Broome Heath was pretty crisp at 7.00am on Sunday morning and – thanks to race organiser, Shaun Aldous, 5 volunteers, 140 white stakes and 4km of course tape – was slowly being transformed from a dog walkers mecca to a cyclo cross race course.
Despite a few last minute stake related issues, by the time the first riders appeared to pre-ride the course it was fully marked out and, despite a sunny start to the day the ground was still frozen and covered in a layer of frost.
As it became fully light, more club members arrived to deal with signing on, to help with judging, to marshall and most importantly to run the kitchen. Belgian cyclo cross races may be fuelled by beer and frites but here we still run on tea and cake!
In the veteran’s race, club member Phil Buick was hoping to secure his 8th win of the year and guarantee first place in the league. Also representing the club were Alex Watts, Tim Leary and Geriant Thomas (or was it Arwel Davies?). The race got of to a trouble free start and a small group quickly formed at the head of the race led by Andy Manning CCN but including, Phil Buick, Tim Butler, Bruce Robinson and Tony Wilkins.
As the old chaps were sorting themselves out the women’s race got underway. The Eastern League is possibly the only one in the country that gives equal coverage and recognition to women competitors with a separate start (introduced this year) their own League table and a generous prize list at each round. Missing from the start line was league leader Joolz Halpin which gave Emma Johnson the ideal opportunity to score big points and move to the top of the table. As the race got underway Emma moved to the front with only Anna Buick for company – Johnson has been improving throughout the season so it had the making of an interesting contest.
The leading veterans stayed pretty closely packed together for the first lap but by lap two Buick and Manning had moved clear and stayed together until lap four when Manning started to ease away, eventually taking the win by 44 seconds. Buick crossed the line in second to take the Vet 50+ win and the League title with one race still remaining.
Further down the field, Tim Leary was probably enjoying his disc brakes more than Arwel was enjoying his mountain bike … but at least there weren’t any hurdles! The Iceni tribe finished 34th, Alex Watts; 50th, Tim Leary and 57th Arwel Davies.
In the women’s race Anna Buick had a comfortable win over Johnson – attacking on the first lap through the first rooty section and never looking troubled from that point on.
As the first riders returned to the village hall to refuel on leek and potato soup, bacon sandwiches and the all important cakes, the judging team and officials stayed out in the cold as racing continued with the youths and the under 12 races. Gt Yarmouth CC made this event their club championship and won the award for the most riders even if they didn’t claim any podium positions!
By the time the senior race started, the sun had disappeared but the ground had thawed – the sandy hill was now very soft under foot and some muddy sections were appearing around the course.
The club had great representation in this race – Tim Guy, Chris Guy, Santa #1 (Ben Nicholson) and Santa #2 (Tim Bonnett), Lewis Grimes, Glyn Thomas and Simon Millard.
Whilst Andy Nichols (PCA Ciclos Uno) had got the League win sewn up there was still plenty to fight for and Tim Guy was definitely hoping to put his local knowledge to advantage and score his third win of the season.
The 50 rider field got away cleanly and as they disappeared out of sight all the usual suspects were at the front with Richard Dunnett (Diss CC) leading the charge. A leading group containing Nichols, Guy, Ross Tricker, Glenn Standford, Hayden Wood went through the end of the first lap pretty much together, with Dunnett, Phil Roach and Robert Hunt just off the back of them.
By the end of lap two, Tricker and Dunnett had dropped off with Roach moving up to the leading group. These five looked pretty comfortable in each others company – with Guy looking to have the advantage over Nichols on the run up the sandy hill.
However, as the riders came into view of the pits on lap four it was all change on the front with Roach in the lead, 8 seconds clear of second placed Stanford, with Guy and Nichols a further 6 seconds behind. A fall on slippery roots had knocked the stuffing out of Guy and delayed Standford and Nichols allowing Roach to move into the lead.
As the leading riders fought to get back up to Roach the other club riders were having their own battles further down the field. Santas #1 and #2 were having battles with their facial hair and Lewis Grimes was showing his usual commitment and determination – starting at the back of the grid he was carving through the field on his mountain bike – encouraged by plenty of partisan support from family and clubmates.
At the front of the race, Roach held his lead for all of the fifth lap with Nichols the first to get back to him and move into the lead. Guy and Standford tried all they could to bridge the gap but couldn’t make contact and the race finished with a win for Nichols, from Roach in second and a relieved Guy holding off Standford for the final podium position.
Chris Guy rode a consistent race to finish 11th, Santa #1 came home with his fairy lights twinkling in 17th, Lewis was an impressive 22nd, Glynn Thomas was 36th and Santa #2 held on for 40th. Simon Millard opted for an early pasty after 2 laps.
And so, after the racing was finished and the prizes presented all that remained to be done was to collect 140 white stakes and 4km of marker tape and return Shaun’s wheelie bins in time for Christmas!
Many thanks to everyone who attended in whatever capacity – you all helped contribute to a very successful Iceni Velo race promotion. But a special mention to the kitchen volunteers who had a permanent queue from about 9.30am until 4.30pm – what an incredible achievement to keep so many people fed and watered on such a cold day. After that, Christmas lunch will be a piece of cake!
Thanks to John Swindells for the above videos and Sara Flatt for all her help and the above report. Photo Gallery coming soon!