Battle on the Beach

What a weekend of racing!

Team Sole Cycling took the trip down to Pembrey Country Park in Wales to try out the Battle on the Beach race. We’d heard great things about it, and stayed up late to enter on New Year’s Day, as it’s usually sold out within hours of entries opening.

There was plenty of activities on offer so we decided that it would make a good Team Sole outing. We met up with Russ Hall who was looking in fine form, and resplendent in the new team kit, which got lots of positive comments from fellow riders.

There was a night time prologue on the Saturday, a lights on, balls out 11km circuit along the beach and back through the woods. Racing in the dark was great fun and it’s definitely something we’d be keen to try again. Starting at 10 second intervals also meant that there was always someone chasing, and always someone to chase!

Next up, at 10am on the Sunday was the kids races. Our youngest member, Alfie took to the line for this one and came 3rd. Great effort by all the parents who helped marshal, and the thought by the organisers was really appreciated by the families too. Alfie was super chuffed with his medal!

Then it was time for the main event, s 40km race, over 3 laps, along the Beach, through the dunes and back along a mixture of woods, gravel and singletrack. Nothing too taxing in terms of technical stuff, so suitable for any ability, and also manageable by a variety of bikes, with MTBs racing fatbikes, racing cross bikes and also a load of single speeders thrown in too. As with all good courses, there was something for everyone in there and most importantly, it was well signposted and well marshalled.

My only gripe was the start. As it was the first race I’d done I lined up at the back of the queue to get onto the Beach, assuming we would be shuffled down onto the Beach to start, but 5 minutes after the distant sound of the hooter we finally made it down to the start only to find a line of riders stretched out a mile up the Beach! After redlining the heart rate all the way along the Beach I was then caught in a queue at the first semi-technical section. There were no queues by the 2nd lap, so I was 13 minutes quicker on that one. Russ, who started at the front had no such problems so it was a bit frustrating not to have a true idea of how close our times would have been. Perhaps self-seeding pens at the start would be a good idea as I’m sure some of the slower riders would have appreciated starting at the back, and some of those caught up could have avoided the tailbacks. Having said that, every cloud has a silver lining and overtaking people constantly is great for morale and boosts the ego, even if it is taxing on the mind and legs! Note to self, get to the start early at the next event!

Overall, a great experience and one we’ll continue to support as a team. Next year we may even bring our young riders down for the youth categories so they can experience that ‘big event’ feel.

Thanks to the team at ‘A Cycling’ and all the other racers and their families for a great atmosphere and fantastic weekend!

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