Once again Irvine Beachpark will witness a flurry of cyclocross activity later this month as the HSBC UK National Trophy Cyclocross series returns for a second year in a row. And also as last year, the venue will be the only Scottish location across the six round series.
Some 300+ riders across the various age groups are expected to compete at the prestigious event being held on October 26th and 27th. The spectacular and challenging nature of the Irvine course means that this is a very popular round – for riders and spectators alike.
The continued growth in participation in competitive cyclocross means that Trophy events are now approaching capacity at many rounds. Places will now be by selection, based on the up to date National Rankings on the closing date of the event, meaning that we can expect to see top quality riders at all levels.
The Irvine course offers a range of technical challenges including uphills, downhills (possible even including the legendary Irvine Big Dipper which gives you both), adverse cambers. And of course sand. Lots of sand. Sand so deep that even the strongest riders are likely to come unstuck from their seats. Sand is, we have learnt, a great leveller – literally. Sand is the factor that makes this course almost unique, and is, strangely, one of the main reasons why it is so popular.
With the weather having been cool but sunny last year, we are of course hoping for something similar again this time round. But then again, Cyclocross is the one discipline where adverse weather is actually a big attraction, as riders slither and slide around the track on frost or mud.
And in addition to the racing there will be several sideshow events including Bigbobblehats. Catering vans will also be on site for the public to cater for your caffeine and cake needs.
So please come along to what should be a fantastic two days. The event is free to the public.
The race schedule is:
Saturday October 26th:
08:30- 09:30 Official Practice
09:35 -10:30 Race 1 Veteran Men 50-59 / 09:3610:31 Veteran Men 60+
10:35 – 11:35 Race 2 Veteran Men 40-491 0:3511:3501:00
11:40 – 12:35 Race 3 Veteran Women
12:40 – 13:40 Official Practice
13:45 – 14:25 Race 4 Youth Girls U16 / 13:46 – 14:26 Youth Girls U14
14:30 – 15:10 Race 5 Youth Boys U14
15:15 – 15:55 Race 6 Youth Boys U16
Sunday October 27th:
09:30 – 11:15 Official Practice
11:20 – 12:20 Race 7 Junior Men
12:25 – 13:10 Official Practice
13:15 – 14:15 Race 8 Senior Women
14:20 – 15:30 Race 9 Senior Men
What IS Cyclocross?
Like triathlon, cyclocross mixes multiple athletic endeavours, namely riding and running, with a strong emphasis on skilful bike handling. The pace, barriers, climate and technical aspects of the course weed out the weak and make for good theatre. Spectators with horns and cowbells provide a festival environment, especially in Europe.
Most races are held on 1km to 3km courses, mixing tarmac, sand, dirt, mud, run-ups and sometimes steps. Races typically last a set timespan – between 30 minutes and an hour – plus a final lap. However, if you’re lapped by the leaders then you have to pull out at the end of that lap to avoid confusion. The pace at the sharp end is unrelenting and brutally fast, and the stop-go nature of the courses and racing means you get an intense workout.
Manmade barriers, usually 18in high, pepper the course, sometimes staggered close enough to force racers to shoulder their bikes or carry them by the top tube. Speed demons with incredible BMX skills have been known to bunnyhop the barriers, much to the chagrin of their fellow racers but awe of the spectators.
There are a few ways to address the barriers, but for efficiency and speed the best way to dismount is to unclip your right foot as you’re approaching the barrier or run-up, swing your leg around the saddle and in between your left foot and the bike. Unclip your left foot as your right strikes the ground, catapulting yourself forward just in time to hop over the barrier or clamber up the hill.
If there are several barriers in a row, it’s sometimes best to shoulder the bike (see why it pays to have the lightest bike you can afford?). Or, if you’re tall and have good upper body strength, carry the bike by the handlebar with your left hand as your right lifts the top tube. Run-ups are always best accomplished by shouldering the bike, and pumping your left arm for momentum.