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Cyclocross - Battle in the Bowl
Thursday, May 18th, 2017

 

Battle in the Bowl

 

Paul Horta-Hopkins

 

Missing your cyclo-cross? Then give the Battle in the Bowl a go. A two hour ‘cross/gravel race to keep you smiling.

 

Those lovely people at the CycleEvents Organisation will be running the second edition of the Battle in the Bowl on the 21st May. A whole day of racing culminating with the headline two hour SuperCX race. So if the ‘cross season is just too far away, or you’re merely gravel curious, why not give it a go?

 

The Battle in the Bowl returns to Matterley Bowl

The Battle in the Bowl returns to Matterley Bowl

 

Last year’s event saw over a hundred riders tackle the tough four mile course in the SuperCX race. This year’s earlier date means the Bowl’s grass will be shorter, making passing easier in the central, grassy section. This part of the course will have a mile of twisty, taped lanes for you to wiggle round. It’s not ‘cross unless you can see miles of candy striped tape stretching into the distance!

 

Fact: 'Cross racers are a friendly bunch

Fact: ‘Cross racers are a friendly bunch

 

The organisers are keen to encourage some good old fashioned team spirit and have a few incentives for team entries. These include discounts for teams of more than four riders and a team pit area. You can fill your team pit with flags, banners and adoring fans. There’s even a BitB Team Spirit Award for competitive spirit, sportsmanship and general good attitude.

 

Show your team colours

Show your team colours

 

If you’ve not ridden the course before, you’re in for a treat. My memory of the event goes like this… The racing starts with a massed start; no gridding here, it’s first come, first served! Flying out of the gate you’re straight onto a mile of wide gravel track. This is perfect for working your way through the bunch, make sure you’ve had a good warm up though, the pace is fast from the gun.

 

And they're off!

And they’re off!

 

Coming out of the gravel and you’re downhill into the twisty grass lanes. This sections runs up and down the sides of the Bowl, testing your handling and fitness. Then it’s onto the long dirt climb to the top of the Bowl. Last year we were cheered on by local Army cadets, which was nice when it was getting a bit grippy. You then ride along the Bowls rim, always climbing slightly, you’ll have to dig in here.

 

Climbing out of the Bowl and away from the tape

Climbing out of the Bowl and away from the tape

 

Off the top and it’s a wide and fast wooded descent with a narrow exit onto a rutted grass slope for a few grassy twists before starting all over again, nice!

 

The wooded descent is fast, with a tight exit

The wooded descent is fast, with a tight exit

 

If you’ve not ridden a cyclo-cross event before, or maybe only ridden the odd CX Sportive, then you’re in for a totally different experience. First of all there’s no mud! Ok, that’s weather dependent, but it is nice riding on dry tracks. The racing is fast and hard, but the atmosphere is relaxed and people are more than happy to offer advice and tips. They will also cut you up in the corners and force you off your line if you let them, but that’s all part of the fun!

 

Organiser, Martin Harrison has told us there’s been a few rule changes for this year’s event. These are aimed the type of bikes allowed in the SuperCX race. Last year saw ‘cross, gravel and MTBs tackling the course, this year there are some changes. Entries for the 2017 SuperCX race will be limited to ‘cross and gravel bikes only. This came about after the organisers spoke to riders who felt that allowing MTBs into the race ” unbalanced the competition”.

 

The organisers want to make the SuperCX race a unique event and feel they can achieve by limiting the race to cyclo-cross and gravel bikes. The new rules for the SuperCX race state; “No suspension, 44mm tyre max on 700c or 29in (48mm max allowed on 650b). Maximum bar width 600mm.”

 

The next generation getting their 'cross fix

The next generation getting their ‘cross fix

 

However they go on to add; “these rules are applied to keep racing in the spirit of the event. As Gravel/CX is an evolving form, we have considered allowable exceptions to these rules for certain bikes. As the following have been developed with this form of riding in mind, they will be permitted in the race: Cannondale Slate (suspension allowed, bike must conform to other rules)
Lauf fork equipped bikes (suspension allowed, bike must conform to other rules)”.

 

Don’t worry though, MTBs can still ride the Open category race, which uses the same course. Why not ride both and see which is better? The next generation is catered for as well with racing for U12, U14 and U16s.

 

 

So dust off your ‘cross machine, get it race ready and enter the 2017 Battle in the Bowl, you’ll love it!

 

Battle in the Bowl

 

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