“one of the best cross races I’ve ridden, this is how ‘cross should be.” Nick Craig
Crawforth beats Craig, massive participation.
313 racers gathered at Herne Hill Velodrome to take part in the now annual Muddy Hell night-time event. There were huge increases in youth categories and a record 35 women participants. An opportunity for all abilities to race ‘cross in front of hundreds of spectators in a unique atmosphere with optional fancy-dress and a huge prize list courtesy of headline sponsors Knog totalling a whopping £2700 including £1000 cash.
At sunset the U12 riders took to the Herne Hill infield and valiantly tackled all the new features especially created by course designer Phil Glowinski and the team of Rollapaluza volunteers, which included the “TZG” wall-ride, an enormous scaffold bridge, tabletop and the 40cm high Knog double-hurdles.
As the light faded the under 14 and under 16s took to the full course which included drop-offs, singletrack, berm, hill-climb and a lengthened sandpit. By the time the GoCross / Novice race started it was really dark and riders compulsory lights were needed to pick their way around the back end of the course before dipping back into the floodlit spectator arena and the cheers of the crowds who by now were gathering around the tabletop and challenging riders with demands for “Big Air”.
The vets, women and juniors raced together and this is when the spectators really began to witness the speed of experts in the discipline as well as showboating from the best bike handlers with Anna G being the only female all-night to clear the tabletop. Mick Bell took the vets race, with Claire Beaumont of Condor cycles taking the ladies and Alec Briggs of Arctic Premier RT (guesting for Team Mule Bar Girl) taking the Juniors.
The Senior race saw incredibly fast racing from two of the UK’s biggest names in cyclo-cross Olympian and multiple winner of Championships and the notorious three peaks Nick Craig and 2008/2009 National Champion Jody Crawforth. These two were well clear of the rest of the field and later in the race also took the opportunity to get air on the tabletop (Jody) and ride the wall (Nick) but the biggest air and highest wall rides came from Londoners Deke Strentz, Brian Curtis and Phil Glowinski with Brian and Phil also finishing high in the rankings. Jody and Nick had matched each other all evening, but on the last circuit of the infield, Jody pulled away from Nick to take a clear win in front of the huge crowds.
The Fancy dress competition was one by the Stig, who also raced on the Rollapaluza roller-racing rigs in the bar tent, but never revealed his identity…who was that?