News: Event Preview – Ripley Castle Cyclo-Cross


Good cast assembled for some ‘cross jousting at New Years Day Cyclo-Cross at Ripley Castle north of Harrogate with prize purse of £1200

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New Year’s Day sees the first running of this event, promoted by members of Harrogate Nova Cycling Club and supported by our kind sponsors. The nine hundred year old Ripley Castle is situated on the A61 about two miles north of Harrogate which makes it easy to travel to on fast A roads from Leeds, Bradford, the North West and North East. The venue itself sits about 100metres from a priority gritted route should we face winter conditions.

The eight strong race organising team, led by Steve Smales, has sought the expertise of key members of the Yorkshire Cyclo-Cross Association with regards course design and layout to design a scenic and spectator friendly course that includes a wide range of technical challenges interspersed by plenty of fast open grassland stretches.

Given that the event sits in the run up to the National Championships, and that New Year’s Day is often a day for outdoor pursuits, it is anticipated that the event may draw large numbers of competitors, from a wide area, and this has been at the forefront of the course designer’s remit. Hence the designer, Tim Evans has worked hard to avoid bottlenecks as far as possible to ensure that competitors come away with the result they deserve.

The total prize list exceeds £1200 in value and the event will be offering equal prizes to male and female competitors.

From the gridded start competitors negotiate grassland in the deer park before dealing with some off camber sections where there will be undoubtedly difficult decisions to make regarding running or riding. The barriers will be another place for decision making and won’t necessarily be the full forty centre metres high to deliberately tempt the confident and provide spectators with some extra entertainment.

From the grass, competitors enter the castle courtyard up some shallow steps that the talented or unhinged may well choose to ride in a last lap decisive move if they’ve got the engine after the proceeding heavy section. The next three hundred metres to the line requires negotiation of some corners with tricky changes of surface including cobbles.

These could see an exciting ‘inside leg out’ finale should a group enter the finish together and it may well be that the experienced will seek to dispatch any company before this point. Following the line, riders drop onto a fast, off camber left hander that maybe has the potential to create Peel Park style hilarity should we have the blessing of wet weather pre race.

From there on the course takes to the twists and turns of the woods which include an almost unique circumnavigation of a huge tree with protruding roots where even the best technical riders will be faced with a dilemma, run close to the trunk or smoothly ride three times as far about eight metres out. On leaving the woods, riders may well be presented with a surprise or two that won’t alter the sporting outcome, but they might just bring a smile to the face in and amongst the pain mid race.

A key area of the organiser’s focus has been to deliver an event that is as good for spectators as it is to ride. A key feature of the event is that there course is about sixty percent viewable from a graveled terrace with a short walk of about forty metres allowing spectators to see, cheer or heckle their loved ones at close quarters a second time on each lap.

There has is special dispensation in place to allow dogs on the course, which is a deer park, on the strict proviso that that they are kept on a lead at all times. Ripley Castle have placed the substantial finish line tea rooms at the events disposal by removing all the furniture and laying on a bespoke cyclocross style menu, including a bar for spectators and post race refuelling.

A full programme of racing starts at 10.30am and it is hoped to have the course available for practice at first light. There will be an enter on the day, half hour novice race included with a 10.30 start time for first time adult riders.

All main races will be gridded based on pre entrants rankings, hence it is in competitors best interests to pre enter however enter on the day is available and everyone is welcome. The pit arrangements are convenient with easy vehicle access for equipment drop off with mains water should it not freeze. Post race changing and showering have been secured a short drive away at Killinghall Moor Country Park, a venue well known to YCCA Summer Series regulars.

The organising team very much look forward to running this event, and doing their best to give everyone a great day out be it to blow away the post Chrismas cobwebs, have a first try at cyclocross or perhaps sharpen form for the National Championships.

Please visit the website for links to course plans, video, more information and entry details.


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