Good weather played a big part in Sunday's cyclo-cross event at West Buckland School. After a few days of rain the sun came out and dried the grounds around the school, allowing for a fast but soft course.
My name is George Armstrong. I have had a great cyclo-cross season 2015-16. I am the junior champion for the south west. This is my 2nd season doing cyclo-cross, in my heart I am a mountain biker but love the different disciplines to improve my fitness and training.
The sun shone on the Plymouth Life Centre which held the final round of the South West Cyclo-cross series on Sunday, 18th January. This final round witnessed more than 120 riders take on the gruelling course which had been set up by the University of Plymouth Cycling Team. The previous weeks rain provided a very slippy course which was only made harder by hair pin bends, off camber climbs and sticky mud, meaning riders had to pick up their bikes and run or stop to unclog jammed wheels.
Max Standen performed exceptionally well in the U8s, with determination straight from the starter's whistle, he managed to create a lead of more than 30 seconds on the first lap. Max was keen to make sure he kept the pressure on and increased his advantage on each lap, securing first place during the 5 lap race and finishing nearly 2 mins ahead of second place rider Oliver Robins.
[flickr_set id="72157649959272890" images_height="150" max_num_photos="8"]
The U10s and U12s started with riders being gridded for the final race, meaning both Edward Armstrong and Ellen Garnsworthy secured a place on the front row. Making a break from the start, Edward charged for the lead into the first corner, before tackling a very tricky downhill decent into a hair pin bend. Sam Medlyn from One and All Cycling and Leon Dawes from Pilgrim flyers took advantage of the situation to ensure the lead positions. Ellen Garnsworthy gave a good fight to secure her lead in the female U10s category. The 6 lap race was eventually won by Sam Medlyn with Edward coming in 3rd place. Ellen secured first place in her fight for the U10s girls title.
The novice race was up next which also included the Youth categories. Becky Cornwell was favorite to win the ladies novice section, however stiff competition from fellow team mates Katie Standen and Caroline Armstrong, meant she would need to go hard straight from the start. Briony Goldsmith from CSSH was able to push her way through the field and challenge Becky for the lead, however Becky was too strong and managed to hold onto first place all the way round. Fellow team mates Katie managed 4th place in her first ever race along with Caroline, in only her second event, securing 5th.
The youth race was fast straight from the start, initial lead was held by Gabriel Cox followed closely by Max Hindes. However at the first road crossing both riders took a wrong turn, allowing Max to gain an advantage on Gabriel. Gabriel and George Armstrong both pushed each other to the limit to try and catch Max, but where unsuccessful in the their efforts and had to settle for 2nd and 3rd places.
The main event had over 90 riders competing in the hour-long race. The course now resembling more of a mud bath rather than a grass field. This now meant carrying the bike and running was a main feature of the race, as riding was almost impossible due to lack of traction from the back wheel. Bike changes and a strong pit crew now made the difference between winning and losing. The first place teams were changing bikes every 2 laps so that brakes and wheels did not get clogged up with the sticky mud. Taw Velo's Darren Armstrong suffered a puncture on the first lap, meaning a bike change was required. Due to the hard efforts of his pit team (Edward and George) allowed him to change back to his original bike once the puncture had been fixed and secured 17th place in the vets category. Graham Garnsworthy managed a respectable 26th in the senior race. The race finally over, after an hour of running and riding through thick mud was won by Seniors Dextor Hurlock, Vets James Bovey, Lucy Allen for the women's and Charlie Mcfadzean for the Juniors.
Sunday, 4th January was round 13 of the South West Cyclo-cross series, which was held at the Plymouth City Motopark. The testing track which involved a number of natural obstacles such as mud, table tops and a cork screw ensured that riders endurance and technical skills where tested to the limit. Young riders Louis Garnsworthy and Max Standen battled for pole position straight from the start in the under 8s race. Max managed to hold the lead for a lap, before Louis managed to get past him. The pair had a strong lead over a group of 14 riders and finished over 30 secs ahead of 3rd place rider, Ben Goldsmith (CSSH). Max found the task more challenging when he got stuck behind a group of riders in the corkscrew.
