Month: May 2021

One final polish

We’ve spent a day tightening the tape and cutting the brashy overhangs. Course is all smooth, if maybe a little slick. There are a couple of low sections that could go either way; depending on tomorrow’s weather they will either get heavy, or grooved-out and quick. The showers have mostly stayed away and it’s forecast dry with heavy rain supposedly when we’re done and medals awarded.

We’ve made one significant change in our race plan;-
Youths and Juveniles will now start from the seniors grid but they will then go around the lower circuit anti-clockwise to join the course around 1.6km from the line. It’s marked in pink on the new course plan. This loop, added to a 20-minute lap will give the 30-minute race duration and the road circuit start loop will line-out the field ready to join the course on flat grass before a fun mound feature on the course which is not restricted on width. There’s also a bonus for supporters of young riders because the start, the loop and the first part of the off-road are all near to the Feed and Tech Zone #2 that comes at 1.4km from the line.

Here’s the new course plan, made to show the youth start loop.

You can download or copy this plan onto your smart phone.


Gridding the Regional Championships

Our Round 4 is also the Eastern Region of British Cycling’s Regional Championships on Sunday 23 May 2021.

It’s a pleasure to welcome some new riders to our course and we hope they will be enthusiastic about coming back to any race, but also to the second of our XCO races on Sunday 6 June.

Gridding will never be correct. Being able to predict the outcome of a race would hardly lead a person into organising races. Consideration has been made of rider performances in recent competition, but since there have been so few races and no ranking points there’s been a fair amount of skill and judgement (..guesswork) involved.

Riders are requested to note the grid line allocated and make their way to it, ready to start. Direction is facing away from the hill, ready to head up the Hoggenberg and along the hedge before riding the infield section to start lap 1.

Gridding for the Men and Women’s separate races
The Veteran Men’s grid, with separate sections for 50+ and 60+

There will be a Feed and Tech Zone with service points at 1km and 4km into the course. Helpers must follow rules on social distancing outdoors.

Youth and Juveniles ride the full course and start from the main grid lower down the circuit
Under 12 & u10 riders race the short course and their grid is on the upper infield

Timetable for the day

Short course open from 09.30

10.00 – under 10  10mins short course
10.15 – under 12  15mins short course

10.35 – 10.40 Full course entry open for practice
11.00 – Youth & Juveniles 30mins

11.35 – 11.40 Full course entry open for practice
12.00 – Veteran Men 1h15

13.30 – Women (seniors, veterans and juniors) 1h15

14.50 – 14.55 Full course entry open for practice
15.15 – Men; seniors and juniors 1h30

We are sorry not to offer a devoted practice session immediately prior to the 13.30 start but our volunteers need to get lunch and take a short break in the middle of a busy day.

If you do not have a Beastway MTB chipped number there will be one waiting for you at the distanced registration desk. This will be near the main entry to the building or on the verandah past the cafe, depending on wind strength/direction.
Riders already with a chipped number should be ready for their race and have pre-ridden the course with the number showing. Riders with numbers who are not entered will be taken off the course. Please do not ride on any part of the course during other races and certainly not without your number board fitted.
Do not fold your number board as you will be required to straighten it out and only use the tabs provided.
Yes please, if you are not intending to race any further rounds we would like your number board returned.

The course is riding very nicely since we raced it on Wednesday after a lot of rain had softened the ground. Long sections are on made trails which are not affected by rain so most people ride with a bit less grip than if the course was all earthen singletrack. We have amended the course slightly to avoid the worst wet ground in the lower woods. There are A and B lines in three places, all of which are signed. At the bridge crossover the B-line requires you to give way when passing across the live course in order to get to your continuation. At recent races there were very few takers on the B-line.

Course plan is the yellow line. Red shows the start loop and grid orientation. Orange indicates where the Feed and Tech zones are.
Under 12 & 10s course is cut shorter using lines in blue

Podiums are not allowed under the terms of ‘Return to Racing’ but we will set out awards for self-service when the time is right and we will tell you this on the PA, making a distanced medal pic opportunity possible. Medal awards are offered by BC Eastern Region for its championships and we will have an award for the winner of each race, regardless of region. Please give us a little extra time to make sure we have the three eligible riders from the complete category result. Regional medal awards, gold, silver, bronze will be made as follows;-
Juvenile M F
Youth M F
Junior M
Senior M
Vet M 40+
Vet M 50+
Vet M 60+

We will add awards for women winners in each category of that race where BC has determined that numbers entered are too low for an award in some categories.

The u10 and u12 events are ‘unofficial’ regional championships so we will award the winner of each race with this title.

British Cycling has categorised this event as suitable for the award of Regional A points on the appropriate tariff. We hope this will help riders with their gridding at national events.

In these times it is complicated to put on events and we will see what we can do with regard to a prize list.

The Centre is registered for Test & Trace and is COVID-secure. The pavilion will be open for toilets and lockers are open, but of course distancing, hand washing and mask wearing is all obligatory. Showers and changing rooms remain closed. Mask-wearing indoors and distancing at all times remain a condition of our presence. No groups of more than six, unless from a single household…
A distanced seating arrangement may be in place in the cafe which means a greatly reduced capacity, so the main focus will be on serving food to take outdoors. You will not be welcome to ‘camp out’ there. Kit left in any way that inconveniences other users is likely to be removed for later reclaim. Bring a Pound coin for the lockers – it’s returned after use.

Car parking is ample, but only if everyone parks tidily in rows. There is not room for mobile homes or team set-ups in these times. Overflow unrestricted parking is available along the opposite side of Forest Road from the main entrance.

