Rapha Super Cross Finale, October 2012
On a cold, damp morning in late October, London hosted the Rapha Supercross Finale 2012. The iconic Alexandra Palace and Alexandra Park (”Ally Pally”) provided a fantastic backdrop for the event. (The palace was built in 1873 as a public centre of recreation, education and entertainment and in 1936 it became the headquarters of the world’s first regular public television service, operated by the BBC). Rapha put on three rounds of the Supercross this year and the races were billed as one of the most high profile cyclocross (cross) races in the UK with invites going out to professional teams – not usually heard of in the UK. Cross racing in the UK is certainly not as big as it is in some European countries and in the U.S., so for races like this to be pulling in the crowds is a big thing! Rapha estimated that there were crowds of circa 4,000.
Arriving at the event, the party atmosphere was apparent from the outset. The DJ was in residence and there were stands selling crepes, frites and Belgian beers. The racing saw several different classes of entrants, from the children’s races, to the youths, senior men, senior women and the elites. The afternoon was rounded out by one of the most popular categories of racers, the novice, or ‘fun’ category. Unlike the other rounds, the fun race featured a shortcut, but the price for taking the short cut was a shot, sometimes two, of tequila (multiply this by four laps and you get the picture…). The race also boasted a foam cannon which blasted passing riders with thick white foam reminiscent of a cheap student nightclub. Much fun was had by participants and spectators alike.
I raced in the women’s race (no tequila for me). Racing was fast and hard with many short steep climbs on slippery mud. The race was over in 40 minutes so I went as hard as I could from the gun. The field was split up pretty quickly by the first two sharp climbs. I worked my way passed a couple of girls and was in fourth place, I took a corner badly and hit the floor after coming down a steep muddy hill and hitting the concrete at the point of turning. Rookie error, but one made by many through the day as the concrete became greased with mud. I picked myself up and carried on racing. I could assess the damage later! I worked my way back past the girl who caught me when I crashed and into fourth place again. I could see the third girl and gained a little ground but just not enough before the end of the race. The pain was over all too soon and I had to settle for fourth place. I was pleased to finish ahead of some strong girls with much more experience than me. I am learning a lot in a sport that is new to me and having a lot of fun in the process.