Whenever I spot an interesting local event going on in Haringey I try and make the effort to go along and show some support so when I got wind of the Rapha Super Cross series holding a day of racing at Alexandra Palace I persuaded Kate and Fergus to wrap-up warm, grabbed the camera and hopped on the W3 bus.
Before I write too much more it’s time for a little context. Having been completely absorbed and inspired by this summer’s Tour de France, La Vuelta, Tour of Britain and Cycling World Championships not to mention Team GB’s achievements in the Olympics I’m now calling myself a pro-cyclist. Yes, I wear Lycra from head to toe, I analyse the weight of components before buying and the postman must hate me for the constant flow of parcels from Wiggle that he has to squeeze through our ridiculously small letter box.
So now you understand why I can be found at a local cycling event I’ll press on. We arrived mid-way through the seniors race and making our way to the main area I was surprised at the scale of the event. Yes, Rapha is a big brand but still there were a lot of supporters of all ages shaking their cow-bells (free from the Rouleur stand) and enjoying the food and drinks on offer.
After wandering around the stalls and admiring all the amazing bikes on show we made our way to our first viewing point - a nice muddy patch with a particularly treacherous twist near to where the DJ was playing - a perfect place for taking some shots for Flickr. From the looks on the riders faces this was no autumnal stroll through Ally Pally. This was gruelling, leg busting work not for the feint-hearted.
The course wound its way through the grounds in front of Ally Pally and included jumps, lumps and all manner of bumps to be negotiated either on or off of the bike. I’m more familiar with road racing so wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from a Super Cross event but it’s essentially a cross country race on bikes. It’s muddy, it’s hard work but from what I saw at the finish line it’s also a lot of fun with a healthy competitive spirit.
Moving on we found ourselves at the base of a long, fast hill section and once the elite riders took to the course they really started tearing things up. The concentration involved has to be admired – one slip or misjudged corner and you’re sliding across the grass headed straight for the brambles so we did see some cuts and scrapes, dented egos and bent wheels but it’s all part of the sport.
By now it was getting a bit dark and cold so we left the park and made our way to the Victoria Stakes pub for a pint of Wandle and a sticky-toffee pudding – just what all the pros have after a big race, I’m sure.