Adrian Dalgleish organised on behalf of the Lune RCC their last Open promotion of the year – round six of the North West Cyclo-cross Association league 2008/9 – on a new course at Halton Army Barracks, near Lancaster. This is the fourth venue for this now annual event and with a course that was well received by the riders, a convenient venue for riders and spectators to reach and the intimation of a welcome next year it is hoped the event has found a ‘home’ on which to build on it’s already fine reputation.
The days racing started with the ‘Youth’ events and Sunday saw the largest turn out for the recently formed Salt Ayre Cog Set. Lancaster’s own Go Ride club was formed 12 months ago and has seen a significant increase in membership during the past few months with 40 plus riders turning up for their weekly coaching sessions at Salt Ayre Leisure centre. Thirteen local young riders from the club turned out to test their skills and ability on this new course which has a combination of technical descents and grovelling climbs. All the youngsters proved their training had paid off as they made a significant impact in their respective races. First off was the ‘Youth U16’ race with a fine performance by James Jackson finishing in a respectable 12th place closely followed by team-mate and fellow Ripley St Thomas High School pupil Ruby Sadler Andrews riding a fine race to scoop up the first Under 14 girls prize and narrowly beating Central Lancaster High School pupil Gavin Neil.
Next race saw the Cog Set well represented in the ‘Youth U12’s. This race held on a slightly shorter course saw Fabian Brennan finish in a hotly contested sprint for second place after putting in a fine performance. Fellow club mates also riding in this race included Oran Speakman (10th) and Tyler Lofthouse (13th) followed shortly after by Jessica McCracken in her first ever race coming a respectable 14th. The remaining riders all showing promising form on the day included George Scott (18th), Coralie Neil (19th), Bethan Abra (20th), Ellen Layzell (21st), Malcolm Neil (22nd), Chloe Lofthouse (23rd) and Xavier Brennan (24th).
The final race of the day was the senior race which, in the field of 80 plus riders, saw several locals competing including ‘Cog Set’ club coaches Paul Andrews & Mark Brennan and the Lune’s Ashley Finn riding his first cyclo-cross event. Andrews made a great start to his race well up in the field but suffered the inevitable by way of a puncture half way through the race. Finn, a first cat roadman but novice at this branch of cyclesport, started off steady, not quite used to the change in style of clipless pedals favoured by the cyclo-cross men. Brennan also started steady but with increasing pace as the race progressed flew past Andrews, staying ahead of him for the remainder of the race. At the head of the race Ian Bibby (SiS Trek) and Johnny McEvoy (100% ME) set a hot pace and soon had a lead. Ashley Finn soon got into his stride and as the race developed and the two climbs took their toll he started to claw back up the field into the top ten. Meanwhile Bibby romped away alone into a serious lead that he would keep till the end. However bad luck struck Finn as he punctured after 45mins, causing a loss of several placings as he rode half a lap on a flat before getting a replacement wheel from a resourceful support team of Scott Morley and Matt Cronshaw. In the closing laps Bibby began to lap the field with consummate ease taking a fine victory ahead of McEvoy and Rob Pugh (FB Mailings) while after nearly crashing, falling off and puncturing Finn claimed a well deserved tenth place in his debut race.
In what turned out to be a great race for all concerned on a well constructed course many thanks must be paid to Adi Dalgleish for his fine organisation as well all those helping with the running of this fine event. Thanks also to the ‘Salt Ayre Cog Set catering crew’ who were also on board supplying great refreshments for the day to all riders, spectators and even the occasional lost army recruit!