We are constantly getting the opportunity to travel to races and cycling events across the UK. It’s very much a perk of working in the cycling industry, and one we’re happy to make the most of. This week however is slightly more unusual than most. It is the week of mud!
Tonight will be the final round of the London Cyclo-Cross Summer Series which will be held at the historic Herne Hill Velodrome. Two of the Yellow Jersey Cycling Insurance founders are proud members of the Herne Hill Velodrome committee, but both are more used to racing the track in the sunshine than exploring the shrub land that borders it. While ‘Summer Series’ by name, and intended as a nice warmup for the winter series, the recent weather is likely to see the course resemble conditions a bit more familiar to the sport.
The first cross race was held in 2013 -a mere 122 years after the velodrome was opened to cyclists- utilising the fast surface of the velodrome for a quick start/finish straight, before diving off into the neighbouring woodland for a notoriously tough circuit. Incorporating sections of deep mud which don’t seem to notice the time of year, and narrow paths which stretch the riders out across the entire length of the course, Herne Hill has built a reputation in a short time as one of the more exciting courses on the calendar.
If you missed our blog How to Get into Cyclocross, and Why You Probably Should, it’s worth a look, and definitely worth coming along if it’s your first time. You don’t need a race licence, you don’t need to pre-register, and you will be joining one of the friendliest communities in cycling. Two of the Yellow Jersey office will be competing in their first Cyclocross event on mountain bikes, providing a little last minute practice before Saturday.
Not content with one off-road event in a week, we will be traveling down to the Brighton Big Dog mountain bike race as two teams of three, competing in the 6 hour endurance event.
First run in 2009, and organised by a group of friends on the single track at Stamner Park, a little way north of Brighton, the Big Dog was kick-started by the momentum brought by the Gory Fisher G2 revolver hosted at the same location 2008. Notorious for its mud, and with recent weather not expected to get any better, we are anticipation the 8 mile laps to be tough and tricky.
Video from 2014’s event, uploded by Justin Nash
We are particularly looking forward to competing in the same event –although some distance behind- Mountain Trax Vauxhall, a team we have been working with and supporting throughout the season.
British champ Ben Thomas will be riding Big Dog for his fourth time before heading off to compete in the Azores UCI Mountain Bike World Marathon Series, and has been sending helpful tips our way for the past week. If anyone can give good advice for the Brighton Big Dog, it has to be Ben. He won’t just be riding on Saturday, he will be defending his floppy-eared crown having won the 6 hour endurance event the last three years in a row.
Speaking after last year’s event, Ben reported ‘Just like last year I led the entire race from the start leaving the teams and pairs behind me with just my teammate Isaac on my wheel. This strategy keeps me out of trouble early on and makes my slower starting rivals suffer!’
I’m not sure the same technique will pay off for the amateurs, despite the Yellow Jersey staff and friends only riding a third of the overall time each, but the office trash talking and confidence has been growing steadily for weeks. Only time will tell.
If you are heading to either event, let us know on Twitter. We will, as always, be piling people up with Yellow Jersey Swag, and keep an eye out for our event photos and race reports next week.