In his October guest post, yourCardiff’s regular bike blogger Simon Nurse talks about the success of the Tour of Britain in Wales, this month’s upcoming cycling events, and what you can do to stay safe on your bike as winter creeps in.
Once again, September proved to be a terrific month for British cycling with a British win in the Tour of Britain. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, currently of Endura Racing and purportedly high on team Sky’s wish list, became the first British rider to win the Tour of Britain for 19 years.
It capped a superb year for the 27-year-old from Plymouth, accompanying wins in the Tour of Alsace, Tour Mediterranean, The Tour du Haut Var and his second place in the Vuelta a Murcia. So it was fantastic to see so many people out supporting the Tour of Britain as Stage 6 finished on the streets of Caerphilly.
Local fans were denied the opportunity to support Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins who withdrew with stomach problems, but still turned out in force to support Mark Cavendish and local Sky rider Luke Rowe. There were colourful scenes on the side of the mountain as Luke’s friends and family – brother and elite rider Matt Rowe was amongst several in fancy dress – lent some European-style support to the riders as they charged over two ascents of the mountain from the steepest of the seven mountain approaches.
Rowe finished in the mix with a fifth place to go alongside his superb opportunist win on stage 1. The streets were lined with interested locals, school children enjoying the brief academic hiatus, members of the local cycling fraternity (Cwmcarn Paragon, Cardiff JIF, Cardiff Ajax and others were there in numbers) and die hard cycling fans. There can be little doubt that the riders of the Tour will have been impressed with the superb support from Welsh supporters.
Moving more locally, the cyclo-cross season got under way in Llantarnam with huge numbers across the age groups. The numbers in the children’s races were so high that the age groups needed to be separated, whilst 98 riders toed a high quality senior start line (46 of which were vets).
There is little doubt in my mind that the high numbers are as a direct consequence of Olympic and professional cycling success – clear evidence of the legacy in action. There were people here who were inspired, race curious and ready to give it their all. Nowhere was this more evident than at the start, a furious 100 metre dash across an open field and onto the course proper.
The race was tremendous, with fast criterium style conditions and decent technical sections through dry woodland. Congratulations to race organiser Craig Standage and fellow Cardiff JIF members for creating a superb race and a community feel (team mates and family members baked cakes and raised over £150 for Macmillan). This superb start has been maintained through the subsequent fixtures at Risca and Haverfordwest.
Moving away from competitive cycling, cycle culture in the Welsh capital continues to grow and October presents a glorious opportunity to contribute. Do you commute by bike and have a good eye for design? If so, why not try your hand at submitting a design for artwork that will be replicated on Virgin Media and BT cabinets in Cardiff?
The winning artwork will promote and identify Enfys, Cardiff’s cycle network, and though it probably goes without saying, the design needs to be suitably eye-catching and cycle orientated.
If you’d like to submit a design, then pop down to Unit 2/4 in the Royal Arcade before October 14 from 10am-4pm where Enfys have all the materials for you to show off your design skills. This forms part of the excellent Cardiff Design Festival and more details can be found here.
As the nights start to draw in and the weather starts to descend into wintery, watery territory (didn’t that start in the summer?), the cycle season is gradually winding down. Notable events for October include:
- Welsh cyclo-cross league, Penlan Fields Brecon, October 7
- National Trophy cyclo-cross, Abergavenny, October 14
- Welsh cyclo-cross league, Carmarthen, October 20
(All details available via the British cycling calendar)
- Autumn Epic, 96 miles or 81 miles, Knighton, Powys (entries filling up).
As far as I can see there are no organised family or charity rides, though please feel free to comment if you are aware of any – and don’t let the absence of an organised event put you off from getting out on the bike!
As I cap off this article, I’m gazing out of the office window at a glorious October morning with a cloudless azure blue sky. Without doubt, October is my favourite month for riding. Crisp mornings leave spider webs glistening with morning dew, whilst golden autumn sun filtering through forest canopies makes for superb trail and family riding.
Sadly, the weather reports indicate that the azure blue skies are likely to be exceptionally short lived (no surprises there) so I’m glad that my waterproofs and lights are now permanently packed at the top of my rucksack.
With the nights starting to draw in and winter on the horizon, it’s advisable to check on the state of your winter cycling kit (especially lights) and remember to pack them for longer winter rides and your regular commute. Have a safe and enjoyable October riding.