The day was forecasted to be warmer than the seasonal average and they were right – It was 14 degrees and we even had the sun come out after midday. However, Cyclopark is quite exposed and standing on the big hill that gives a great view of most of the course, you can still get chilled to the bone by the infamous wind that always seems to blow here. A great course had been set up by Huw Williams and friends.
This course will be the backbone of the national champ’s course when we return in 6 weeks’ time and what a cracker it is. Fast, technical and fun. After the tarmac finish line straight, we have the tricky approach to the flyover via a right-hand bend off the tarmac and two short grassy banks – Good speed and power are required to get to the top. Then a quick descent leads to the first tricky adverse camber where speed is your friend.
You then ride under the flyover and make you way down several more off-camber banks before the steps section. There are about four steps on loose gravel which can be ridden to stop the shoe plates filling up with gravel, but the penalty for getting it wrong is much more time wasted. The course then crosses the tarmac and approaches [the most fun part of the course] the big adverse camber that is about 50 metres long with a 180 degree turn which is taken via various lines! Another couple of steep banks bring you past the pits before a beautiful zigzag section leads you on a grassy out-and-back.
At the furthest point there is a great little switchback area in the mud, a couple of corners and then the long drag back up to the pits before the sandpit and the two 40cm high planks. After the pits the standout spectator point of the loop is the big hill – Some can ride, most run [everybody hurts], once at the top there is a slow right hand off camber track leading to the last steep descent onto the tarmac for the last 200m charge up to the finish line just under bridge.
Riders met outside the Cyclopark cafe eagerly anticipating the Commisaires whistle, before being gridded according to London League rankings. The whistle blew for the start and immediately Joe Carpenter (Sutton CC/C&N Cycles) and Noah Smith (Team Darenth) led out the pack. Behind them Woody Clayton (Rotor Racing) had made a great start too, followed by the lead girl of Phoebe Potter (Wyndymilla) being chased down by Orla Willis (Panagua CC).
As they entered the second lap, the lead boys looked fairly settled, giving a great demo of how to ride the cambers and mud, whilst the girls fought hard – Phoebe making a mistake to drop behind Orla and then lost second place to Isla Pattinson (Solent Pirates). These were effectively the decisive moves for the podium, the rest of the action being further down the field. The tricky off-camber section was proving the most entertaining spot and even our lead girl struggled here, losing her bike from underneath her, and actually sliding under the tape at one point!
U10 Boys: 1. Noah Smith (Team Darenth), 2. Joe Carpenter (Sutton Cycling Club / C&N Cycles), 3. Woody Clayton (Rotor Racing).
U10 Girls: 1. Orla Willis (Panagua CC), 2. Isla Pattinson (Solent Pirates), 3. Phoebe Potter (Wyndymilla)
20 riders lined up to take the start and as the whistle blew Pete Carpenter (Sutton Cycling Club) had a relatively poor get away finding himself immediately on the wheel of his arch nemesis of many years, Oscar Amey of Team Darenth. The pair began to pull clear, with Will Flatau (Charlotteville Rascals) and lead girl Tulsi Bakrania next up, followed by Theo Sandell (Southborough and District Wheelers).
The great start from Will was soon overhauled by Tulsi and Theo once they hit the mud properly. Beyond the lead four riders, a tight battle was lining up for the second and third spots on the girls podium – Zoe Roche (Sutton Cycling Club/C&N Cycles) led the group, whilst Anna Lloyd (Lee Valley Youth) and Edith Davies (Club Cyclopark) engaged in a close battle behind. Edith took the place on the fourth lap only to lose it again on the fifth and a mistake by Zoe saw Anna pull into the second place spot. The three girls crossed the line in close succession, with Edith unluckily losing out to Zoe for third spot on the podium – great close racing girls!
Further down the field, the tightest battle of the race played out between Molly Jones (Sutton Cycling Club/C&N Cycles) and Lola Arnold (Team Darenth) – once again the off camber was playing a big part with some riders confident to ride looking smooth, those that were chancing it ended up with varying degrees of success, and those that had a very definite running plan cleanly executed lap after lap. Oscar, Peter and Theo looked calm and in control for the whole race and were enjoying the technical features.
U12 Boys: 1. Oscar Amey (Team Darenth), 2. Peter Carpenter (Sutton Cycling Club / C&N Cycles), 3. Theo Sandell (Southborough and District Wheelers).
U12 Girls: 1. Tulsi Bakrania (Team Darenth), 2. Anna Lloyd (Lee Valley Youth), 3. Zoe Roche (Sutton Cycling Club / C&N Cycles).
The youth races were gridded in each category with U16 boys going first with 30 seconds gap between starts. These races got the worst conditions of the day as still quite slippy and mud picking up on their bikes.
Sam McGhee (Sutton CC) led the initial charge up the tarmac finish straight up past the flyover and was then overtaken by Stanley Platts (VCL) and Joe Blackmore (Team Darenth) who led the strung-out field in to the first adverse camber section. Coming up the steep bank, Joe rode with ease, but Stanley slipped and stalled and caused the few riders behind to stop also. Joe was gone, never to be seen again. First lap he was over 30 seconds clear and extended his lead every lap to finish the race 1min 52 secs ahead of 2nd place.
