14th-16th September saw British Cycling put on a weekend of competition for youth teams from the various BC Regions. LVYCC members Alex Dale and Eleanor Bolton were selected to ride for the Eastern Region team –open to all U14 and U16s.
The venue was nicely local for us – Hadleigh Farm out near Southend, site of the 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking.
The Inter-Regional Competition is unique amongst the National Mtb events in that it includes skills competitions and short crits, as well as endurance cross country races – consequently it offers opportunities for a different range of riders.
The MSG Team were tasked with all the course creation for the various events. Matt Payne – voice of the National Trophy Cyclocross and National MTB series, provided the commentary for the 6 different events throughout the weekend.
All 12 Regional Teams had to report to Hadleigh at 12 noon on the Friday (armed with official permission to miss a day of school). Each team wore Regional Kit and has their own Team Manager and Coach. Mick Curtis and Richard Miller filled these roles for Eastern.
The teams stayed together in the Holiday Inn at Southend on Friday and Saturday nights, eating together in the restaurant and travelling back and forth in team transport. Eleanor was less than convinced by the food but the beds were comfortable.
Friday afternoon consisted of a Skills Competition – 10 stations, 10 different skills to be tested – including wheelies, high jump, 360 degree bunny hops, skinny planks, side hops and bottle circling. 0 – 3 points were awarded for each skill depending on the level achieved. These skills were demanding and some riders were extremely impressive – 1 of the boys achieved a perfect score across the 10 stations and 7 others only lost 1 point. It was interesting to see how much higher the boys scores were to the girls – perhaps evidence of more time spent playing on bikes.
I reckon LVYCC riders could certainly profitably spend some time working on these skills, it certainly opened my eyes to the possibility of things to practice!
Saturday was a full day of competition starting with a Timed Skills event – this consisted of a fast hill loop race round to an obstacle course. Time penalties were given out for any obstacle not completed and riders were disqualified if they failed to attempt the 360 degree bunny hop.
You need to see the video to see the requirements. I can’t explain it!
After this came a mass start hill climb going from the bottom of the Hadleigh site up to the podium station. Alex did very well in this to finish 10th. Eleanor was heading for around 15th but crashed on the final downhill corner and consequently lost a lot of places.
Final event of the day was the Dirt Crits – a short lap course, 12 riders to a heat. Fastest 6 qualified for the A/B finals, slowest 6 for the C/D finals. There was bad luck here for the LVYCC riders – Alex was caught behind a crash and Eleanor failed to clip in – not good for a such a short race. Both ended up in the C/D stream but then pulled it back to win those and so finish 25th overall, as good as they could have done in that stream.
First event Sunday was the Team Relay – more bad luck for Eastern – their first rider snapped his chain and had to run 1.5k.
The long X Country race finished things off – Alex did well to again finish 8th. Eleanor was happy to finish 11th.
Overall the Eastern Team finished 7th. I understand this is their best placing in the competition yet. The standard of competition was very high and all the Eastern Team showed fantastic commitment and effort in the event, despite a good smattering of bad luck. I am guessing it will have been a fantastic experience for all of them, a full-on weekend of non- stop competition. I bet they all slept extremely well on Sunday night.
Many a Big Thank You is needed – for Mick Curtis and Richard Millar – who coordinated the team and looked after them so well, for the MSG Team for spending days creating and marking all the courses and to all the BC team who put it together and presumably found the funding. I really hope the event continues in future years, it was so worthwhile.
Get practicing those skills now in the hope that your turn will come!
Big Thanks to Huw Williams for this short video of the weekend: