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RLSCC Cyclocross 2015/16 End of Season Report and 2016/17 Season Preview

Sat 3rd September

The Cyclocross season is now upon us! The first league round of the West Midlands Cyclocross League is tomorrow at Pype Hayes Park in Birmingham. If you like your cycling fun at the 'intense' level then I'll expect to see you at one of the following league events this season -

4th Sept - Pype Hayes Park
11th Sept - Picher Oak Woods, Redditich
18th Sept - Johnsons Coaches, Henley-in-Arden
25th Sept - Heart of England Centre, Fillongley
2nd Oct - Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb
23rd Oct - Misterton Hall, Lutterworth
30th Oct - Baggeridge Park, Halesowen
6th Nov - Blackwell Court, Bromsgrove
13th Nov - Newport
20th Nov - Aldersley Village, Wolverhampton
4th Dec - TBC
18th Dec - Mallory Park
2nd Jan - Coalville
22nd Jan - Middle Spernal Woods
29th Jan - Pypes Hayes Park?

To give you a feel of what to expect over the coming months (cyclocross runs from September to January), here are the reviews of the 2015/16 from RLSCC's own cyclocross riders -

Starting with RLSCC Queen of Cross - Michelle Paget "

Coming into this years cross after a full summer series of local racing raring to get started and the urge to continue to ride my awesome cx bike I can safely say that I have had an absolute blast.  I remember turning up at Reddicth for the first race not really knowing what to expect of the slightly bigger field and format of the wmccl league races. Not disappointed by the organisation and event formats the cx races were perfectly executed and each and every round that I did had different elements, from techy courses through woods, bmx style jumps to grass grueling climbs to mud bank clambers no two rounds favoured a particular rider skill, they had it all. - brilliant!
Some highlights for me was a top ten finish at Round 7 Stratford finishing ahead of racers that had beaten me at previous rounds and another highlight was RLSCC's round at Evesham, really enjoyed being part of the team and when racing the course it felt amazing having local rls support on nearly every corner - cheers and encouragement always pushing me on to keep trying despite the screaming legs and lungs - thanks guys. Another Highlight was sweating my face of in a santa suit racing at the boxing day cx in Kenilworth, yet another local round full of rlscc support and cheering on all parts of the course. I may ditch the santa suit next year for a slightly more breathable version though :)
I have had rounds where i have never ever been so glad to hear the sound of the bell and truly glad to go and get a cup of tea, but also having the mix of rounds when the racing is neck and neck and feels great to have people to race against finishing the race ruined but absolutely buzzing at the same time.
I have learnt lots and know where I need to focus on for myself for this year coming. Hoping that I can get to more rounds than 2015 and perhaps try and complete a full league placement. The racing has been enjoyable and also enjoyed being part of the rlscc team and watching other riders do well in their races too- Nice one Guys!
So onward with the training a bit of xcin prep for the summer cx and hoping to get to the best i can be for 2016 cx series start later on in the year."
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And King of the Cobbles - Andy Taylor "My first full season of the the West Midlands Cyclo Cross League is done! Yeah! All my efforts have resulted in 40th place in Vets 40-49 and I'll take that. This gives me a benchmark for next year at very least. How to beat that? More training and Rule #5 I guess. The racing was painful at times but overwhelmingly good fun and extremely open and friendly. I had a great time with the RLSCC crew and supporters. Nothing keeps you going like a shout from Mrs Taylor or Mrs McNulty. Also mixed in with the Stratford and Redditch stalwarts and made a friendly rivalry with David from Solihull CC. I was lapped several times by the British Champ and other esteemed CX riders including our very own Jason McNulty. I was also able to support (abuse) RLSCC riders this year with Michelle and Mike racing in the Woman's and Vets 50 race. At some point I think I also saw Stuart Hepburn, Chris Spencer and Sam Taylor on CX bikes, but would such esteemed roadies have lowered themselves to CX? Highlight on the racing side for me was the Cannock Chase round. This was my best result in terms of relative placing in the field and felt like the race I nailed in terms of technique, pacing and tactics. There were a couple of others that got away with stupid falls, namely Misterton and Blackwell which included my spectacular off in front of Jason. The mud at Mallory was a personal triumph. It was brutal but unlike last year I dealt with it much better and out foxed David from Solihull with well timed dismount and run with the bike to drop him on the last lap. Ah the small victories! Henley and Newport on the other hand crushed my spirit and ripped out my cycling soul leaving me an empty gutless shell of a rider. I was only brought back to life and refilled with great CX joy by racing through the sheer painful, arduous yet brilliant muddy hell of a course devised by Mr Jefferies for our own round at Evesham. This was undoubtedly my favourite weekend of the calendar, made all the better by helping run it and then racing on the best course of the season in front of the home crowd (crowd? well half a dozen RLSCC members at least).?"
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?And here's the review from a Top Ten League Finisher, Jason McNulty "