Joe was also the only rider bunny hopping the 2 x 40cm high planks. Luke Prenelle was in 6th place after lap one, but put in a great 2nd lap to finish firmly in 2nd place. There was a bigger battle for the final spot on the podium between Luke Hazel (Team Darenth), Lukas Nerurkar (PPYCC), Isaac Warrington (Solent Pirates) and Sam McGhee. Positions changed regularly until Luke got ahead of the group to claim the last medal. The others all within seconds of each other with the effort of the race clearly etched across their faces.
A clean sweep for Team Darenth! Yani Djelil demonstrated his skill and speed as he led this race from lap 1, he also caught up to 3rd place in the under 16 races by riding past the group fighting it out for 4th place. Alfie Amey rode a solid race in his first year at this category to claim 2nd place and Piers Higginson claimed 3rd place after a race long battle with Daniel Lloyd (Lee Valley Youth CC) that was only decided in the finish line straight as only 1 second apart.
Charlotte McGreevy (Liv AWOL) put in a strong first lap to lead Emily Lines (Team Darenth) by 9 seconds and Amber Junker (Sutton CC) by 23 seconds. Disaster struck for Emily on lap 2 as a mechanical resulted in a long run to the puts to collect her spare bike losing over 5 minutes in the process. All chance of fighting for the win gone but her pit crew were heard instructing her to “Carry on, think of it as training” – She did carry on and worked herself up to collect the Bronze Medal by the end of the race! In the meantime, Charlotte continued to pull away from Amber in 2nd place to win by 2 minutes.
Under 14 Girls
Carys Lloyd (Lee Valley Youth CC) and Phoebe Roche (Sutton CC) came through the finish line on lap together and the prospect of a race long battle looked the order of the day. However, Carys had other ideas and put in a strong second lap to break the elastic. In fact, she was so quick that she would have won the under 16 girls race too. Phoebe settled into a consistent pace to comfortably hold 2nd place from Hope Inglis (Kent Velo Kids) coming home in 3rd place.
After racing to 20th place in the Masters World Champs the day before Jon Lyons (Invicta) looked focussed on the grid alongside his brother Ade who likewise was racing the day before and finished 45th. Paul Neville from C&N Cycles also raced to 53rd in Belgium and all three were in the mix racing up the main tarmac drag to Cyclopark’s highest point. One rider emerged clear of the pack and it was Phil Boarer (GS Vecchi), followed closely by Jez Parsons (Brighton Excelsior) and then Jon Lyons.
Next up was the Guy Pearson who was followed by four Crawley Wheelers – Dougie Fox started well but slipped a few places back as Stuart Evans and Nick Welsh moved up and George Higgs battled with Pearson.
The top three maintained position even though it looked like Jon might move up to 2nd for a while and after the Crawley Wheelers were done battling, Adrian Lyons and Simon Bell rounded out the top 10 places.
The course now had some dry lines starting to appear and it was good to see 23 riders taking to the grid – The Regionals often appear to be a step-up from normal League racing which can put riders off but slowly more and more are taking the plunge.
Delia Beddis (Les Filles) got the fastest start but was still insight of Helen Pattison (Hargroves-Ridley-Montezuma’s) at the end of the first lap – Helen also raced the World Masters Champs the day before in Mol finishing 6th in the 45-49 category. Behind them the Good Vibes Only pair of Clare Ross and Adeline Moreau battled it out for 2nd and 3rd in the Senior category.
Nicky Hughes (Specialized) completed a pretty much perfect race, taking the fastest lap of the V50s on the first lap and controlling the race from then on. Tracy Wilkinson Begg and Alison Ford finished 2nd and 3rd in the V50 category. In the Juniors Alice Davis (Sutton) and Polly Burge (KVG) raced closely to finish 1st and 2nd respectively.
Back in the V40 race Pattison had completely taken control and seemed at home on the slippery off-camber banks of Cyclopark. Caroline Reuter (London Phoenix) and Caroline Goward (Farnborough) had a great battle which was so close I found myself shouting, “go on Caroline” with both accepting the encouragement! Beddis continued to improve her gap throughout the race to win the Senior Regional Championship.
Again, like the Women’s race we desperately need more Junior men, but the grid that turned up wasn’t lacking quality, just quantity. Oliver Howsen (Oldfield/Paul Milnes) stamped his authority on the race from the very beginning and gave everyone a masterclass in racing the Cyclopark circuit – he should be one to watch in the British Champs, held in January. He ended up winning with a monster 3 minute margin.
Behind this a brilliant race developed which was initially headed up by Jack Lear (SDW) and Joe Hawkins (Hargroves) – these two are showing so much skill and look like they’ll only get faster as their strength increases. Sam Bishop from Charlotteville made his way past the pair and looked at one point to be moving up even higher before having to settle for third on the day. Kirshan Bakrania looked like he’d put the troubles of last week’s race behind him to claim a brilliant 2nd pace on the day with a well thought out race – he didn’t panic at the start and made time back on the other riders as the race progressed.
