2016 Series will soon be here!
On Friday 6th May sees the start of the 2016 series. This year is a massive milestone in the series history as it marks the 25th year.
We are proud in the fact we are the 2nd oldest mountain bike cross country series in the world. We are only beaten by 1 year and that is by the UCI world cup.
When we started back in 1992 we were known as the Friday Night inter-club Summer Series. Back then British Cycling was based in Kettering, Northamptonshire and the BMBF (British Mountain Bike Federation) as in its infancy.
BC committee member Patricia Clark (Pat) contacted a group of us with an idea about setting up a local grass roots mountain bike cross country series. The local club cyclists had their club evening time trials costing 50 pence and the road racers had their handicapped series costing about £2 per round but the mountain bikers had nothing.
If they wanted to race, it was £20 – £30 to race at Bob’s Bash in Henley in Arden or the NATS races at Sherwood Pines and Strawberry Hill.
At the original meeting at the Rockingham Forest Wheelers clubroom in Middleton, Northamptonshire there where about 8 of us. Myself from the Welland Valley CC, Pat from the Rockingham Forest Wheelers, Richard White from Beds Road Club, Dave Donoghue from Oundle Velo, Steve Clarke from Fenland Clarion and then members from Bourne Wheelers, Sleafords Wheeler and from Kettering Friendly I think.
We sat down and laid out the ground rules and set our rules and race program to a very similar format to the BCCA (British Cyclo Cross Association) where we would race for about 1 hour, we would be classed by age not ability and everyone would race together. As we didn’t know how many ladies would race, we gave them their own category with the option to choose to race in that or in the actual age group.
And we still do.
Over the years we introduced an over 50’s and then an over 60’s, we adjusted the junior age bracket from 16 – 18 to 16 – 22 and renamed it the under 23’s category.
Our format has stayed the same, we race for about a hour on a course up to 3 miles around. Everyone races together although we do stagger the starts. The seniors and under 23’s start first, then the veterans, followed by the grand vet’s and last off the start line are the ladies and youth. Depending on the course it is normally 1 – 2 minutes between groups.
The youngest you can be is 12 years old at the start of the race series, the oldest, there is no upper age limit, we do have riders in their 70’s compete. The beauty of the series is it’s friendly nature.
I am the series co-ordinator and have been for over 20 years and I also organise several of the races each year I am a strong believer in tolerance. Anyone caught or reported to me swearing or acting in an unprofessional manner at the races is soon spoken too.
Because we encourage riders of every ability from absolute beginners on their £99 Argos bikes in t-shirts and trainers to pro elite riders on their £3k + bikes in their team strip, in my eye’s everyone has paid their money everyone derserves to be treated the same.
No one rider has more right than another in the series and when in the race, if there is a technical section that some riders struggle with then it is up to the catching rider to either pass responsibly or wait until it is safe to pass.
Every year something comes up within the series and we embrace and adapt accordingly. We get new organisers most years as well and these are generally riders who race the series and want to put something back. Although the organisers form the base committee we do have 5 officals that riders can report anything to.
Over the years we have gone from old school writing the race numbers down and sorting the results out manually to an excel timestamp program to what we have now which is a bespoked electronic timing system. We still have the old school manual system as a back up as we a filming the whole race from the finish line.
Another beauty of the series is no race venue is the same, even if we do use the same venue the organisers will lay out a different course.
This years series details should all be confirmed before Easter and entry forms and on line entries should be available by then too.
Provisional entry forms are already available as these have been sent out to the organisers to check and verify their details before going to print. A 25th anniversary publicity poster has been produced as well. We are looking at producing a limited run of either t-shirts or polo shirts and a survey has been put on our Facebook Page
Here is to another 25 years.