Battle on the Beach

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“Look at that!” The invisible man does a trackstand on Craig’s new cross bike.

It was friendly. Great. Fantastic. It was sandy. Dry. Muddy. Wet. It was fast. Furious. Sluggish. Like my efforts through the loose sand, I’ve run out of adjectives to describe Sunday’s Battle on the Beach (BOTB).

BOTB was the UKs first beach cycling race. A branch of the sport normally confined to the coastal fringes of the Benelux, Pembrey Country Park (Carmarthenshire), played host to this lowland import.  Beach racing has much in common with cyclo-cross; non-technical off road racing that hones the skill set and the fast twitch fibres. The Course was roughly 70% cyclo-cross race and 30% beach and sund dunes. BOTB also incorporated the UK fat tyre champs, so bikes varied from skinny knobblies and drop handles (cross bikes) to uber fat tyres and super wide bars. In the main we – my buddies  and JIF team-mates – plumped for cross bikes, a choice that turned out to be a mild mistake. Cross bikes were fine, but 29ers were better. Nonetheless, it didn’t hinder the fun.

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Craig, smiling at the magnificence of his raffle win.

So how was my race? A bit rusty (first since the cross season), a little challenging (my cleat came off my left shoe), a lot lung bursting (try sprinting through loose sand, hopping off your bike, then running with it on your shoulder), but enormous fun (what could top the majesty of the West Wales coastline, accompanied by racing with your mates?). It was a superb day out, topped off with some excellent results from my Cardiff JIF team-mates: Mel Alexander (1st British lady, 2nd lady overall), Mark Spratt (3rd Male Vet), Donald Grey (3rd Grand Master) and Craig…….won the raffle and the rather marvellous BOTB cake (pictured). As for the rest of us? we played in the sand. Highly recommended.

BOTB returns for a relay version in October and represents a great family day out. Kids love playing in dunes; both big and small. Many thanks to Welsh Cross League stalwart Nigel Saunders for the video. I’m visible at 11mins demonstrating perfectly why I break so many bike bits – no finesse at all – hotly pursued by team-mates Andy Hoskins, Donald Gray and good buddy Jules. Craig hogs the limelight at 13.45.

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