[flickr_set id="72157649707816880" images_height="150" max_num_photos="8"]
The under 10s and under 12 race saw a field of 21 riders taking on a longer course with long stretch of mud and grass. Freddie Birchill from Certini made an impressive start managing to create a gap straight from the start, by the end of the second lap he had increased his lead by well over 30 seconds. Sam Medlyn and Leon Dawes both tried to regain ground on Freddie but could not reduce the gap during the 20 minute race. Taw Velo rider Edward Armstrong managed 6th place behind a strong team from the local club Pilgrim Flyers. Ellen Garnsworthy was able to hold on first place for the under 10s girls.
The under 14s and under 16s race also included the novice section for adults which meant around 20 riders took on the longer course, again with more obstacles included. The strong field of riders from Certini, Harry Birchill and Gabriel Cox tried to create a gap from the start, however Max Hinds (bike in motion) and George Armstrong (Taw Velo) kept the pressure on to make sure the race would be contested over distance and time. In the end the Plymouth team was too strong and managed to keep ahead, overall Harry managed 1st, Gabriel 2nd, Max 3rd and George 4th. Becky Cornwell from Taw Velo managed an impressive 1st in the women's novice section.
The main race held over the full course and lasting for an hour had 66 riders representing clubs from around the region. The track now in a poor state from the mornings races meant that thick mud would ensure a tough time for the adults. Graham Garnsworthy took the challenge of competing in the main race after winning several of the novice races. Now racing for an hour instead of 30 mins, meant that he had to work much harder for longer. His efforts were rewarded with a respectable 49th place overall.
The final race of the series will be held at Plymouth Central Park on Sunday, 18th January where Taw Velo will sending a team of riders and hopefully achieving a number of 1st places in the South West series. Full event details are available on the British Cycling and South West Cyclo-cross websites.
On Sunday, 14th December, Taw Velo riders made their way down to Falmouth Bike Park for round 11 of the South West Cyclo-cross league. The previous weeks rain made sure that riders where going to find the course very slippy and testing.
Louis Garnsworthy made an excellent start in the under 8s race on the shortened circuit. 8 riders set off from the start line, with Louis making a sprint straight off the starting line. Within a lap young Louis had taken a significant lead over the other riders. The course had a number of berms, rollers and steep off camber declines. Louis managed to remain in the lead for the full duration of the race and also lapped a number of riders.
Ellen Garnsworthy had a successful race in the under 10s and 12s race coming in first for the under 10s girls. In all 14 riders lined up on the start line for the 20 minute race, on a course that had now been extended to take on more twist and turns. Sam Medland from one and all racing made a very impressive break on the first lap and opened up a 30 second lead on second place Pilgrim Flyers rider. Edward Armstrong managed 5th in his age category.
[flickr_set id="72157649453923947" images_height="150" max_num_photos="8"]
George Armstrong, aged 15, entered the under 16s race which included the adult novice category and used the full track for a 30 minute race. The course was more in line with a downhill type event, top half of the course included a long section of the Falmouth Bike Park downhill section. More riders meant the track was now starting to deteriorate and the grass was turning into a mud bath, which started to stick to everything and make the task harder. Local riders who generally ride the downhill section found the Cyclo-cross course much harder and the different skill set more of a challenge. George was determined not to let local talent affect his charge on the league title, so made for a break on the first lap. His gamble paying off as on the second lap his was over 30 seconds ahead of second place rider. By the end of the race George had opened up over a minute and half on the second place rider and lead Novice adult racer.
The main race was next with around 70 adults taking part in an hour long race. Previous racing and practice laps meant the course was mainly now a mixture of mud, leaves and grass meaning cornering was much trickier and meant riders had to test all their bike handling skills. The whole course was much different from any other Cyclo-cross course, events are normally run over relatively flat circuits with some obstacles thrown in, however this was more of a 50% downhill and 50% uphill. The course contained a mixture of off camber cornering and a steep descents which transverse across farm fields, once down the hill the task would then be to climb back to the top tackling the mud, high steps and other riders. Excessive mud caused mechanical problems for a large number of riders with damaged wheels, punctures or rear derailleur problems.
