Last weekend brought the opening of the 2015/16 Cyclo-Cross season, a form of racing undertaken in winter months that is great for maintaining fitness as the weather deteriorates, and also helps riders to develop good bike skills that may well come in useful at later stages in their road careers.
The first race in the North West Cyclo Cross Association (NWCCA) league was held at Hoghton Tower, nestled between Blackburn and Preston. The grounds of this stately home provided a splendid location for the first event organised by the Red Rose Olympic Cycling Club.
The weather on the day was “comme ci comme ça”, but with heavy rain falling the night before, the ground conditions proved to be testing, especially at transitions from grass to tarmac.
Over forty riders lined up on the inclined driveway facing up towards the grade 1 listed tower, originally built in 1109AD, quite an impressive way to begin a race!
As the flag dropped and the riders blasted up the driveway it was Cory Edmondson from Cycle Sport Pendle who took up the lead by the time the riders reach the tower.
After half a lap, two riders had joined Cory at the front of the race: Lewis Hartley from the VCUK Inspire Racing Team and Craig Rogers from Birkenhead North End.
These three were all keen to put a marker down in the first event and it didn’t take long for short sharp attacks to come from Lewis and Craig, which put Cory under pressure who was eventually distanced.
As the laps passed by it became clear that Lewis had the edge on the technical aspects of the course, managing to gap Craig but also allowing him to get back on for a few laps before making a really hard dig in the latter half of the race to forge an unassailable lead.
By the time Lewis passed the finish line for the penultimate time and the lap bell rung out, he knew he had the win in the bag, bar any punctures or mechanicals, and was able to ride to a comfortable victory!