Cyclocross – it’s muddy, tough, it’ll wreck your bike and your stamina at some point. A good friend of mine who’s ridden and completed the Tour de France 3x, once told me that cyclocross is a great discipline to ride, as it increases your handling skills and improves your peripheral vision, which is critical in the peloton with so many riders in such a tight bunch.
Cyclocross season has passed and the muddy courses can be left to re-seed and recover, whilst the riders can get ready for the roads. One of the last events of the season here in the north of England was the Nova Cross at historic Knaresborough, organised by Steve Smales and partner Heather Thompson. This altruistic rider and British Cycling Commissaire has boundless energy and gives so much back to cycling, whilst Heather also coaches the youngsters locally and still finds time to compete at national team level for triathlon. It felt right then to support these two great people, and so with the help of our friends at Vitamina C PR in Italy managed to get some great prizes for the younger riders, with Pirelli and Camelbak providing the prizes.
With Steve being friend and long term colleague, I volunteered my services as a Marshall for the day; and so wrapped up warm thanks to GripGrab and North Face, I headed to Conningham Hall at historic Knaresborough, armed with prizes from our Italian friends.
Hopefully the racers today wouldn’t need actual CPR, but cyclocross is a tough sport …
The youngsters came from historic clubs like Huddersfield, Shibden and from the Bronte country; renowned Paul Milne Cycles sent a team, putting everyone on notice that this was a serious event – this small Yorkshire team continues to produce a plethora of national and international champions.
Thankfully the weather was kind, but the recent rain meant that the course at Conningham Hall was soon ripped up, with so many riders taking to the task. The field loop was flat and fast, but the obstacles came thick and fast, with steep and slippery climbs and tight and twisty descents among the trees.
Harrogate Nova is a super grassroots club, with a keen focus bringing on young riders; and so it was good to see one of their own on the podium. Otley performed as expected, being one the top clubs in the country and having Lizzie Deignan as a member and honorary president, the young riders are super talented and super keen to emulate this locally born world cycling star.
When you see the ability of these young riders, their tenacity and skills in this most gruelling of cycling sports, and yet they all had time to smile at the finish. The prizes of Camelbak packs and Pirelli tyres were certainly well earned and well received, helping to enthuse and encourage this future stars of our sport.
All to often the younger generation get a bad press, and yet here in cold and damp North Yorkshire the young riders revelled in the cold and slippery conditions, with not a computer game I’m sight and with nobody hunched over their phones. Instead, the field was simply filled with enthusiastic young athletes, smiling groups of friends and riders, all keen to perform well in this most tasking of events.
Bernard Marsden provided someone great images of the racing, a few of which we’ve shown here, with links to view the rest online. The Yorkshire Cyclocross Association has produced some amazing riders over the years, with Tom Pidcock being one of the most recent prodigies to take on the world. Seeing these young riders, their drive and determination, their bike handling skills, the camaraderie and the smiles, it’s heartening to know that Yorkshire cycling has a great future; thanks to altruistic people like Steve Smales, the Harrogate Nova Cycling Club and brands such as Camelbak and Pirelli, who thankfully see the benefit in supporting the young riders who’ll take our sport into the future.