Taw Velo's Cyclo-cross team once again achieved excellent results; this time at the South of England Regional Championship on Sunday, 7th December. Stover school in Newton Abbott hosted the 2 day event and thus provided a very scenic background to the long and technically challenging course. The whole circuit circled the main house and grounds with some very steep and tree rooted paths.
[flickr_set id="72157649254653117" images_height="200" max_num_photos="12"]
The cold crisp weather could not stop Louis Garnsworthy and Max Standen taking 1st and 2nd place for the top regional positions on the under 8s course. The pair led straight from the start, in a field of 17 from clubs representing the South of England, with both riders creating a gap of more than 30 seconds on the first lap. The pair worked together during the 3 lap race. George Dadswell, aged 5, also competed in the same event and found the long course very tiring. Edward Armstrong managed a respectable 7th in the under 12s race in a field of more than 20 riders and Ellen Garnsworthy taking 2nd place in the under 10s girls, making sure that her dominance in the girls category remains on target. George Armstrong achieved 4th in the tough under 16s race, with many of the riders from others parts of the South with some travelling from as far afield as the Cotswolds. The race became harder due to the wind increasing along with a spot of rain, making the course more slippery on very tight corners.
Becky Cornwell did not have as much luck in her first competitive race, venturing away from the novice category. Becky decided to race against more experienced riders, however due to very tricky ascent of the garden terrace, crashed heavy on the front wheel, meaning she had a long run back to the pits, to pick up the spare bike. During the course of the day, over 180 riders competed on the challenging course, as the day went on the mud became thicker and the corners very slippery and testing. The main race included vets, women and Juniors, over 130 riders took on the 40 min race, to determine who is the best in the South of England.
First was 'scooting' – with the left foot on the pedal as normal but pushing along with the other foot on the same left hand side of the bike. This manoeuvre came with promises that "you really won't fall over" from coach Darren Armstrong. This did turn out to be true but not without a few unclipping related close shaves!
Onto the grass next to link together dismounting, running, and getting back onto the bike. Keeping some speed whilst trying to remember in what order everything is meant to happen was a bit of a challenge but it did get easier with practice. We then got a feel for braking with some practice at stopping suddenly- finding the differences between front and rear braking and the importance of getting your body weight over the rear of the bike. A short slalom course tested our handling skills before some formation riding in the (fortunately empty) car park to get used to riding close to others. Being boxed in took some getting used to, especially when we swapped to riding in a row each using one hand. A long way to go towards Red Arrows precision, but it worked and it was clear that this skill is really valuable- for riding in groups on the road as well.
We then put everything into practice with a couple of laps of the grounds; sprinting uphill on long wet grass was tougher than it looked and tired the legs out just in time for a final bit of dismount and remount practice. We packed in a lot, stayed upright and had a good laugh along the way - a top Taw Velo training session!
Taw Velo Cycling Club had both a good turn out and good results at the Plymouth Cyclo-cross on Sunday, 23rd November. Six riders from the club made the journey down to compete on a very tough and demanding course that tested riders skills and endurance to the limit. The previous weeks rain meant that a water logged course brought on the mud (and lots of it!) making it even more slippery and gruelling. The riders had to endure off camber corners, trees and thick sticky mud which clogged gears and braking systems.
Louis Garnsworthy, in the under 8s race, bided his time and waited before attacking the first place rider at the end of the first lap. His determination to win allowed him to create a gap between himself and second place rider, Ben Goldsmith. Edward Armstrong managed to 5th place in the under 12s race. Tough competition from the local club, Pilgrim Flyers, meant that he had to work hard against their riders on home turf.
George Armstrong had a longer and more difficult battle in the youth race. Off camber hills and turns meant his bike handling skills and stamina were tested to the max. He managed to take second place in the 16s category, losing to Gabriel Cox of Certini. Novice winner, Graham Garnsworthy, had a tough course but managed to create a distinctive lead of over 30 seconds between the second place rider. Becky Cornwell, in only her second race of the season, secured 2nd place in the female novice section. Becky commented that just staying upright was her main priority over the difficult course!
