The Cob House Fisheries hosted the gold ribbon event of the season on Sunday 2nd December, with riders from across the region fighting it out for the right to be crowned the West Midlands Cyclocross champion for 2018/19. Malvern Cycle sport organised a cracking event at a new venue that presented riders with a true championship course and by some margin the toughest conditions of the season.
The venue would have been a challenging course anyway but the level of difficulty was raised to another level by the preceding weeks weather, some strategically planned midweek ploughing and the best part of three hundred plus bikes riding on the day. This meant that there were several challenging off camber sections and short steep climbs where running with the bike was not only essential but quicker. This did provide Ian Bunch with the opportunity for some dramatic photos, which Mike Haddon will surely be using for his 2019/20 cyclocross recruitment campaign. However, the fact that you could frequently hear riders Garmin’s auto-pausing mid race gives you an indication of how tough a day it was in the office.
There was another fantastic Wyre Forest presence on the day with 14 riders competing across the different categories. The loudest fans on tour were even louder than normal thanks to the excellent early morning work of Paul Gibson who managed to place the gazebo right next to the commentators tent and more importantly within firing range of Fiona and the rest of Babes fan club who were also joined by resident club wheel builder Jam.
The combined U6/U8 kicked events off with an early 9.15am start. Star rider Mollie Cook was unable to make the event as her brother and dad had joined other club members in supporting the superb Kemp Santa ride in aid of Kemp Hospice. As a result Samuel Boazman was the only club rider involved and decided the course was not to his liking, told me so and then spent the entire warm up lap desperately eyeing up the playground next to the start line. In the end he had to settle for 6th place.
Four riders took to the start line in the U10 race and there were strong performance throughout with James Saunders the pick of the bunch finishing in 7th place in the U10 boys category, closely followed by George Gregory and Daniel Philpotts in 11th and 12th respectively. In the U12 race Felix Forrester was the sole club interest in what was a hugely competitive race and a large field with over 36 starters and picked up a strong 18th place in tough conditions.
Posie Forrester, Hannah Philpotts and Nate Bunch were all involved in the combined youth race. Posie Forrester, fresh from awards night success, continued her strong form to finish in 5th place, closely followed by Hannah Philpotts who battled throughout to pick up another top 10 finishing in 9th place in the U14 girls. In the U16 boys category Nate secured another top 20 finishing in 18th place.
From cyclocross newbie to die hard fanatic Rosie Hopkins clearly cannot get enough of the stuff and I am pretty sure she even used the word “enjoyable” to describe the day on her strava feed! It was another brilliant ride from Rosie who finished 6th in the Vet 40-49 category
The word legend is often overused in sport but not in the case of Fred Browning, who made his return to racing in the blue and white of his beloved club after a lengthy injury layout. Of all the course to make the comeback it had to be this one! Fred made light work however of the conditions, picking up a brilliant 8th place in the Vet 65-69 category and rightly went on to remind us all that this is what proper cross is meant to look like, after all its not meant to be fun…..
In the same race youngster Paul Gibson picked up another top 20 finishing in 17th in the Vet 50-54 category and Mike Haddon had a great ride to finish 13th in the Vet 55-59 race.
In the combined Vet 40-49 race Rob Grimes was joined by Thomas Forrester, who clearly loved Stourport so much that he decided to come back for more.
In a large field, that was packed with talented riders, Rob battled from the off and despite being personally disappointed with his ride still finished in a brilliant 5th place in the Vet 40-44 category. Thomas meanwhile left us all wondering where he had been all season after yet again showing his quality by securing another top 20 with a 16th place finish in the Vet 45-49 category- a pretty remarkable feat given it was only his second race of the season.
I had the joy of riding last in the seniors events and had the small matter of “competing” with riders including former GB Olympian and British MTB champion Liam Killeen. I decided to reassess and subsequently reset my goals, roughly 30 seconds after the whistle went, to the simple aim of not finishing last . I am pleased to say I met my objectives 100% after finishing 24th in the senior category. ?
Away from the West Midlands two club riders decided to swap the filth of the Cobhouse for the filth of the Western Area championship. Joe Greening secured a superb podium place after finishing 3rd in the U12 boys category, whilst older sister Kim finished in 5th in the U14 girls. Well done both great results!