Monday, 4 March 2013

Morvelo City Cross

They think it's all over.....well it is now. Just when they thought the winter cross season was put to bed, up pops an unruly upstart of a race to eke out a little more mud and fun before the long summer months draw in and us crossers long wistfully for cold wet December days once more.

Originally scheduled for a suitably grim-up-North derelict mill in Halifax (see this vid), by a convoluted and presumably somewhat stressful twist of fate, the whole event ended up at nearby location evocatively named Shroggs Tip. Not being known as one of Halifax's beauty spots meant Shroggs was perfect for this gritty urban evolution of UK 'cross racing. Think short and very sharp course, 20 minute heats or motos, scaffolding flyovers, a sand pit, cowbells, jumps, uber steep run ups and best of all a corner with cabbage-throwing kids lurking and heckling and you have the correct recipe for 'cross mayhem. With Planet X/On-One's very own Brant djing everything from Guru Josh to the 'Jim'll Fix It' theme tune from a custom Red Bull sound-truck, there was certainly an atmosphere across the Tip for the large number of spectators watching.

Local and recent 'cross convert Emma Osenton (I've taught her at least a quarter of what she knows...) worked like a trojan with her team of helpers to put on a unique event that was as hard on the legs as it was fun to ride. Not wishing to seem too keen and suffering from a severe case of 'my season is over you think I want to race?' blues, I tried to make sure it was debatable as to whether I would qualify for the final whilst extracting maximum fun. Unfortunately I miscalculated and found my name on the riders list for said final. With an hour to kill, the best option was to scoff a load of fresh wood-fired pizza from one of the many great food stalls, and man up for a proper race. For 20 mins. Which hurts I can promise you, as it became like the start of a cross race that never really settled down and just carried on at the same breakneck pace, with no rest between the many obstacles on the course.

Pic: Jo Hanglebads

Honour was sort of saved, I smiled for the hecklers and enjoyed the whoops and berms, and as ever the perversely steep run ups. So did everybody else I gather, revelling in the new format and new style of racing. I still want to carry on with good old fashioned 'cross races round a muddy field with a few hardy souls watching out of a sense of duty - that is the heart of cross for me - but City Cross has just won a place in my heart too as an alternative to the seriousness and geekery of full-on 'cross as it was just bloody good fun.

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