[flickr_set id="72157649506648266" images_height="200" max_num_photos="12"]
The main one hour race saw over 80 riders competing for first place. Initially a strong consortium from Mid-Devon Cycling Club led the race with Andrew Parker and Oscar Wiessier creating a gap in the main field. Clogged gears and sticky mud making the whole process harder, along with sharp hill climbs and tricky descents. All looked good for the South Devon club until Dextor Hurlock decided enough was enough and raced for first place. Coming from 5th place he charged his way through the field and continued on to lead the race for the last few laps. With mud clogging every part of his bike, Darren Armstrong finished the tough race in a very respectable 44th place overall and 20th place in the veterans category.
The next round will be the South of England Championship at Stover School, Newton Abbot on Saturday, 6th and Sunday, 7th December. A large turn out of over 100 riders will race in the various categories, so thrills and spills are expected. Full event details are available on the British Cycling and South West Cyclo-cross websites.
Pave Velo held the 6th round of the South West Cyclo-cross series at St Austell, Cornwall on Sunday, 26th October.
The day started off with the under 8s race in dry conditions and still no sign of mud. A field of around 15 riders competed with Max Standen and Louis Garnsworthy fighting it out for first place. Max held a good lead over Louis for the first part of the race, until back markers made the race more complex. Max and Louis both ended up getting caught and it was Louis who managed to find a gap in the field and make a break away, with Max now chasing. Louis managed to keep a just ahead of Max which ended up in a sprint until the finish line.
The under 10s and 12s race started off with a younger rider from the South West making a break for the lead straight away. Young rider Toby Peters managed to create a half-lap lead until mechanical issues struck. Second place rider, Sam Medlyn from One and All racing now had the advantage, however Toby took on the challenge and gave chase, managing to claw his way back into first place. Meanwhile Pilgrim flyers rider Leon Dawes and Edward Armstrong from Taw Velo fought it out for the final place on the podium. Edward managed to keep a good lead until the final lap and after letting his guard down managed forth place overall. Ellen Garnsworthy continued with her domination of the girls race and once again managed first place for the under 10 girls, thus ensuring her lead and mission to win the overall girls title.
The under 16s and Novice race finished with first places going to, Taw Velo riders George Armstrong and Graham Garnsworthy. George took an early lead and set a blistering pace at just over 3 minutes per lap, second place rider James Bowen Camel Valley CTC and Novice rider Graham could not match the youngster's speed and skill on the course, especially when he was managing to 'catch air' going over the table top obstacles.
The senior race had a strong field of 83 riders. The course now being much longer and involving the 'brewery steps' meant riders had more of a challenge, not only having to ride through St Austell Brewery and resist the temptation of beer, but also had to contest with a series of steps and high banks and finally a bit of mud. The overall winner was Dexter Hurlock of Mondraker UK, who is ranked 13th nationally, gave a master class in Cyclo-cross racing.
Due to the dry weather, this weekends Cyclo-cross event at Escot dashed the hopes of many riders who had hoped to finally encounter some winter mud. The last of the warm sunny days meant that clubs and riders from around the region descended on the country park to take part in round 5 of the South West cyclo-cross league.
126 riders took part in the main event, 13 novices and around 60 under 16s competed in the other races. Racing stated with a field of 30 under 8s taking on the challenging course, consisting of mud, gravel and grass. The first of the races saw young Max Standen and Louis Garnsworthy from Taw Velo chase down the leader, Finlay Mcdonald, working together the two riders gave chase and ensured that Finlay had to work hard to stay in the lead. Hannah Foster also took on Sophie Radford for the top placement for girls across a challenging course. Also in this race was young George Dadswell, aged 5 he was one of the youngest riders to compete and managed 23 out of 31 with Lizzie Foster also finishing close behind him.
The under 10s and 12s race once again was dominated by the strong rider, Freddie Birchall from Pilgrim Flyers, however both Edward Armstrong and Chuck Harmer fought off tough competition to come in second and third. Ellen Garnsworthy once again showed true form and managed to win the unders 10s girls race for the 4th time in a row.
George Armstrong managed 3rd place in the under 16s and was able to fight off competition from the Taw Velo riders Simon Harmer and Graham Garnsworthy who competed in the Novice race. The combined race ensured that the younger riders had a tough time being chased down by Adults, however a strong performance from Harry Birchall from Pilgrim Flyers gave a master class in cross country riding.
