Slippery When Wet
Scottish Borders' popular Tweed Cross Cyclocross event returns for it's second running with much to be excited about. Tweed Bike Boxes was there to soak up all the action.
With Mexican flags flying and the odd Donald Trump mask, one could be forgiven for thinking they had arrived at a politically charged protest rally. But Tweedbank, near Melrose in the Scottish Borders is not known for being a hot bed of activism and indeed on this damp Sunday morning, the anger was less focussed on global issues than the lack of bacon rolls. Welcome to the world of Cyclocross!
Tweed Cross is a relatively new cyclocross event being only on its second running. Staged by The Happy Trails Cross Collective, the race has the feeling of one that has been around for much longer. Set within the Tweedbank park, which could have been designed for staging cyclocross.
Starting in the centre, the course initially wound its way round the outside of the park, before diving into the trees and following the River Tweed. Some tricky whoops signalled the arrival of a tough climbing section through the natural woodland with some very sharp spikes.
This section rewarded those who were able to stay seated for once at the top, riders fought to find a level point to remount and gather momentum again as they wound there way through some tricky down hill and switch back sections.
Briefly, the course opened out again before heading into a forward and back section of high sharp rises and equally sharp descents, that got progressively more punishing as the race went on. Finally, the course opened out again with two hurdles to be cleared before the finishing straight.
The course excelled in its terrain, the weather adding an incredible contrast of grip – largely dry through the deep wooded section but very greasy on the banks in the main park.
Competitors and spectators were well catered with local companies turning up to provide key cyclocross essentials namely coffee, bike spares, beer and waffles! This was Tweed Bike Boxes first visit to a cyclocross event and I was really taken a back by the friendliness and welcoming atmosphere. Many sportives are tense, nervous affairs with the slightest hint of rain being met with sulking and complaining about lack of grip with carbon rims. But here everyone was clearly focussed on enjoying the day and the weather was met with excitement. That's not to say there were was any lack of competitive spirit. The quality field was a testament to the hard work of the organisers and this pushed everyone on. I was blown away by the speed and skill of the riders in all categories.
As a spectator, Tweed Cross was excellent, far more exciting than any other cycle event I have been to. For one, you get to see the riders multiple times and get a real sense of how the race is progressing. Helped by the tireless and knowledgeable commentary. You can also choose to spectate in many locations, getting a real sense of what the riders go through. All helped by being two minutes from the aforementioned beer and waffles. It's a sport of contrasts – mud, roots and skin suits – and all the better for it. Leaving Tweed Cross, I was inspired to give cyclocross a try and I will definitely be the other side of the tape next year. And at the end of the day, that's the mark of a good event!
Tweed Bike Boxes is now on eBay looking for his n+1