Races and results

You’ll find all our race results on the Beastway Results server which Chris Clague has been working on, along with our own timing tech that’s way beyond off-the-shelf. And it’s a good thing too as we have a whole flurry of races coming up, including the BC Eastern Region Championships MTB XCO on Sunday 23 May, plus another XCO on Sunday 6 June as part of our whole series with nine Wednesday evening races from May into June when we are also running the Beastway London Summer Cyclocross series across four races. That’s hundreds of racers and thousands of laps to record times for, then interpret into race results and series standings.
It’s only the chip in your number board that makes all this possible, so look after it! We do keep a manual scribe of rider numbers through the line, just like in the old days but we find riders really like the immediacy of getting results before they get home from the race, along with all the detail we can provide of lap times and race analysis.

So let’s look at the big race coming up which is the British Cycling Eastern Regional Championships.
Shhh, don’t tell anyone but here’s our course plan and some other info for riders;-

Like it says up there in big letters; COVID regulations apply. That means not coming if you have any symptoms or are isolating for any reason in your household. It means distancing, mask-wearing and hygiene. It means not crowding at start or after the finish. It means checking-in with Test and Trace. It means no motor homes in the site and certainly no overnight stays or camping. We’re still checking about the Feed and Tech Zone because these are self-service only until we hear otherwise and it certainly means any equipment that is touched cannot be shared, which does make things a bit difficult unless you’re in a shared household. – Self-reliance is probably the best way to go, so carry some sealant and gas, maybe a quick-link, a bottle on your bike and away you go. Ride your luck and anyway a trip to the pits never won a race.
We do a contactless sign-on and only accept advance entry through British Cycling’s system. No pre-entry, no ride.
The cafe will be serving a selection of drinks, cakes and hot food to a distanced queue inside but you must take your refreshments outside. Toilets are open inside with distancing and a one-way system along the corridor.
There is lots of car parking on-site and even more along the opposite side of Forest Rd from the entry. Public transport is nearby, though you will need to check bike policy on trains to Goodmayes and underground to Fairlop which are within ten minutes’ ride of the Centre.
We need to find a way to distance the award of regional medals and prizes on each race as there is to be no podium.
BC are now awarding points. Our usual Wednesday evening blasts of one-hour, everyone on course with categories mixed is a Regional C points tariff. The regional championships is a regional A offering three times that points tally at precisely the time when points are very scarce and national events are coming up, where gridding can be key.

Our grid is socially distanced as regulations require. It’s 20 rows spaced at 3 metres with five places across an 8 metre road circuit. Yep, it’s 60m from the last row to the front. We prioritise based on known speed of each rider. It definitely helps if you’ve ridden with us before but we will also consider your licence status, if Expert or Elite, and we’ll look to find you in other race results. We rely on you to enter at least two days in advance of the closing date for consideration. Whatever, wherever you are gridded, that is one heck of a road climb and wide infield section from the grid to the line for first passage, meaning you can move up if we got your level of speed wrong.
Last things on gridding:- We try our best to get gridding just about right because we don’t want any bottlenecking AND our word is final so go to your allotted row and fit in. Starts will not be made with riders out of place and it will be evident who’s causing that delay, which may shorten your race and nullify any award.

Another thing that’s up there in big letters is that the Championships course will be subject to a test-run at round 3 of Beastway on 19 May. If you’ve not raced with us at Hog Hill before it’s worth a trip for you to get acquainted and for us to know from your result where to put you on the grid.
For the full series and race info, plus where to enter go to this page of the BC Events Calendar that lists all Beastway MTB races.

Note: You do not need to be a member of British Cycling to enter this race, and riders from all regions are welcome. In order to be eligible for the Regional Championships you must hold a racing licence from British Cycling and reside within the known boundaries of the Eastern Region. Check with BC if you have any questions about all that.

Here is the timetable for the day of XCO racing at the Regional Championships

Short course open from 09.30

10.00 – under 10  10mins short course
10.15 – under 12  15mins short course

10.35 – 10.40 Full course entry open for practice
11.00 – Youth & Juveniles 30mins

11.35 – 11.40 Full course entry open for practice
12.00 – Veteran Men 1h15

13.30 – Women (seniors, veterans and juniors) 1h15

14.50 – 14.55 Full course entry open for practice
15.15 – Men; seniors and juniors 1h30

We are sorry not to offer a devoted practice session immediately prior to the 13.30 start but our volunteers need to get lunch and take a short break in the middle of a busy day.
We would love to offer the razzamatazz of a podium presentation but it will have to be quiet pride for our race winners and regional champions as they pick up their own awards.
We are all always busy on race day. We’d love to stop for a chat and get around all the social media and messaging but we don’t because there just is not time. Please understand this is not us being unresponsive, it’s because we are concentrating to deliver a good event.
Have a great day’s racing and best wishes to the Regional Champions from your Beastway Team.

Venue address: Redbridge Cycling Centre (Hog Hill) Forest Road, Hainault. IG6 3HP

Getting into the groove

So happy to be back at the races, even with the pandemic provisions still in place. Actually the spaced grid has brought some benefits and seems a bit less frantic, so long as riders know their allotted row and go to it. The regular hill start going up the road climb whichever way brings a new dimension to the early phase of each race and it’s our aim to place racers alongside those of similar speed for close racing and fewer bottlenecks at the beginning.

Work over the winter to prepare the trails has been greatly helped by the first two races taking place just after bouts of much-needed rain that fell on rock hard dry clay. We actually use a rotavator to churn the sloppy ground in winter with the aim of giving it a second going-over and then raking to create that groove of fast flowing singletrack that gets its final polish in early races. You’ll find it around our courses this year.