#bikeschool: Rapha Super Cross

competitions all being run at the same time with well over a hundred competitors. I was there in support of, and chief morale booster for Richard Michelson (@rich_mitch) who displayed the type of cross-based pain from lap 1 that I’d been hoping to see at the event. The grounds of Alexandra Palace are by no means flat and a large grassy climb had to be negotiated followed by a large stair-set before a technical decent. This really was a grueling 60 minute race. I saw Richard after the race and he was still able to talk and sit up right without falling into the soft lush grass near to the beer tent which was a good sign but I sensed that the course had taken many people by surprise, only made slightly less bad (shut up… I can write like this on here… it’s my ‘style’) by the sunny fresh weather and hard track surface meaning muddy face packs weren’t on the agenda. The race organisers choice to put all 4 competitions into the one race really paid off. It kept the day down to a manageable 4 hours which was essential due to the amount of kids and families there and it also meant there was a constant stream of riders to cheer at and shout encouragement, as well as shaking approximately 1000 cowbells in there face!s as they went round the course! This kept the interest high and the fun did o’er floweth.

Following the massed ranks of amateurs it was time for the nitty gritty of the Super Cross race and the pro’s to battle it out for the third and final time for the Super Cross Series. To be honest, this wasn’t the most enjoyable race to watch. They were awesome riders; strong, technical, organised, focused, and above all competitive, but other than the odd crash at considerably higher speeds than everyone else was crashing that day I couldn’t pick much out from that race. This probably goes to show that Rapha did a great job with the organisation. On the face of it the day looked like a professional orientated race with some smaller side races that you could enter if you wished… just to get people there and spread the brand. But in reality it was the opposite. this felt more like a mass-participation event where the pro race was merely the icing on the cake. An exhibition almost. An I liked that!

“I’m going to the bar for some shortcuts…”

Sophia putting down the power

The final race of the day saw the Novices and Youth (under 16) categories race together on a slightly shortened course, mainly taking out the big climb up to the palace steps [ED: This was absolute poppy cock that I made up! Sophia has put me right... they did the whole course! Chapeau!]. May of the riders would have been able to complete the full lap as there were some very strong youth riders and most of the ‘novices’ had merely never ridden cross before… but were bloody strong riders. In the Youth category was a young female rider I know, Sophia Joy (@SophiaaJoy) who raced really well and took 3rd, although the rider in 2nd used some ‘dubious’ tactics! Make sure you remember that name guys… Sophia Joy… I predict she is going to go to some great places in cycling!

As I said above, the course had been shortened slightly for the final race and also another spanner thrown into the works was unveiled 1 lap in. The ‘Tequila Shortcut’! An ingenious idea that allowed the 18+ members of the race to take a cheeky shortcut negating the tricky off-camber hairpin at the expense of drinking a shot of tequila! At first it was surprisingly difficult for the race commentators and the tequila ‘girl’ to tempt the riders through the shortcut but eventually they got the hang of it and some were using the handy refreshment stop every lap resulting in some unsteady legs at the end of the race. It was a great way to end the day with a lot of crowd participation with booing and cheering as the riders chose their sober or drunken routes as well as a ridiculous amount of cowbell ringing.

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