Having completed my third CX season, I am still on a steep learning curve and very much consider myself as a relative new-boy……although I am approaching the tail end of the Seniors category, with only two years left to legitimately try and show these youngsters a thing or two. This 2015/16 season was a long one with races into January which is a sign of the times that CX is becoming more popular with more clubs wanting to host races and the starting fields swelling to record numbers in the West Midlands league – its popularity shows no sign of waning  

So I was asked to provide a short paragraph on my highlights for the season – anyone that knows me will testify that I can wax lyrical for hours about CX and so I have not been known to be concise on the subject…... In all honesty, the entire season has been a highlight – genuinely…….for those that have read some of my race reports, hopefully you would have already got the gist of my enthusiasm for the sport. The two highlights have to be a respectable finish in the Yorkshire Three Peaks CX Race and finishing of 9th Senior in the West Midlands league – both of which I think is something to write home about and something I am very proud to have achieved……..each required a fair few hours of training, constantly honing of my race craft and some old fashioned grit/determination.

I increasingly take my CX season more and more seriously (and all that comes with it) but I never allow myself to be misguided from what is at the heart of the CX sport  - it is an amazingly welcoming community of likeminded folk who don’t care about what your bike looks like or that your race number is wonky or that you got lapped by the National Champ half a dozen times last week……..everyone turns up to races to thrash out their own individual battles and each of them returns with a smile the following week to repeat it; and at the end of the season we are all already looking forward to the next.

I am very much looking forward to the next CX season and hopefully attracting a few more RLSCC riders to the community – it’s the future….you heard it here first! ?".

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And here is the review from Mike Snell, RLSCC's rep in the V50s - "What a great CX season, shame it wasn't reflected in my results. Some clashing events meant I put in a pretty late start to the season and not a very fast one at that. Really enjoyed the round at Evesham, quite a busy couple of days helping out and great to meet up with all of the RLSCC crew. Thanks to everyone for the support during the race, got me to my best result of the season at the time. Baggeridge was the scene of both my best and worst results of the WMCCL season. In round 4, I finished a lowly 16th in my age group, but a pretty low turnout in round 14 helped boost my league points, unfortunately not by enough to beat last years result, but at the race I did manage to finish ahead of some riders I've been chasing all season, so was happy to finish 9th in my age group. I also did a few races outside of the WMCCL league. Competed in one round of the Western league. This league is a bit quieter than the Midlands so the seniors race with the vets, normally making a grid of 50 to 80 riders. But on the 29th of November the calendar was empty, so everyone went to Dunfurlong to make a grid of more than 140. Organisers concerned about having enough race numbers, first lap queues, manic race, bikes absolutely everywhere, lots of overtaking, great fun. The Central region saw me take part in 3 races, where I had one of hardest fought races of the season, at the Milton Keynes Bowl. Catching up with Alastair Faddon after a slowish start, we traded places at least a dozen time during the next 2 laps, each trying to figure out where we could gain just the smallest of an advantage, I eventually beat him to the line by just 2 seconds. At all the races there has been some good banter at the start line, followed by muddy handshakes, congratulations and comparing race notes at the finish. Roll on next season.? (Mike please send me a photo).

And here is the review from a reluctant 'crosser - Stuart Hepburn "

OK, I think I am your reluctant Cyclocrosser?!

This only comes from a desire not to run!  After being told running wouldn’t help my arthritic hip a number of years ago, I really haven’t done much more than a trot to cross the road since.  Hence any course that may involve more than a brief jump over a plank is not going to appeal.  If I’m honest given the choice of riding the road bike or the CX, the road bike normally wins.  I know Steve and Jason will keep working on me regardless!  All that said I enjoyed every minute of the three races I entered; each offering something different.   

Tackeroo was gloriously sunny, the ground was firm, but forgiving and the course having plenty of variety.  This was the perfect day for a newbie or novice CX to have a go.  My roadie credentials seemed apparent on the longer flat sections of grass, but I was left wanting for the practice I’d not done on the boggy bits through the woods.

Henley was fast grass and bumpy.  Very, very, very bumpy clay covered ups and downs.  No running on this one and aside from feeling like you’d be punched in the lower back I enjoyed this one, where others said they hadn’t so much?

My only other CX race was the Boxing Day Kenilworth Common, not part of the WM League, but needs a mention in my summary of the CX season… Bonkers!  Boggy course, two fast descents; one which had a baying crowd of what felt like thousands willing you to have an off.  The course was tough where the steep tarmac uphill section was referred to by many as the ‘recovery’ part of the course!  Fantastic fun and certainly shifted the Christmas Day excess.

It involves pedalling, so I’ll be back for more."

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And finally from me (Steve), it was a good season for me, sadly cut short by a shoulder injury that I ignored for too long. Lesson leared from this season - get your injuries sorted before they turn really bad and don't forget to stretch! A number of top ten finishes in the V40-44 category were a satisfying result for me with hopefully better to come for the coming season!

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?If you interested in joining the RLSCC 'cross team please drop a note to the RLSCC Admin address and they will forward it to the new Cyclocross Rep - Jason McNulty. He embodies the spirit of cyclocross in the club and will be happy to provide plenty of useful advice for first timers!

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