CX in the sun at Bedfont Lakes
The Central Cyclocross League (CCXL) Round 4 race which was held on the 8th October was the fourth time we have promoted the event at Bedfont Lakes in Feltham. We always run it early in the season, but each year has seen completely different weather conditions, from cold and dry, through to torrential rain. This year was no different – we got a heatwave!
Dave Spragg, who has been the club’s driving force for cyclocross over many years, and until this year, has almost single handedly organised the event, handed over the reins to Chris Montagu and Matt Foote for 2023.
The course is always interesting, with a mix of sweeping grass bends and turns, a series of rough, slippery gravel tracks, and a number of testing, short climbs and descents. The continued inclusion of the steps at halfway added another, always popular technical element. This year however, we reversed the course direction, and this proved to be a very popular change to the parcours, with tighter, sharper turns and fast descents, as well as some very good opportunities for passing on both the sweeping grass turns, as well as the gravel paths.
The planning for the event started in June, liaising with the Central Cyclocross League, and the venue partners to agree dates, ensure all documentation was made available, risk assessments completed, and organising the catering, loos and car parking. We helped with the Round 3 takedown at Campbell Park the weekend before and Chris picked up the CCXL race kit and trailer to bring down to the smoke.
The races were fast, boiling hot and competitive, with a lot of thrills and spills, especially around the steps, and the sharp, slippery switchback gravel turns, where if riders were not careful with their lines and entry speed, could, and often did, come unstuck. The kid’s races were equally competitive, and included the off-camber switchbacks and chicane sections from the adult course which gave the riders some great technical challenges.
The heat started to tell in the adult races, with the ice cream, coffee van and Real Belgian Fries all doing a steady business in cold drinks and treats. There was a great family atmosphere over the whole day, thanks to the racers, and the volunteers, who all got a grand day out in the autumn sunshine, watching some great racing.
We all left the park well before 6pm, after a brilliant and hugely successful day’s racing.
There are so many people to thank, from all the club volunteers, Kingston Junior Cycling Club parents and riders, and family members who gave up their Saturday and Sunday to help set up the course, and marshal the event, as well as:
CISCO UK, who by opening up their headquarters car park on a Sunday, providing a special security team and allowing club marshals to be on site, meant we had the capacity to cater for the 200 vehicles over the whole day, and without which we would not have been able to run the event. A special thanks are due to Paul, Mark, Robin and Said who were on site all day on Sunday.
Bedfont Lakes and Hounslow Council, who have continued to support us, and allow us to host in such a beautiful country park venue. Thanks to Sonia, Kayleigh and Sanaa in the park and council teams, for their guidance as well as huge enthusiasm for the event and the sport.
Central Cyclocross League, and especially Nathan, for their ongoing support and encouragement as well as promotion on the League websites and social media.
The commissaire team led by Mark, who gave Chris and myself so much patience and guidance over the day. We know how hard the commi teams work to ensure we can run these events safely and to get the most competitive racing.
We’d also like to give special thanks to Janet and Paula, who without even being club members, looked after the sign on tent all day, and Michael and Will, who stepped up to give superb master of ceremonies performances over the day.
Thanks to everyone who helped us – we could not run this fantastic event without the volunteers who make it happen and here’s looking forward to 2024 (and whatever the weather has in store!)
Chris and Matt