National Trophy: Next Stop Shrewsbury

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After the British Championships in January, the best of British return to Shrewsbury for the final round of the National Trophy Cyclo-Cross on Sunday, December 11

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National Trophy: Next Stop Shrewsbury

After the British Championships in January, the best of British return to Shrewsbury for the final round of the National Trophy Cyclo-Cross on Sunday, December 11

Organiser is Dave Mellor from Mid Shropshire Wheelers, who after taking a big deep breath after promoting a cracking British Cyclo-Cross Championships in January, is back to promote an event that will be buzzing and it’s his and the clubs aim that they impress all those that see it and all on small budget as well.

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To find out more, I went to Shrewsbury’s premier bike shop, Dave Mellor Cycles which is utopia for anyone who loves the sport as all you lot do! Surrounded by hundreds of bikes including some serious bikep0rn, VeloUK sat down with a great supporter of the website, Dave Mellor, to find out more on the National Trophy round at Shrewsbury Sports Village.

As well as running one of the top bike shops in the country (it truly has a great selection and is worth the trip), Dave and his sons Ewan and Luke also ride cyclo-cross and so see both sides of an event; not just racing but the organising of one as well. Dave is also the chairman of the hugely popular West Midland league (over 800 registered riders) so has a lot of experience to call upon when organising important events like the Trophy race.

“We have a good committee in the West Midlands with Dave Garratt, the secretary, who is on the cyclo-cross commission, as well as some really experienced people like Pete Mooney who has organised Trophies himself at Mallory Park and Martin Eadon too; so really good people to work with” Dave explained.

“We haven’t gone overboard looking for loads of funding as the infrastructure is there and we’ll just get on with it and run the event as we have before” Dave explained.

He then explained how British Cycling keep a large chunk of the money generated by entries for prizes, chip timing and the podium truck whilst the organiser pays the rest of the event costs which is why entries are so important for Dave and the Mid Shropshire Wheelers.

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Ewan Mellor racing the Men’s events in the National Trophy

“I was a bit concerned last weekend when the entries weren’t coming in but I’ve seen the latest figures and it’s looking good and shouldn’t cost the club any money to run it. I think we can run the event with a budget of around £3,000 as a club thanks to all the volunteers.”

Having been organising West Midland league events there at the Sports Village and the National Trophy as well for a handful of years, Dave added they have all the stakes, tape and fencing to put on the event on whilst the council are providing the barriers for a small admin charge. There have been other obstacles as well, all with a cost involved, but these too have been overcome and it is looking good for the sport at the sports village which is a football venue first and foremost.

At a recent meeting there, there was a positive vibe about the future use of the venue for cyclo-cross which is looking good for the local club Mid Shropshire Wheelers sponsored by Dave Mellor Cycles. One of the issues from the championships was the damage caused by the weather and the pits and so for this year’s Trophy, there has been a lot of creative thinking going on to plan a course that will let them move part of the pits into the woods among the trees.

This will mean the pits are split but Dave is confident it will be within the rules and that the long term planning for the venue including some improvements to the course, will see the sport there year after year. Dave says to those expecting a muddy quagmire, that it has been so dry in the area that the course will be faster in a few weeks than it has been in the past. There is one section however that is currently under water from a water mains burst and it’s touch and go whether the course can drain in time and so the course may need to be re-routed a little bit.

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Spanking new 2017 Giant off road bike for cyclo-cross and much more. One of many bikes in Dave Mellor Cycles

The key bits
So the course will be tweaked as the riders will get to see in official practise on the Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning but crucially it still retains many of its key features that the riders either love or hate!

Think of the cyclo-cross at Shrewsbury and the biggest challenge is the long off camber section on the side of a hill. That remains as do the steps up the hilly bank that lead to the off camber section.

As for the speed of the course, that is very much dependent on the weather. “At the minute, the course is rutted so if it’s frozen, it will be rough” says Dave “but if we get some rain, and if softens and flattens, it will be superfast”.

Not as superfast as Ipswich with less tarmac that that venue but still faster than Shrewsbury has been for many of the years the event has been at the Sports Centre. The course, which many love for its technical aspects that test a cross rider’s skills to the max, will be, as mentioned, a little different in places.

“We have introduced a new section so we can use this new pit area but the course at Shrewsbury is still flat but not easy” Dave explained. “There are no changes in elevation other than the steps but as Nick Craig said to us a few years ago, the course is relentless and you cannot rest anywhere so it’s a real test. It’s evolved over the years especially since it became a Trophy race when it was rushed into service”.

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Luke, who works in the shop with the family, racing the National Trophy

No such rush this year though with the planning done, some work already on the course underway and everything planned for the course to be ready for when the riders line up to race on the Sunday.

“We have had the use of this facility for quite a few years now and spent a long time carving out a course in the woods so organising an event like this is quite easy now although the national championships was harder!”

“George and I do the course work and Sarah gets the marshals in and last year we had about 100 volunteers all issued with an Altura jacket so hopefully they will all be back. The club is really behind it and the event is a feather in our cap.”

A feather indeed and whilst the place may have looked like a serious muddy quagmire in January, it’s recovered well. “The mud was over your ankles then” Dave says “but go back there and you don’t even know an event took place in January. The fields recover and after a few weeks, the mud washes off the grass and the grass grows again.”

Which just leaves the final push to get it ready for the big event. “We’ll be there from Tuesday putting stakes in to layout the circuit. The Friday before the event, we’ll have a big group down there and then it will be more relaxed on the Saturday before an early start (6am) on Sunday morning. I think it will be a really good test and different to the championships”.

Thanks to Dave for that and we’ll have more on social media in the days and weeks leading up to the race.

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The off camber section  which here is quite tame compared to some years!

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Nick Craig running the same section when its been a little muddier! Think he’ll be one asking for more wet weather pre-race!

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