Preview: Rossendale Road Club ‘cross, Marl Pits, Rawtenstall, 18 Jan 2020

Race organiser Graham ‘Lefty’ Wright and Rossendale Road Club / local friends welcome riders to Marl Pits Sports Centre, Rawtenstall, for Round 10 of the North West Cyclocross league.  Marl Pits is a venue new to almost all of you. Anyone who rode MTB in the 1990s and early 2000s may remember mountain bike races there, but they are very old people now, and most of their marbles were lost some time ago.

Rossendale Road Club have put on courses at several venues over the last few years, but the venue blues have kept hitting in various ways. All involved are hoping that this is the first of many races here. 

You can see the Race times and Entry details here



Marl Pits is home of Rossendale Harriers Athletic Club, whose annual December cross country race means that if you ask any cross country runner if they can reduce the two words “Marl Pits” to a single word, they will answer “Mud”.  

But we’ve made every effort possible to use all the hard surfaces on offer to bring you a spectacular and memorable course. If you know course-designer Dave Haygarth, you’ll understand how hard it was to stop the entire race being one long carry of the bike that would make the Towneley Park Northerns look like a cosy indoor velodrome. But a course has been created, nevertheless, with more than half of its length rideable in ANY conditions. 

With the exception of one killer of a carry-up a muddy bank, all of the climbs are on hard surfaces and will be ride-able by any rider. 

There will be dismounts on the course generally limited to places on the flat that naturally become waterlogged, and some of the grass will definitely deteriorate fast, but other parts will stay intact and flow well. 

There’s a swashbuckling descent/drop-off, rideable by most, and several sections where a good line will get you time, but like most courses in this wet season, it will also reward the strong and persistent rider who gets their head down and grits their teeth. 

Thanks to the following regular NWCCA riders who have all helped design and guinea-pig all of the courses:
Dave Haygarth, Elsie Haygarth, Roy Flannigan, Phil Simcock, Ciara Simcock, Andrew Burgess, Paul Julien

A senior course lap ridden here on YouTube ….

Senior / Veteran course


There is one loop at the northern end of the course that lends itself to being taken out of the Youth course.  There’s also a really testing drop-off that has been re-routed and just makes a still-pretty-scary drop-off for the Youth course.  As a result the lap will be around 75-90 seconds shorter. 

U14 / U16

U12 / U10 / U8 COURSE

We’re keeping the course off the deepest mud wherever possible but riders will definitely need to dismount a couple of times on their shortened lap.  Under 12/10 get a trickier descent and a longer lap than Under 8s, but all should be entertained (and tired) after their events 

Under 12/Under 10

Under 8



There’s a generous pit (incorporating bike washing area separated from pit chaos) marked on the map.  Water will NOT be available at the venue so please bring your own. You should NOT wash any bikes outside of the pit area. To explain that in more detail

  • Please do not wash your bikes in the car park
  • Please do not wash your bikes at the side of the road
  • Please do not wash your bikes anywhere other than the pit area. 

The pit area is marked on the map below. 

Pit area marked orange

The pits are goofy – meaning that they have had to be designed so riders enter them with their helpers to the LEFT rather than the more traditional right side. Pit helpers are welcome to observe normal rules on that and stand on whichever side they like, but must not obstruct any racers, or risk disqualification of the rider they are assisting.  On that note, it;s worth saying that both entrances to the pits are VERY slow because of the heavy ground. They’re at 1:30 and 6:00 in the video above. Highly likely that riders will be on foot at that part of the course. That removes some hassle of the goofy pit – it will be in slow motion…! 

WASHING bikes will be easy in the sense that there’s lots of room – similar to Stadt Moers 2019.  There’s no water available on site though – please BRING WATER… and be prepared to lug it a while… because …. 

ACCESS to the pits before the event will be a mild struggle compared to some other venues. Marshals will be on hand to direct you from the tarmac start/finish area to the pit. It will be hardest to access them when the U8 race is on, but that’s really 15 mins of the programme (11:20am) 


Marl Pits Leisure Centre is a lot of good things, but parking is not one of them.  The spaces that are there will fill up pretty quickly and you will be limited to parking where you can do nearby on Newchurch Road.  We’d love to use the venue again. A nice way to help that happen would be to park respectfully and as though you were parking outside the houses of your own friends and family. Please be respectful. 


We will either have a caterer on site or use Rossendale Harriers’ facilities in the club-house, next to the running track.  That means hot teas and coffees and other bits and bobs on sale. 


We have proper toilets and changing rooms available in the club-house next to the running track. We know that some of you like to go in the bushes for wee-wees, but it’s a bit daft when there’s such decent WCs on hand. Don’t do it. 


In the club-house by the running track.  It will be signposted. It’s warm in there, too. There’s a sign not to go upstairs in muddy footwear and people generally ignore that, but think on…! Someone has to clear up. 


There are no bins immediately next to the course. We will aim to have some bin liners near to the catering / start finish area. There are bins nearer the club-house and car parks, please take litter with you to those. That includes gel wrappers which don’t magically disappear. We’ve checked.



These will be made to the best of our ability as quickly as possible after each race, at the N-FUSE podium, right next to the finish line. 

If the weather is dreadful, we’ll do the same inside the club-house. 


Prize lists will follow normal NWCCA rules and it’s a preference to get prize-winning riders their money using Paypal soon after the event.