Michael Burke Reports:
Over the weekend WVCC members descended into Ardingly, with the rest of the UK Cyclocross Scene, eager to race around the renowned venue which has previously hosted the National Trophy Series.
Spread over two days the action started on Saturday for the club with the V50’s and Nik Kershaw taking 82nd. Later in the morning Hans Van Nierop finished 50th in what were both high quality fields.
During the afternoon the action continued with Ruby Isaac & Jamie Kershaw competing in the U14 race. Both producing stellar performances and both finishing in the top 20.
Rain on the Saturday made the course a real challenge for all races with slippery conditions on an already technical circuit.
On Sunday the rain stopped and glorious sunshine came out. That however, led to a lot of mud and made the terrain super tough for riding especially with the water not draining. The first race of the day, involving the club, was the Junior Men which was full of future talent and high-class athletes. Those representing the club were Dom Switzer and Jim Vernon.
Jim, having travelled down the previous night, found out that due to unforeseen circumstances he would be a bike short for the race. As he was warming up Hans Van Nierop kindly offered his bike for Jim to use in order to give him the best chance in what was really quickly becoming clear a definite a two-bike race.
It was clear the atmosphere was tense, and a crash straight after the start took a number of riders down. Luckily Dom and Jim came through unscathed and both continued to attack the lap times which as the race went on got slower with conditions getting worse. Dom was floating around the top 20 for much of the race and was in a group of 6 for most of it trading places throughout. It was a great race to watch with Dom taking 23rd and Jim 29th. Again, a very high-quality national field.
The last race of the weekend was myself in the Senior & Under 23 Men’s race. It must be said that in my first practice lap I could see it was going to be difficult! Once every other race of the weekend had their own go at chopping up the circuit, it would test even the very best at the job. Getting to the start and having a good gridding I was ready; we were all called in to line up knowing it was going to be a big effort for the race. Fortunately, Jez & Dom offered to pit for me which allowed me to compete using two bikes. It was as much of a challenge in the pits as it was racing. Especially when pitting on one side of the circuit, it was better to shoulder the bike and run straight out as it was slower to ride it!
Finishing 64th, I was very grateful for the all the Welland shout outs around the many places on the circuit, it was a very welcome encouragement.
In all honesty I hope to be back again to do next year!
Ruby Isaac – 19th (Youth)
Jamie Kershaw – 15th (Youth)
Nik Kershaw – 82nd (V50)
Hans Van Nierop – 50th (V40)
Dom Switzer – 23rd (J)
Jim Vernon – 29th (J)
Michael Burke – 64th (S)
It was also a pleasure to have Rockingham Forest there for company for the weekend.
Steve Coombs – 63rd (V50)
Paul Dickens – 10th (V60)
Also wishing Phil Wilkinson, a speedy recovery.
Jim Vernon adds his perspective:
I travelled down to Ardingly on Saturday night to my hotel and got to the South of England Show ground on Sunday morning. I was supposed to borrow Phil’s bike but unfortunately due to his crash he had to go home and I could not borrow his bike.
As I was warming up Hans spoke to me and said I could borrow his bike, we didn’t have much time to talk as it was a couple of minutes till the start.
I met him down at the line and my dad took the bike off him and into the pits.
We were all gridded Dom was a couple of rows in front of me, I was second to the back row as it was my national first race.
The whistle blew and we all started sprinting into the first corner. I saw something happen and before I knew it there was a few riders down, before the first corner.
On the first lap I had some contact with someone and I got pushed off line and had to jump off, my boa broke on my shoe because I accidentally stood on it.
We only did four very muddy laps and I was pitting pretty much every lap. I didn’t see Dom the whole race, he ended up in front of me but we both placed top 30.