Stuart McGhee was another rider who’d raced in Mol the day before (finishing 31st in the 45-49s) and sets the scene, “on the charge up the hill we were approaching the flyover and James Dear started preparing his gears but luckily a few shouts of, “straight on the road on the first lap” saved us all! After the start loop filter there was a small ditch that that Andy Taylor hit sending him right up in the air, how he and Bill Bell stayed on I will never know”!
Unfortunately for Andy something had broken on his bike and had to run to the pits, allowing Steve Gibson a great 28 second headstart on the first lap. Andy had raced to 29th in the 40-44 category in Belgium the day before and quietly made his way back to 3rd place on the Regional Champs podium by the end of the race.
Bill Bell finished a brilliant 2nd behind Gibson and is really proving his cyclocross credentials this Winter. Mark Perry, James Dear, Paul Sheers, James Waddington, Stuart McGhee, Philip Deacon and Dan Braid rounded out a super strong top ten places – maybe the strongest race and result of the day? Steve never looked in danger and once again we wish all the riders luck in the upcoming National Trophies and National Champs.
The conditions by the start of this race were the best of the day, you could race on dry conditions tyres and no mud picking up at all. From the start line charge, suddenly James Flury (Richardson’s Trek RT) was at a standstill with 2 riders crashing into the back of him. His back wheel had somehow jumped out! He apologised to the riders who had come off fitted his wheel back in and set off on his own to catch the fast disappearing bunch.
Up front Alec Briggs (Tekkerz CC) was setting a fast pace on the start loop and led into the first off-cambers sections whereby he was already starting to open up a gap. He led the field off down the back end of the circuit that meant we could not see how the race was developing. A few minutes later here appearing up the short bank that lead into the pit area and there was clear daylight between him and Michael Butler (GLP RT) in 2nd place.
Alec then approached the big hill for the first time and demonstrated his skill by riding up it, the only rider able to do this. This was starting to look like Alec would simply ride away to the win. However, Michael is a class rider too and does not give up and Alex made a mistake on lap 3 trying to bunny hop the steps section that allowed Michael to bridge back up to the lead. So, it looked like the race may be working towards a last lap battle. However, on lap 6 of 8, Alec had opened up 4 second gap and was piling on the pressure when he suddenly had a mechanical, luckily, he was close the pits and someone lent him a bike, so he could continue.
At the time Michael had shot into the lead so Alec had some work to catch him. This he did do and then he once again put on the pressure to distance Michael and come home the Regional Champion. Michael came home for 2nd after easing off once he realised Alec was gone.
Interestingly the medal positions were decided on lap one. Coming home in an excellent 3rd place to claim the bronze medal was Eddie Davies (Dulwich Paragon) in his first championship ride as senior. He rode a lonely race in third place that was never really challenged by 4th place rider Chris Ansell (Team Corridori) who distanced himself from 5th placed rider, Patrick Hough (Lewes Wanderers CC). James Flury recovered well from his first lap mishap to get up the 6th Place.
All riders continued to ride in as the sun was setting and I’m sure everyone is looking forward the National champs on this course in the next few weeks. Well done everyone at Cyclopark!
Written by and Andy Carpenter and Stuart McGhee
Compiled, written and Edited by Glen Whittington
Photos by Andy Carpenter and Glen Whittington
Video links by John Mullineaux;
Our favourite round of last year’s National Trophy Series was at Cyclopark in Kent. This year we are being treated to a similar (but slightly tweaked) course, not just once at the National Champs, but twice as the course is being tested whilst hosting the South East Region Cyclo-Cross Championships. This event is similar in set-up to any other round of the LDN and SE Cyclocross League races and is a great way to get your lines dialled in for the Nationals or to just enjoy a Sunday’s racing.
Stuart from LCCA says, “This is a fantastic event, venue and course is one of the best. As a bonus the National Champs will be hosted at this venue in January, so a great opportunity learn to course.This race is open to racers that live in the South East Region, this will be printed on your BC race licence. There are regional medals to be won for the top 3 in each category and this is the first time in a number of years that we have promoted this event for our region as a stand-alone event.
Entries close at 11pm on Wednesday 28th November, please note there is no entry on the day.Whilst not a KinesisUK London and South East race we will be using the race timing and number from that series so it could not be any easier.
Please enter and support this event as it is one of the best events of the year.
The event is free for spectators and there will be plenty of food and drinks on offer. For more information about this event please contact our Events department firstname.lastname@example.org 01474 831 400
Don’t forget to send your suggestions in for the Challenge Rider of the Week to email@example.com to win a pair of tyres. And if you take any photos please share them with the hashtag #londonxleague on Instagram or Facebook to be in the running for the cyclephotos.co.uk amateur Photo of the Week which will win Balint’s latest album!
Cyclopark, The Tollgate Wrotham Road, Gravesend, Kent, DA11 7NP.
1000 – U10
1015 – U12
1100 – Youth
1200 – V50 and all Women
1330 – V40 and Junior Male
1430 – Senior