At some point in the 1990’s I found myself helping to lay out a round of the national downhill series. This was in the days before downhill racing became ultra-gnarly, the early days of effective full suspension bikes. Nevertheless, to find myself riding into the same downhill in a cyclocross race a handful of years later felt rather ludicrous. In hindsight it was. Thankfully we’ll have none of that this year.
What have we got then? Well, a good mix of courses spread through south and mid-Wales.
Welsh Cyclocross Season 2015-16
- 13 September – Calf Burner ‘Cross/1 – Llanishen High School, Cardiff
- 27 September – Cardigan Bay ‘Cross/2 – Penglais, Aberystwyth
- 4 October – Foxley ‘Cross/3 – Mansell Lacy, Hereford
- 11 October – Bike Doctor Dares To ‘Cross/4 – Dare Valley Country Park
- 18 October – Beacons ‘Cross/5 – Penlan Sports Fields, Brecon
- 25 October – Showground ‘Cross/6 – United Counties Showground, Carmarthen
- 1 November – Melin Mynach ‘Cross/7 – Gorseinon, Swansea
- 8 November – Hafren CC ‘Cross/8 – Newtown, Powys
- 22 November – TBC/9
- 29 November – ‘Cross by the Sea/10 – Pembrey Country Park, nr Llanelli
- 13 December – Christmas ‘Cross/11 – Mountain View Ranch, Caerphilly Mountain
- 20 December – ‘Cross in the Garden/Final/12 – National Botanic Garden of Wales
There are a few courses, which are new to me, but I have some personal notes about the others.
- Foxley is a lovely, tricksy wooded course. A stand-out point would be the muddy stream crossings that some racers struggled with – ‘struggled’ as in ‘fell into’.
- Dare Valley has a choice of courses, from grassy to rocky, hilly or not, and has been a venue for many a year.
- Brecon is a stereotypical, ‘round the playing fields’ cross course. It normally seems to drain well and is a proper ‘power’ course. I love it. For ten minutes anyway.
- Melin Mynach is my local race. Twice I’ve raced here, twice the weather has been Welsh, and the course became a proper wintry fight against the mud. The sort where you pedal as hard as you can downhill while somebody walks past you.
- Pembrey is a fast, well-drained course in a sandy country park next to the beach. Adventure playgrounds, toboggans, cafes, WW2 archaeology and ‘cross racing. A perfect winter’s daytrip for the family, surely?
- The penultimate round on Caerphilly Mountain is my nemesis. I had problems with my left cleat last year, which meant I ran two full laps with one shoe on, one shoe off. Typhoon conditions had hit Wales so my over-riding memory is of cold mud squelching through my sock and lots of muffled swearing from those still on their bikes while being pelted by horizontal rain. ‘Cross bliss!
At least seven of the above events need to be ridden to qualify for a league position. Full details on cyclocrosswales.co.uk.
So, time to plan your autumn, free up those Sundays from more trivial commitments and get training.
Photos by Nick Parker and Felicity Parker.