The main race was held over a much longer course, that included the elements of the previous races. The 1.9 mile course had a range of obstacles, including some very steep sections and hidden tree routes. This was no challenge for the Mid Devon club rider Oscar Wiessler, who finally managed his overall win for the session, the junior rider managed to power his way around the course and ward off attacks from the main field of 126 riders.
There was a one-two for Mid Devon Cycling Club at round 4 of the South West Cyclo-cross series promoted by Taw Velo at West Buckland School.
Andy Parker won the main race ahead of team-mate Oscar Wiessler with Steve Davies, of Hargroves Cycles, third.
Dry weather meant the 1.6-mile course's tight corners, trees, gravel, grass banks, hills and jump boards threw up little resistance to the fast pace of the field of 79 senior riders. Organiser Darren Armstrong said:
"Without any seriously steep sections, we put in some hairpin corners on the long straights to try slowing them down. Natural tree obstacles did the best job of testing their technical skills"
Locals finishing in the top 20 were Southfork duo Steve Sage (10th) and Matt Locke (17th), with Mark Lees, of North Devon Wheelers-Southfork, 20th.
Lees's club-mate Martin Crocker hung on to 31st, ahead of Nathan Dadwell (48th) and Simon Harmer (52nd), of Taw Velo, and Braunton-based Ben Gody (59th).
[flickr_set id="72157649220774820" images_height="150" max_num_photos="8"]
Harry Birchill, riding for Certini, was first out of 22 youths and novices, finishing ahead of George Armstrong, from Taw Velo, and Oli Minto, of Plymouth CX.
Young Wheelers Sid Baldaro and Nathan Adams finished second and third respectively as they were unable to prevent Birchill's younger brother Freddie, of Pilgrim Flyers, winning the 15-strong under-12s race.
"Cyclo-cross has always been respected for the bike-handling skills required, with a reputation for distinguishing the summer road-racing talent. The sport is growing throughout the age groups. It is attracting more youngsters because any falls are likely to be only self-inflicted as there are no drafting advantages to riding in tight bunches"
Max Standen won the under-eight race, which attracted 14 riders, finishing ahead of Taw Velo trio Louis Garnsworthy, Joshua Kyle and Hannah Foster.
The winter Cyclo-cross season is underway, but without a drop of rain, no chilling wind and certainly no mud, riders at round 2 of the South West Cyclo-cross league could be forgiven for not realising. Undeterred by these mild climes, the Taw Velo youth team achieved further outstanding Cyclo-cross results; this time at Court Fields School, Wellington.
Another good turnout for the U8s saw thirteen riders line up for the first race of the day. Following a fast and frantic start, a group of six young riders moved to the front and started to pull away. Within half a lap though, this group had split as Taw Velo's Louis Garnsworthy and fellow competitor from Team Tor 2000 broke away. Louis stayed close in second place until the final incline on the final lap where, out of the saddle, he powered to the front. With energy level falling, and wishing he'd had that extra Weetabix for breakfast, Louis was caught in the closing stages and crossed the line in second place.
Two Taw Velo riders - Edward Armstrong and Ellen Garnsworthy - took their places at the start line for the combined U10 and U12 race. After another fast start, Ed was one of a group of five riders that quickly established itself at the front. Ellen, fuelled with confidence from her win at Bodmin, moved up from the rear of the field to be part of the chase group within two corners of the start.
The rapid pace, combined with some tight and technical sections, caused the lead group to string out during the second and third laps. Initially sharing third place, Ed's consistent speed, along with a hint of an attack saw him edge away and make third place his own.
Stamina appeared to be the key ingredient for Ellen as she moved ahead of tiring legs in the mid and final stages of the race. Stamina rewarded Ellen with 1st place U10 girls and 2nd place girls overall.
In the final 200 meters of the race, Ed had the chance to lap Ellen but, showing great team spirit, they raced side-by-side and the Taw Velo duo sprinted over the line together.
