Ixworth town centre races are a reminder of how exciting and accessible cycle racing was in the UK through the 1980′s and 1990′s and how it is still run in mainland Europe today. In its heyday, each local club would arrange for a town or village centre to be closed for the afternoon and hundreds of regional and national racers would descend to spend their pocket money in the local cafe’s, shops and resturants and entertain a large crowd of spectators with some thrilling and close racing. The circuits were usually less than a mile with tight corners, short sprints and exciting team tactics. The races lasted between 20 and 40 minutes – enough to challenge the riders but not enough to bore the crowd! Alas, the town centre races at Great Yarmouth, Gorleston, Norwich, Bungay, Diss etc etc are now infeasible due to relaxed Sunday trading laws, the cost that is now involved in shutting a road and the red tape that our health and safety policies now stipulate. At Ixworth however, the Mildenhall based West Suffolk Wheelers club do make it all happen each year and GYCC members were not going to miss this one.
John Swindells was first to taste the rapid and agressive racing and finished at the end of a bunch but with a big smile – i am sure it was a smile…
The u10′s and u12′s saw young Tristan Swindells ride to the end and Rowan Baker finish a strong 11th from an impressive U10 field. Seth Houlgate maintained his great record in these events and also finished 11th which is even more impressive as he has only just moved up to the U12′s age group.
In the U14′s event we had a bigger collection of riders. As the race started the rain fell and the tight and twisty circuit became an even bigger test of skill, fitness and nerve as the rain greased the bends. The young riders, unlike their parents, seemed unfazed. Now riding for national racing team Inverse Racing, Zak Coleman hung onto the lead group despite a heavy cold. Staying with Zak was Patrick Manning who worked strongly in the group and his lack of circuit racing experience did not slow him down – although maybe his racing colleagues allowed him to do too much of the work and he blew with a couple of laps remaining. It was a brilliant ride from Patrick and he is learning every race – well done. Behind this bunch saw Matthew Baker and Ben Turner battling in a group of boys and girls who looked more like 18 than the age 12 of our two lads. They worked hard, displayed grit and stamina and dropped several riders from the group with Matthew just beating Ben to the line. Next up were Dan Swindells and Harrison Charlwood who took a real battering in the early stages. Dan dropped back to try and help Harrison but it was in vain. Harrison bravely carried on and fought to the finish and Dan finished between Ben’s group and Harrison.
Despite the rain, a mix up with the formal results and the chilly wind all the team enjoyed their day’s racing. The regular coaching sessions at the Great Yarmouth Stadium are improving the team performance with every race (see www.greatyarmouthcyclingclub.co.uk). Well done GYCC and well done Ixworth.
Hillyfields cyclo-cross was not as bad as it sounds! It was mainly flat with a few steep, sharp, short hills. We had a great team of four: Zak Coleman(12), Dan Swindells(11), Rowan(10) & Matthew(12) Baker.
In the under 12′s there was a two man GYCC team of Dan Swindells & Rowan Baker. Dan rode a strong race to a brilliant 5th place, with Rowan rode a resectible 15th place a great under 12′s result!
In the under 14′s we had Zak Coleman & Mattew Baker to show off the team jersey. Zak rode to a great 6th position, 3 places above Matthew who finished 9th.
This years Tour of Britain – the UK’s biggest free spectator event – visited Norfolk on Saturday 17th September with a fantastic finish along the elegant avenues of the Royal Estate at Sandringham.
It is over 12 years ago since Great Yarmouth had a presence in the professional race with local talent Glenn Holmes who held his own and made a spectacular lone attack through the challenging Cheddar Gorge. Glenn has recently rejoined GYCC and supports the club’s drive to develop the next batch of fresh talent. On Saturday, GYCC entered a team into the prestigious Team Sprint event which gives teams of four 9 and 10 year old riders the chance to race in front of the huge crowds that swarmed to the Stage finish line.
The GYCC team of Elle Turner (9), Archit Lal (10), Rowan Baker (10) and Seth Houlgate (10) had spent clubnight sessions training and practising for the exciting team race. Just before their first round race against the Bourne Wheelers team from Lincolnshire the rain fell and made the course treachourous. On the first lap, disaster struck and with the team pushing hard they misjudged the grip of the greasy surface and fell. They were immediately back on their feet and the team held their nerve and composure and cooly rode their way back up to their opponents and where narrowly pipped in a breathtaking finale. Their time – thanks to the slippery conditions and the fall – was much slower than their potentail and the times they had been recording in training. However, it was still enough to take the team into the 3rd place final again against the Bourne Wheelers. This time, with the surface fully dry the GYCC team did not disappoint. Archit led the team on the first lap and exploded from the start gate to quickly set the pace and build an early lead. Elle, the youngest rider in the team, took the lead for the second lap and maintained the advantage before handing the lead to Seth who rode smoothly and calmly before Rowan found the energy to push extremely hard on the last lap to stop the watch to record the fastest time of the day which sealed 3rd place.
The team earnt the honour of being awarded their bronze medals on the official race podium cheered on by a huge crowd that was eagerly awaiting the professionals but thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm, passion and committment of the young guns. The commentators, officials and the crowd gave the team a day they will never forget – until that is they perhaps match Glenn’s outstanding achievement of 12 years ago and become one of the main attractions at the Tour of Britain…
GYCC run coaching and training sessions every other Saturday at Great Yarmouth Stadium and are hosting race days for young riders and novice adults at County Hall on 25th September and 9th October. At all these events the club can provide road racing bikes and helmets – come and have a go!
On Saturday 10th September Norwich ABC held their open 10 mile time trial on the familiar B10/43 course (Bungay bypass). The usual culprits were joined, for the first time, by John Swindells, known only to myself as dad of stadium regular Dan Swindells. I’d heard that he had put together a time trial bike from a collection of old parts and so, was interested to see how he’d fare. John was off before myself and he didn’t arrive with much time to spare, so I missed the chance to make encouraging noises and wish him well before he’d disappeared off to the start. I felt a bit bad that I hadn’t been more supportive but I shouldn’t have worried!
Neil Turner 22:12
John Swindells 23:09
Chris Roberts 23:27
Adam Houlgate 23:58
Roger Farrow 25:10
Neil was placed seventh overall, Chris won third veteran on standard, and because of John’s effort Great Yarmouth won the team competition! Actually, that’s the second time this season that this has happened, to my knowledge. The competition was judged using the Bidlake system, whereby teams are ranked by the time of their third rider. We only won by a second so “yes” Chris, “that blurred vision was necessary.”
As the time trial season draws to a close I think we can say that Great Yarmouth have been well represented. We’ve seen the club 10 and 25mile records fall and had members present at most local open events. We can win a team prize with our fastest three riders and even field a couple of reserves!
PS (from Neil): Adam forgot to mention that this was a another Personal Best for himself and he broke the 24 min barrier for the first time having recorded 24.00 exactly in his previous outing! Another milestone – well done Adam…