Three Club Championships have been fought for in recent weeks. The Welsh 12 hour Championship field contained only one Acme rider this year, Simon Kinsey, who in his first attempt managed to finish the toughest of his challenges with a total of 186.57 miles. This not only made him the Acme 12 hour Champion but also our Best All-rounder Champion for 2014.
The Welsh 50 mile Championship came so late in the season that ever-keen Simon was our only male contestant. He added our 50 mile title to his wins when he finished in 2-26-04, several minutes off his best in 58th place but was closely challenged by our veteran lady contestant, Fiona Davies, who finished just one place behind him in 2-26-59. Fiona was very pleased with her time which improved her personal best by 4 minutes 15 seconds. She is now keen to improve her aerobic endurance further during the winter with the intention of competing in an Ironman [ woman?] event next season.
Our Hillclimb Championship [21st September] was held on Barn Hill this year to separate it from the hillclimb series held on the Bwlch and present a different challenge. On a warm, bright morning everyone was really pleased to see the smiling face of Gwyn Humphreys back in his accustomed place as finish timekeeper. Series winner, Tom Stoddart, was unable to test himself on the short course because he was riding his first ever cyclo-cross race that morning but there was still a good fight for the title with nine riders sent off by Margaret and Roger Evans who would later present their donated trophy to the winner. While some were grateful for their low gears and pleased to see the top of the climb everyone gave of their best. The more serious contenders for the title, however, announced their arrival with out-of-the-saddle efforts accompanied by many gasps as they fought their way through the dense shade to the bright sunshine at the top.
Winner of the title was Dan Taylor in a fast 2 minutes 10 seconds which included a long flat stretch to the finish line situated well beyond the hill to allow riders and supporters to gather in safety. Second place was taken by Steve Williams in 2-27 with Carl Banwell taking an unexpected third place in 2-34 to remind everyone he will be back in competition next season. Carl pushed a disappointed Ross Morgan off the podium by just four seconds but Ross gave it his all and thought he might collapse from his effort near the top. Gerald Stevens proved he can still power up the climbs with his time of 2-43 while Simon Kinsey surprised a few with his 6th place in 2-57. Following his son’s win in the hillclimb series, Kevin Stoddart had to try and follow his example and finished in a creditable 3-06, just beating Kerry Lewis by two seconds. Young Alec Morris proved the effectiveness of his new cleats and shoes when climbing, making a great effort in front of his family to cross the line in 3-30.
Two Acme riders lined up in a bunch of 140 to make a start in the first Cyclo-Cross of the 2014/15 winter season. In unusually mild conditions riders were in for a fast race on the Llantarnam Leisure Centre course near Cwmbran. Tom Stoddard, a very talented Mountain Bike rider was riding his first cyclo-cross race for the club and following a number of training sessions with past Welsh Cyclo-Cross Champion Jeff Rees the two would make good progress in the race.
The 10 mile course started with 2 laps of a football pitch and 140 riders trying to gain position was a spectacular sight as they raced to get onto a narrowing course to complete the numerous laps. Undulating grass fields with a zig-zags up and down grass banks and 3 sections of single track through trees was the nature of the fast course.
With Jeff’s past experience he started well in the mayhem with Tom lying midfield and both quickly got into a good rhythm, passing riders as the race unfolded. Unfortunately Tom had a bit of bad luck when a piece of marshalling tape got caught in his back wheel and delayed his progress, but quickly regained his position close to Jeff where both finished in the first 40 riders.
Jeff and Tom both enjoyed their first race and will definitely be back for more although the conditions are sure to get a lot muddier and colder as the season progresses in one of the toughest forms of cycle racing. The Club Cyclo-Cross Championship will be decided in a single race this year so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.