Sundays Orange racers had their work cut out to keep up with our veteran riders of Saturday, but they were going to do their best to put on a show and have some fun on their bikes! An early start for the Magspeeders to get their spot in the paddock, gazebo up, bikes out, kit on and then it was time to hit the circuit for first practice! When we say ‘hit’, thats exactly what Blighty did, first corner, first ‘get down’…first impressions… SLIPPERY! Plenty of laps for the team and what muddy laps they were after lots of overnight rain! Completely different riding conditions from the previous days racing and with the amount of rain it actually made some of the sections easier to ride, due to the mud being a lot sloppier rather than sticky, which tends to make good friends with your frame, tyres and mech!
With practice laps done, bikes cleaned again and ready to roll, it was time to eat and get ready for the races. Up first for the team was Henry in the Junior Men’s race. After a tough winter for our youngest rider, coming into the season having been ill in the summer, he started on the back foot! But our young man put in a solid performance against the pack of seriously fast Juniors! Henry rode well in the very wet and muddy under tyre conditions and showed his bike handling skills were upto scratch, riding some of the more technical sections that others weren’t. A decent race in which he left everything out on the circuit and a mid pack result wasn’t to be sniffed at, nice one Henry!
A gap in proceedings for another practice session, but the teams riders chose to sit it out after extensive practice in the morning and got ready for the afternoons races, the final races of the weekend. First up was the Elite/U23 Women’s race and we had three riders in the form of Di, Phoebe and Nat Jenks. Both Phoebe and Di have raced in many a National level race over the years but this was Nat’s first ever National Championships and only her second National level race, this being her first season of ‘cross, quite the undertaking and we were all right behind her! With a line up that included some British pro Cyclocrossers, it was going to be a hard day in the saddle but our girls did not let it phase them! Di got a cracking start as was at the pointy end of the race but more than one mechanical meant that she didn’t quite bring home the result she seemed to be on the way to getting, but still, despite the problems, finished 13th overall and 7th in the Elite Women’s category. Behind Di, Phoebe and Nat were having a great tussle and where battling with each other and other riders all race and both rode super strong races in the deteriorating conditions (slowly drying mud in places was making for tougher going). The pit crew were on fire, managing to get bikes cleaned and back to be swapped whenever needed (despite having a football field to run across to get to the other side of the pits) and this kept these three in contention for the best possible result they could achieve. Phoebe and Nat eventually coming in 24th and 26th respectively in the Elite Women’s race, cracking stuff!
Last race of the day was the Elite Men’s/U23 race and we had another three of Team Orange racing, Sam, Nick and Scotty and they were all raring to go! With the strongest line up in years (due to the explosion of British Cyclocross talent) it was going to be a tough ride/run! Our three were a little spread out on the grid, Sam (20th), Nick (32nd) and Scotty (64th) in the 90odd man grid of the countries top riders. 2.30 came and the whistle blew and they were off and our lads all good decent starts! Sam hit the first corner in a great position and due to the nature of the first section of the circuit, it was messy, with crashes and very tight for space on the switchbacks, but Smithy made his way through it unscathed and found himself in the top 10 and as they hit the first long off camber section, the majority of the riders opted to ride/scoot, whereas Smithy just ran and ran – he then found himself in the lead!!! First time past the pits and look on our pit crews faces must have been priceless and then s**t got real, quite literally as the, by now obliterated circuit was VERY muddy and it was time to hold on for grim death! Sam stayed in the mix with the big boys and put in a very strong performance and brought home a 20th overall and 10th in the U23…such a great result for the first year U23! Behind Scotty had made a great start and was on Blighty’s wheel within the first section of the course and the Magspeed pair rode much of the first lap together, with Scotty nipping ahead of Nick before the wooden section and seconds later found himself sliding across the ground on a tricky fast and rooty corner which appeared to be catching out a fair few people! He picked himself up, as Blighty flew past and then the boys in orange rode in formation for a little longer! This pair both rode strong races and gave it their all in what was much about running speed as it was riding speed and turned into a properly epic race!
Finishing the race, the team congregating, congratulating and chatting was a very cool thing to see, chatting about the race, the sheer muddy-ness of it and then all heading back to the vans and more chatting and smiling! The pit crew still hard at work tidying everything up (these guys SMASHED it all weekend!!!!) then Scot came running to the teams camp set up with the words… ”boys, you need to get to the podium, you won the team prize!”. It was safe to say all three thought he was joking, but no, we’d done it, Team Orange had won the team prize in the Elite Men’s Cyclocross National Championship race, MINT! What an absolutely bloody amazing way to end the weekend and one BIG team effort, pit crew, team support and bike riders…Nationals Champs 2020, safe to say that we all left with big smiles on our faces!