CX, Cyclocross

NEC Cycle Show

Elite Women | Cycle Show CX, Birmingham NEC | 28th September 2014

This is a pretty lengthy story of my adventures at the Cycle Show. You might want to skip straight to the actual event and report of my race. The results are at the very bottom of the page.

Getting there

Getting to the NEC from Exeter by train is actually quite simple… if you don’t have a bike. If the trains run on time. If you’re happy to spend a lot of money and use your weekend travelling…

But I should look on the bright side. I got a seat all the way to Birmingham New Street. The train was initially running 15 minutes late but was only 10 minutes behind time when I arrived in Brum. A short run around to the opposite end of the station (due to building works closing off the direct access) and a ticket man refusing to let me go without showing every single part of my ticket (even though I wasn’t leaving the station) I got to the correct platform in time to make my connection.

My family live in Northamptonshire, around an hour from Birmingham, so I elected to spend Saturday night there, before making the short journey from Northampton to Birmingham International the next morning.

Sunday morning didn’t go so well. My back brake had developed a mysterious rub. The first train of the morning (and the only one that would get me to BHI in time for Sign-on – and then only giving me 20 minutes to make it from platform to race HQ) was delayed by 15 minutes before it even left the station. Once arriving in BHI (and despite pretty thorough planning as I knew time would be tight) I really struggled to make my way to the right car park and Gate to the race HQ. (By the way the NEC is massive and the Cycleshow is in the furthest end possible from the train station!)

Fortunately some friendly security guys helped me find my way and let me ride through an empty hall to get into the right car park. I was soon signed on, race number pinned and riding a few laps of the car park to release the adrenaline of my journey.

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The Race

The Cycle Show is one the biggest national bicycle shows in the UK and draws crowds of over 25.5k. This year, perhaps in reflection of the U.S.’ Interbike Cross Vegas international season opener, the Cycle Show put on a cyclocross race for the first time.

The course

The Cycleshow CX course was short and twisty. It could be divided into three sections; first the course swooped through the smooth Tarmac carparks, transitioning with a slight bump into the second section: indoors. The race continued through the NEC open and fast, with a tight u-turn on slippery indoor flooring (made worse by dust brought in by the racers) before a fast turn past the crowds where a mud feature had been built with two kickers. A short transition back through the carparks led the racers into a dry wooded section featuring dusty berms, sneaky tree stumps, a log obstacle along with some stoney patches that kept riders on their toes.

Industry race

First up was the industry race with a mixed field of ages and genders as bike industry insiders fought a short but aggressive battle. Claire Beaumont (Vicious Velo) raced not only in this race but also in the Elite Women’s event 10 minutes later.

Women’s race

After a few minutes to sight the course after the industry race finished the women were called up to the start line. Our enthusiastic commentator introduced each rider to the crowd as she was called forward to the grid with rounds of applause. A rolling start as the whistle was blown and then we were off!

Annie Simpson (Hope Factory Racing), Louise Mahe (Mule Bar Girls – Sigma Sport), Adela Carter (Hope Factory Racing), Abi van Twisk along with a couple others were away immediately, quickly gaining space on those of us further back in the grid. With the course being almost like a criterium (but with added obstacles!) being at the front would be essential to maintain speed through the corners and once again in the single-track wooded section to make sure you weren’t held up by a slower rider.

I personally found the dry conditions of the wood quite difficult – I don’t have much experience of dusty, loose ground and it took me most of the race to get comfortable with race pace around this section. (By which time I was far behind the leaders.) Up ahead there was a fierce battle raging, with the top five places being hotly contested. Annie was initially up in the lead but had an unfortunate meeting with a tree stump that put her down to fifth. Midway, Louise had a significant lead over her chasers but a final strong push from Annie in the last laps saw her bring herself and Abi up to contend the final sprint.

Annie won for Hope Factory Racing with Louise Mahe taking second for Mule Bar Girls. Abi van Twisk was the first placed junior and took third overall.

You can skip to the (provisional) results below.

Rachel Fenton has written an amusing summary of the event here that’s worth checking out.

Hopefully I will have some race photos soon – in the meantime Larry Hickmott has some here.

Men’s race

In a stacked men’s race current national champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles -Ridley RT) was victorious in his first race of the season, seeing off challenges from Jody Crawforth (Hargroves Cycles – Ridley RT), Matthieu Boulo (Team Raleigh GAC) and Ben Summer (Beeline Bicycles)

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Apres race

img_1971 After the end of my race I made my way to the other side of the barriers and into the show proper. I was impressed by the show security and was repeatedly checked by security (if you bring a bike in or out of the show you have to go through the organisers office and must wear a matching wrist band which has the same serial number as the one they attach to your bike) but it did mean I missed watching most of the men’s race.

For some reason Ordnance Survey had a camera set up on a fake Tour podium and I couldn’t resist the chance to get a photo (see above). I had a giggle. The podium did come into its own later for the prize giving ceremonies.

Trek

From my time working at Cyclefit and coordinating Trek Factory Racing/Precision Fit type things I know some of the guys at Trek quite well so I made a beeline for their stand to catch up.

I spent some time with Jez who showed me Bontrager’s new women’s saddle – we set the fit bike up and I had a pedal. We also tried a MTB saddle that Tracey Mosely prefers but the women’s road saddle (which features a cut-out) won. It felt the most comfortable and gebioMized pressure mapping also indicated this was the better saddle for me. I just need to find out what the saddle was called and get one now!

Jens Voigt was also on the Trek stand and there was a very long queue waiting for him! Sadly I missed the signing session so had to make do with a #spyshot of him from afar!

Prize giving

People often go home before the podium ceremonies but I think, if you can, it’s nice to stay and congratulate your fellow competitors.

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Here are Annie Simpson (elite women’s winner) and her boyfriend Ian Field (elite men’s winner).

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Journey Home

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With this many people trying to get onto one train I could tell the journey was not going to be particularly outstanding. A lot of luggage. Three other cyclists. Bad from the off.
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I spent the first three hours of the journey sitting in the luggage rack. People were shocked and disgruntled. I just knew that the train always empties out once you’re past Bristol, so you just have to be patient for the first three hours….

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Results

1 Annabel Simpson Hope Factory Racing
2 Louise Mahe Team Mulebar Girl – Sigma Sport
3 Abigail Van Twisk WXC World Racing
4 Adela Carter Hope Factory Racing
5 Diane Lee Team Mulebar Girl – Sigma Sport
6 Sarah Murray http://www.cxmagazine.com
7 Kate George Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com
8 Ruby Miller Hargroves Cycles – Ridley RT
9 Rachel Fenton Trek Bicycle Coventry
10 Tracey Fletcher Team Empella Cyclo-Cross.Com
11 Joanne Newstead XRT – Elmy Cycles
12 Alice Miller Look Mum No Hands!
13 Rebecca Keogh Solihull CC
14 Sarah Naylor Fossa Racing
15 Laura McCormack Cult Racing
DNF Claire Beaumont ViCiOUS VELO

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