basis of a commuter, and allow panniers for touring (I should also mention that I currently have both a mountain bike for off-roading, and a converted mountain bike for touring).

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-69

But I was thinking back to the first time I saw cyclo cross, and I remembered being taken by my father to watch a race at Forty Hall in Enfield back in 1981. I know that it was quite a big race, and the grounds of the house are quite large – with plenty of space to run such a race. Later, the same grounds would be where my school had cross-country runs.

I can’t say I remember a great deal about the day, except that the course went through a stream, which any 11 year old boy thought sounded fun.

A bit of Googling suggests that the race I was watching was this race. It was won by Chris Wreghitt, who was five-times national British Cyclo Cross champion at the time.

I’m not quite sure what the race’s standing was, but I’m pretty certain that it wasn’t the national championship, since the runner-up was Belgian. That also suggests that it had an international field, and placing the race in the south of England made it easier for competitors from cyclo cross’s homeland to and from the site relatively easily.

I also think I saw a young Malcolm Elliott that day – I think I may have collected his autograph! I may be making this up though. I definitely collected someone’s autograph.

Here are some more photos, with plenty more on Flickr.

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-35

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-23

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-1

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Men-48

Cyclo Cross World Cup – Milton Keynes 2014 – Part 1

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Women-19

Over the weekend, it was the Milton Keynes round of the UCI’s Cyclo Cross World Cup. It’s the first time a round of this event has taken place outside mainland Europe. So definitely worth a 30 minute train ride up to see it! The event took place on a specially built course in Campbell Park, the park to the north of the town centre.

Here’s what you need to know – although the weekend’s events took place in the dry, it had certainly been raining there recently. This was serious mud.

The park is naturally hilly, and the course went up and down parts of it, with the expected sections where you have to carry your bike. But some flat sections were also so muddy, you had to carry your bike.

You can read more about the races here, but needless to say, I took a lot of photos. You can some of the photos from the womens’ race here, and the rest on Flickr. The mens’ race is to follow.

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Women-23

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Women-24

CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Women-7

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CXWC Milton Keynes 2014 Women-49