Yesterday, British Cycling brought the second round of the National Trophy Cyclocross series to Beaumont Leys of all places.
Gary Coltman and his band of Leicestershire Cycling Association (not just Leicester Road club) helpers did a great job looking after the riders with a challenging course. Given the area he had to use, he managed to fit in a start finish straight on tarmac, a section of BMX track (think steep climbs and drop-offs), plenty of off-camber corners, sections through trees (and leaf mulch) and a steep climb with a couple of hurdles. Being a British Cycling event, there were certainly some top riders there along with the usual photographers and even Hugh W Porter MBE.
It was excellent, free entertainment with close fought races and competitors ranging from 3 (really! DoB 2008) to 70 and a pretty friendly atmosphere throughout. It seemed that most of the audience were in some way related to the competitors as they all knew the riders and shouted support using their first names.
There were also plenty of Flemish voices supporting the large number of Belgian riders that had come over (to win).
So, a free event on a lovely day. Excitement, drama and friendly people. All close to a major city and only 200m from a giant Tesco megastore.
But still, very few people came to watch. The car-boot sale on the car park of Tesco was thronged with people aimlessly shuffling by the tables of tat before heading off to MacDonalds.
Next year, the club and I are running a city centre criterium event and while the priorities will be just the same as for this weekend’s organisers (to look after the riders with a safe but challenging event), we really must try to find what the secret is to attracting regular ‘punters’.
I went along with a plan of taking a few pictures that might help Gary – or whoever else might organise something similar in Leicester – with future promotion. Being my first cyclocross event, I had the pre-conceived idea that I’d desaturate the pictures for the gritty, muddy look, and that is what I did.
On reflection, I probably did a lovely, autumn day a something of disservice.
If you’re at all interested, you can see a few more of my pictures over on FLICKR
. I reckon I’ll cheer them up a bit before offering them for promotional use.
I rode home thinking if I have all the bits I’d need to build a cyclocross bike and you know what? I think I do…