Grim conditions fail to deter Harrogate cyclists

Edwyn Oliver-Evans. (S)
Edwyn Oliver-Evans. (S)

An eventful final round of the Yorkshire cyclo cross league saw the return of the ever more popular Todmorden cyclo cross course on Monday, with its notorious cobblestone climb and fast technical descents.

However, after nights of heavy rainfall, the course seemed more brutal than ever, in comparison to recent years.

More and more of the course became unrideable as the races went on, due to the deep mud, which resulted in lap times increasing and bike changes more frequent.

With 117 competitors starting the veterans race, the already waterlogged course was turned into a quagmire before the first lap from riders warming up and inspecting the circuit.

Despite many running very low tyre pressures, large sections of the course offered virtually no grip or traction, with riders constantly having to switch between running and riding to maintain their momentum.

The additional issue of constant clogging of gears and brakes from accumulations of mud made one of the most technically challenging courses a true test. Steve Smales, riding for Boneshakers, made a strong start despite a deceptively flooded start area and was able establish himself in around 25th place.

As the Nidderdale rider began to settle into the difficult conditions, disaster struck when due to a mechanical problem, the 42-year-old was thrown over the handlebars whilst dismounting at speed.

Badly winded, Smales struggled to regain his rhythm and as a consequence dropped some nine places before taking the finish.

The senior race was the final race of the day, and started with a field similarly sized to the veterans.

This made the already horrendous conditions even worse. Now, about half of the lap time required running with the bike, to upheld maximum speed through the tricky conditions. Attempting to replicate the great result he produced at the previous round of the Yorkshire series, was Boneshakers and Harrogate rider Edwyn Oliver-Evans.

Also occurring at the previous round, Oliver-Evans got a poor start, although this time due to a touching of wheels with a fellow competitor, amongst the spray if the waterlogged start area.

This, however, did not bother the 16-year-old, with the technical aspect of the course very much in his favour.

After two laps, the Boneshakers rider managed to move his way up to a top five position, although a lot of grit and determination would be needed to keep hold of such a high position.

Oliver-Evans, however, was on good form and held on to fifth position all the way to the finish line, a result he regards as his best of the season.

He will be hoping to retain his good form and produce a good ride at this coming weekend’s national cyclo cross championships in Ipswich.