Cyclo-cross riders, fans and spectators in the south-east will have a special treat this autumn with the third round of the National Trophy series taking place at the South of England Showground in Ardingly over the weekend of November 10-11. With an event village, good food and great action, it looks set to be an amazing spectacle. But even better than that: if you take part in the Evans Cycles Ride It event on the Sunday, you’ll even get to do a starting lap of the actual National Trophy course. We spoke to event organiser Dougie Fox of Crawley Wheelers to find out how he has managed to put together such an incredible weekend of mud-plugging fun.
“I’ve been organising cross races for the past eight or so seasons,” Dougie says. “Three seasons ago there was a bit of a gap in the calendar, so I thought, I’ll put my hand up to organise a league race in the middle of the season. I managed to secure Ardingly South of England Showground as the venue and it’s kind of grown from there. The initial event we ran was a B category event and then the last two events have been category A events.
“It’s ended up that those events have almost been preparation to get a larger scale event. This year I was successful in applying for a national event, and it’s the first time for a very long time that a National Trophy race has been held in Sussex. So we’re really pleased to be awarded this and as the organiser, it’s quite an exciting proposition to bring riders of the calibre that you get in National Trophy races down to Sussex.”
Of course, organising club and local events is one thing, but when you’re dealing with national-quality riders and the sorts of facilities they require and expect, it means Dougie can’t do it all himself. So he is being ably assisted by his fellow members of Crawley Wheelers, as well as the wider local cycling community.
“I have a small committee of enthusiasts and riders to help me out with things. You’ve got to do that with an event of this scale. Yes, it does give me sleepless nights but Crawley Wheelers as a club is known for putting on good quality events and people have always been really appreciative of our efforts. So we’ve got a bit of a standard to live up to,” Dougie says.
“Predominantly my helpers are from the club, but sometimes it can be friends and family who are pitching in as well. I’ve had a couple of people come up to me at the last two London League races and they’ve said they are going to offer some of their club members to come and help. When that gets around, you find you have people coming from all over who say they are available and want to come and help. I think that is recognition that this is a big event for the area — it’s not just another Sunday race.”
Ride It yourself
And it’s not just the wider cycling community that are involved in running the event: everyone can also participate, simply by registering to do the Evans Cycles Ride It sportive (https://www.evanscycles.com/evans-cycles-sussex-sportive-cross-sunday-11th-november-2018-EV350772) that sets off from the Showground on Sunday morning.
“We’ve got a relationship with Evans Cycles that goes back several years, so we thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a mass-participation event that started at the same venue as the main race on a National Trophy weekend? Ride It riders will be able to start with a lap of the actual National Trophy course, do their full sportive route, then come back and finish in time to watch some great racing,” Dougie says.
“What an opportunity that is for people who doesn’t normally ride cyclo-cross races: they can ride a lined-out course that has pits, a quarry section, steps, hurdles, all that good stuff. They can ride round as hard or as easy as they want and I think it’s going to be great. Unless you’re a competitor, you wouldn’t normally be able to say you’ve ridden round the National Trophy circuit, but Ride It participants will.”
Even if you don’t fancy spinning your legs, there will be plenty to keep spectators entertained with Dougie promising a little event village with exhibitors, a chilli stall, the Crafty Horse mobile bar and burgers and fries available around the course. There’ll be plenty of noise, and all alongside the entertainment of some fantastic racing.
“Where else could you stand shoulder to shoulder with the country’s top riders?” Dougie says. “Cyclo-cross is exciting, there’s always something to watch, and it’s just a fantastic spectacle, taking things like steps and just doing things that you wouldn’t expect possible on what is effectively a road bike with knobbly tyres. Come along and see for yourself.”
To find out more, visit the Crawley Wheelers National Trophy page here http://www.crawleywheelers.co.uk/national-trophy/ or visit their Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/events/906006929603483/.