BUCS XC Championships
Sunday 13th March 2011
Durham University – Aura Cycles fielded 9 riders in the BUCS Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships over the weekend, held in Moelfre, Wales. The XC races concluded the prestigious weekend of racing after the downhillers competed for glory on the Saturday.
Setting off from Durham on Saturday morning, we were all anxious to get down there and check the course out. Was it going to be a straightforward fire track sprint as in previous years or was it going to push the rider’s technical ability to the limit? On arrival, we soon realised that this was not your average XC race, but instead the course consisted of a ridiculously steep, gravel climb up to the top of the hill overlooking the campsite, followed by a steep, technical descent down the old downhill track. How hard can it be? So after a short while sorting the bikes out and fiddling with tyres we headed off for a few practise laps. With a few exceptions, everyone safely negotiated a couple of circuits and we were confident that come race day tomorrow we could hold our own in the race.
There was even time for a few eager members of the team to try their hand on the 4X track. This was never going to end well, and within a few minutes Pete Ward had crashed hard and snapped his collarbone in two. A trip to the first aid tent revealed the extent of the injury and he was then taken off to the awaiting ambulance. Pete is still in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital waiting for surgery on Tuesday and he can now have a matching metal plate on his collarbone to the one already in his arm. On behalf of everyone at DUCC we wish Pete a speedy recovery so that he can get back on his bike as soon as possible to practise his jumping technique.
The racing on Sunday started with the XC Sport Champs, a fun, ‘less-competitive’ race before the main event. Durham was represented by international sensation Giacomo Pieraccini (racing his first mtb race) and former student Ewan Brown. Despite Ewan’s last minute decision to race and the subsequent lack of preparation, he flew around the 4 laps at breakneck speed to record a brilliant victory, completed in style with a popular wheelie over the line. Giacomo also held his own to record a credible 80th place.
The 6 lap Championship race started shortly afterwards, with Durham riders Andy Charlesworth, Andy Durnan, Andy Miles and Matt Wilson in the men’s race and Kat Broadbent and Lizzie Dingle in the women’s race. The gridding system at the start avoided too much chaos as 130 riders fought to get onto the climb in the best possible position. Fortunately, the course had dried out nicely after the torrential rain the night before, so conditions on the ground were surprisingly good. Add to this bright sunshine and hundreds of hungover/still drunk/loud/abusive downhillers and the scene was set for a mental race. And this it proved, with complete carnage as soon as the race hit the descent for the first time. Andy Miles was keen to get in on the action with a perfect execution of a mounted flying front somersault on the second lap. Matt Wilson was also keen to rub his face in the dirt and is now covered head to toe in bruises. Mtb captain Andy Charlesworth lead from the front with unrivalled flair and showed his ‘roadie’ teammates a thing or two about going downhill fast. Andy Durnan also had little difficulty mastering the descents, even if he did have to stop every lap and drop his seat! Unfortunately, Lizzie had to abandon at half way due to snapping her chain, which meant Kat was the sole remaining Durham representative in the women’s race. She demonstrated masterful tactical ability by playing the waiting game as her rivals sped around the course and repeatedly lapped her, resulting in Kat only having to complete two laps of the hellish course. There have also been rumours circulating that Kat Broadbent is hoping to do the double next year and race the downhill as well, watch this space for more on that!
XC Champs – Male
28th Andrew Miles @ +1 lap
53rd Matt Wilson @ +1 lap
77th Andy Charlesworth @ +2 laps
94th Andy Durnan @ +2 laps
(from 113 finishers)
XC Champs – Female
17th Lizzie Dingle @ +2 laps
18th Kat Broadbent @ +2 laps
XC Sport – Male
1st Ewan Brown
80th Giacomo Pieraccini @ +3 laps
(from 111 finishers)