With youth coach Darren Armstrong acting as line judge, Ellen and Louis's Dad, Graham, was Taw Velo's adult representation. In only his second cycle race (the first was almost 25 years ago!), Graham was one of six riders that rode in the novice category; a new addition to the South West Cyclo-cross league this year. The 30 minute race was closely competed but as the final-lap bell rang, Graham had just enough left in his legs to stay ahead of the second place rider.
Cyclo-cross is often cited as the fastest growing cycling discipline and, with the enthusiasm of both the organisers and riders witnessed this season, it's easy to see why. Let's hope this growth and enthusiasm continues as we move to next round, promoted by Taw Velo, on Sunday, 5th October at West Buckland School.
Full details of the league can be found on the South West Cyclo-cross website.
With weather not typically associated with Cyclo-cross, round 1 of the 2014/15 South West Cyclo-cross league took place at the Dragon Leisure Centre, Bodmin.
On a tight and twisting course, a packed under-8s field opened the day's proceedings. Taw Velo's Louis Garnsworthy made a good start and moved up to second place on the first lap. Staying with the lead rider, Louis remained in close contention until the backmarkers were caught. Weaving around the backmarkers cost Louis time but he continued on strongly and finished comfortably in second place.
On an extended course, the next race of the day was the combined under-10s and under-12s. Taw Velo was again represented with Ellen Garnworthy, Louis's sister, lining up in the under-10s. With a range of abilities and ages, the field quickly spread out. But, within half a lap, Ellen was in first place in her category. Although lapped by some of the under-12s, Ellen didn't slow and opened up a lead on second place and finished a well deserved first.
Taw Velo's representation continued as George Armstrong lined up in the youth race. In a very strong field - that included the current national youth mountain bike champion - George was far from intimidated and made a solid start sharing forth place. Remaining neck and neck for almost two laps, George showed great patience and saved his attack until out of view in the wooded section. Reappearing a minute later, George had pulled away from the fifth place rider and continued putting distance between them for the remainder of the race.
Not to be outshone by his charges, youth coach Darren Armstrong lined up in the senior race. In a field of almost 80 riders, Darren's efforts were rewarded with 32nd place overall and 16th place in the veterans category.
Full details of the league can be found on the South West Cyclo-cross website.
Riders from around North Devon took advantage of the break in the weather on Saturday afternoon when Taw Velo held the second round of its Winter Games series at Petroc.
Around 20 riders turned up for the event which took in 3 different events, a Drag race, Keirin and a Cyclo-cross course.
The recent rain, gusting wind and very wet ground, just made the whole event much more challenging and allowed rides to test their bike handling skills.
This time round the cyclo-cross course was much longer and included a long hill climb, riding over grass mounds and 2 jump boards.
[flickr_set id="72157653968939175" images_height="150" max_num_photos="15"]
Riders as young as 7 braved the wind and thoroughly enjoyed competing with different age categories.
Louis Garnsworthy aged 7 from Crediton was determined not to be beaten and showed real determination by asking to compete the whole course and all the obstacles, his commitment was rewarded when he finished ahead of riders much older than him.
Darren Armstrong, Taw Velo youth coach, said: "All the young riders put so much effort into these races, they overcome a very strong head wind, soggy ground and a hill, however they all finished within a smile on their face.
"This is the second games and the riders are showing real skills now and fully participating in an emerging competitive sport, it's fantastic to watch and be involved in.
"There are a number of younger riders that are showing real promise, they are fully committed and give their all to racing, we also have a number of young girls that are holding their own against the boys."
The event was supported by Sport England with prizes supplied by Bike It Barnstaple.
- Louis Garnsworthy (20 pts.)
- Chuck Harmer (26 pts.)
- Charlie Tomkins (26 pts.)
- Isabel Howgate (12 pts.)
- Fin Mead (12 pts.)
- Charlie Hewlett (6 pts.)
- Ellen Garnsworthy (5 pts.)
- Kea Harmer (4 pts.)
- Ben Rowell (26 pts.)
- Philip Mogford (22 pts.)
- Edward Armstrong (18 pts.)
- Ethan Roberts (5 pts.)
- Tom Batchelor (4pts.)
- Fisher Chapple (3 pts.)
- George Armstrong (30 pts.)
- Jacob Allchorn (24 pts.)
- Josh Hawkes (18 pts.)