Sunday 10th July 2016 the National Youth Circuit Race Championships came to Hog Hill, hosted by our very own Lee Valley Youth Cycle Club. The entire Centre was given over to the event with the amazingly organised sign on located in the bike hire room next to reception, an information desk in the gazebo next to the carpark, proper gear rollout tracks, the top car park given over to rollers, a roller/bike free zone between the centre and the track, a beautifully washed podium with a LVYCC banner, barriers and tape creating holding pens and finishing areas, crossing points over the track, a bbq, smoothie van and the cafe working flat out. Plus extra drainage dug out at the bottom of the track to reduce the risk of flooding. It was so well thought out and the layout worked really well – it felt less crowded than our ordinary sized races and there was plenty of room for the spectators to see the track – a real achievement as there must have been around 350 riders taking part over the course of the day, all with lots of support.
The day was amazing thanks to the huge team of LVYCC volunteers brilliantly coordinated by Bruce, Julie and Bob. It was an incredible experience to be part of and made me proud. I wanted it to share a little of it with those who weren’t there. Last time the Nationals were held at Hog Hill in 2014 we were new to the club and didn’t get involved but I remember reading the newsletters and wondering what exactly was going on. The following observations are just snapshots of what I saw when I left the judging box during breaks. There were many more people helping than I mention here and much more involved in the organisation than I saw. How they managed to coordinate this along with general life and paying jobs I have no idea.
Somehow in a moment of madness back in January I volunteered to help out by learning how to work the transponder system and so ended up watching events unfold from the prime (dry) spot of the judging box. Most importantly for me Chris Eschle of Redbridge Cycling Club was there and in charge. He is the main transponder man – he put the system together along with Ian Coles of Redbridge Cycling Centre and he can work it to perfection. He gave up the whole day to help us out and avoid the club paying out thousands for professional chip timing. He has been teaching me the system but no way was I ready to do it alone at the Nationals. Seeing him made me breathe a whole lot easier. Tony Madgewick was chief judge, coordinating a team to write down each and every number as Bruce called it going past. In action they are impressive. Bruce has such a calm voice and the focus on the numbers is breathtaking. Ian Coles, the centre manager, was there on the roof with his camera taking slow motion video to confirm the positions of the bunch sprint. The results were ready for display impressively quickly after each race.
Drew and Colin in their dinner suits and bow ties for their announcing role were a talking point. They truly looked the business, especially when Drew was up on the roof of the judging box, silhoetted against the skyline.
I saw the sign-on team in preparation mode, all calm efficiency with lists galore and stacks of equipment, directing stray riders who had wandered in at the wrong time or by the wrong door back on track. They looked in charge and consequently all ran like clockwork. They even found the time to re-label the transponders to make easier for next time. I think Julie must constantly tweak the system learning from each event. I am in awe of her efficiency and the way she seemed to be everywhere making sure everyone was OK with their jobs and making sure everything was in the right place at the right time.
I saw one presentation – it was quite a moment watching the winner pull on their National Champions jersey. That is the moment the racers were battling to experience. The finish photos that Huw Williams took show the joy of the winners beautifully.
The five podium girls further brightened up the presentations, along with guest of honour Maurice Burton and gorgeous flowers from Joanne Truby Floral Design. The podium girls also turned their hands to programme selling in their spare time, making a nice bit of extra money for the club.
There were runners, who work to get the sign on sheets to the judges and then the results from the judges to display. Guy Selfe was one of these – his role was extended to climbing at one point when he had to scale the front of the judging box to rescue the dropped microphone. Disaster averted thank you.
I heard there was a scaffolding tower down on the bottom circuit to give the marshalls better sightlines but didn’t see it for myself. I could hear the updates over the radios though. It can be immensely lonely marshalling down there, hopefully the tower helped.
The transponder removers managed to get every transponder back from u14 boys ready for the u16 girls and back again for the u16 boys. We were kindly lent extra transponders as a back up from Lotus in Suffolk, just in case some went astray, as we needed every transponder we have for the u16 boys race with it’s massive entry field.
Volunteer first aiders were there, going straight out onto the circuit as soon as a crash call went out on the radio. No panic, just straight out in the buggy.
I could see glimpses of Hugh Vivian organising the riders in the holding pen at the start and the Commissaires briefing the parents in the pits, plus the marshals at the course crossing points.
And then the riders. The racing was fast and furious. Hog Hill is a challenging course, the u14 boys climbed the Hoggenberg 18 times over an hour of racing – extended to the u16s who went up it a massive 28 times in a gruelling hou and a half long race – 700m of climbing I think. Comparing the fastest lap times from Sunday to the 30 minute LVYCC race on June 18th was interesting. Max’s fastest time in the u14s on June 18th was 3:10. On Sunday it was 2:56. The hill gradually whittled the fields down lap by lap with the Commissaires removing riders as they got too far off the back of the bunch. About half the riders in each race finished the entire distance. Congratulations to all our riders who took part – particularly to Kate Wootton who finished 24th in the U16 girls despite a crash close to the end that meant she had to chase hard back to the bunch, to Max Bolton who finished 13th in the U14 boys and to Louis Bilyard and Ben Selfe who were brought down in a crash in the bunch on the finishing climb of the U16 boys whilst in really strong positions. Nesta Ferguson (25th), Luke Prenelle (26th), Harrison Powell (35th) and Marco Passfield (61st) all finished the entire distance without being pulled out. The U12s put up a good showing in the supporting race too, particularly Owen Prenelle (7th) and Alfie Salmon (9th).
All in all it was a fascinating experience. Exhilarating to be part of such a team. I know I’ve missed many people and jobs and I’m sorry – there was just so much going on. Julie and Bob are already talking about bidding to host one of the National series races next year so get ready to do it all again soon…..
Be Proud LVYCC – by Sarah Bolton
Click here – photos of the u14s and u12s
Click here – Huw William’s photos