The final round of the 2014 winter Yorkshire ‘cross league took place on a cold and icy Sunday morning. Braving sub-zero temperatures, and a skating rink of a car park at York Sports Village, a handful of Harrogate-based riders lined up to race.
The course designers had made excellent use of the terrain – off camber sections, the fast tarmac of a small section of the race circuit, steep climbs up (and down) the outer banking of the velodrome, white knuckle drop offs and bunny-hoppable hurdles.
First up in the Youth race was Boneshakers Race Team’s Gus Gardner. Gridded in the front row following a solid ‘cross season, it was elbows out for the field of fifty in the dash from the whistle to the first tight hairpin and a tricky off camber section. Held up by a slip from a rider in front, Gus had to work hard to keep in touch with the leading group. The cold conditions helped the course to stay fast and firm, and Gus finished in 8th place – surely enough to earn him a top five place in the overall Yorkshire Points League.
Next up were the youngsters – Joe Sarmiento was Harrogate Nova’s only representative. As the wintery sun started to shine, parts of the course started to soften up, leaving muddy corners to navigate, and making the off camber sections more treacherous. Joe finished in 15th in the under 12s category.
After a break to allow the course organisers to make some minor tweaks, it was the turn of the juniors, seniors and vet-40s. With nearly a hundred in the field, there was lots of jostling for position along the fast tarmac start to the first muddy corner. Riders were forced to ride closer and closer to the tape, trying to eak out time spent on “green” sections as the thawing ice made for lots of “gloopy” mud. Jack Clarkson, Hope Factory Racing, made the course look easy – taking yet another win. For local rides, there were the usual hazards and mishaps along the way that makes for great ‘cross. Boneshakers Race Team Bobbin Gardner finished 6th junior. Ted Sarmiento, CX Magazine, finished 31st in the vet-40 race. Despite spending much of the race running in a top-20 position, Josh Gardner failed to finish, beaten by a broken rear mech.
For the final race of the day, as the temperatures started to dip and the shadows lengthened, the ladies and gentlemen (vet-50s) took to the line. The Harrogate Nova duo of Tim Evans and Neil McLaughlin resumed their close fought racing, with Neil ending the afternoon on top in 6th place and Tim a close 8th.