Wednesday 1 July 2009

climate change and cross

Oh yes, crossjunkie examines all the big issues that other blogs are afraid to cover.......

Actually, sitting here in the middle of an 'official' heatwave (ie more than 2 days of sun), a recent comment from Mark Leyland (past NW Cross League Champion) got me thinking. Soothsayer Mark observed that his tire choice in future seasons would be restricted to file tread for the dry early season and Rhinos for the rest of the predictably torrential and muddy seasons.

A bold gamble or a vision of the future we could all do to take heed of?

In true investigative journo fashion, crossjunkie googled a choice phrase and pulled the definitive answer straight of the interweb in 30 seconds flat. Well, sort of.

At this point I need to lay down my credentials for such high class research. After an abortive career as a professional orchestral player I plumped for the most obvious follow up, a geography degree. Missing a trick by not becoming a geography teacher like any other self respecting outdoor loving person, I plunged headlong into a Masters degree in Environmental Change. At a time when even George Bush Jnr's disbelief in climate change would not have stood out, this was radical stuff. I can't remember much about it, though I got my MSc. I do remember having a sense of deja-vu over the past few years as various dire prognostications came to pass, most of which were being touted and summarily dismissed at the time of my degree.

So what of cross, that most rainfall dependent of cycling disciplines (except open air track racing....)?

Well I am happy to report that the future of proper, real, sloppy, mud type cross is alive and kicking, contrasted with some trumped up road crit style dust races at the beginning of the season. Just how will climate change affect cross in the region close to my heart? - witness these nice graphs from that esteemed body, the Met Office:

So, over time the North West will have 13% more rain during in Winter, with a slight reduction in overall yearly rainfall - sounds wet (and windy probably) to me. The average wettest day will also increase 13% - going to be some real downpours out there. Happy days.

And for those of you outside the North West? Don't bother - come and live here. House prices are still low(ish), the cost of living is cheap, pies are awesome and you can get a pint round the corner from my office for less than £2. If you don't mind being battered at some point in the evening.......

Indeed, those Yorkshire crossers will have a pathetic 243mm of winter rain to our 365mm. Pah! As for East Anglia, forget it - 165mm is the best you'll get, though the figure is 14.5% up from the present so it may feel a little muddy by comparison.

London? Actually they will get almost as much as the Yorkshire lot - 237mm winter average and a whopping 16% up on present. Might almost want to make me live in London. Perhaps not.

So there you have it - the North West is officially the best place to be a cross rider. It pisses all the time, and all courses are a mud bath. Except for September when it is too hot for cross.

Of course, these predictions are for 40 years time when even my enthusiasm might be waning slightly. So we might not notice too much difference in the immediate future. I'm still with Mark on this one though and will be running nothing but Rhinos all year even in heatwave July, just in case it rains a bit more. 2050 is still, then, a long way off but we have to think about the kids, right??
Must remember not to turn off those electrical items to standby, the lights, heating etc and get some real change going so our children can benefit from good old fashioned mud action.


Mark said...

What are you doing??? telling them about our mud, pies, cheap beer and houses!!! no doubt you'll be mentioning our wonderful cobbled streets next.
They will all be wanting to come up north and ride, we could end up with a rapha infestation!!!!

Obviously the heat has made you delirious as we all know the north is nothing more than an industrial sess pit. No need for anyone to bother to travel further North than the Watford Gap!

Dave Haygarth said...

doubt your enthusiasm will have died down at all in 40 years.

I was on Rhinos for the second national trophy race last year in very early November, and stayed on them all season. This year I'll be filing them down if it's dry cause I'm too stingey to buy any file treads.

Oh - and you've just made it rain here. Thanks for that.