National Trophy Round 6 – Tong, Bradford

On Saturday 6th January, my Dad and I drove up to Bradford for the last round of the National Trophy Cyclocross Series 2023/24. It was just over a 4 hour drive so we made the decision to stay in a hotel overnight. We arrived around lunchtime on Saturday to watch some races and to preview the course. There was lots of gravel and mud and also a technical woods section which I was very excited to have a go at. Then, we drove back to the Premier Inn that we had booked for the night and in the car park I did a half an hour ride on the rollers to “open” my legs up.

Photos courtesy of Man Down Media and Fstop Media

The next morning we had a nice breakfast and went back to the race venue at around 9:30 am ready for a big day ahead. After a bit of a stroll to sign on and see friends I got ready for my course practice at 11:00. The course had lots of power sections which didn’t suit me very well which made me more nervous than normal but there were some segments which I knew would be good fun. 45 minutes before the race start I did my warmup on the rollers and got everything prepared for my race start e.g. gel, water bottle. I was gridded 3rd row which I was quite happy with because there was a long start before the first technical sections.

I had a great start and was in 16th (I think) after the first lap and over the next lap caught up to the next group ahead fighting for a top 15 position (3rd first year U16). Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision to not pit at all because I thought I could gain time but it backfired later on.

After just rejoining the group ahead my chain came off for the first time and because of all the mud it was reasonably difficult to get back on, it had affected me a bit because I had now gone backwards and was chasing on my own. On the final lap I was in around 16th again and coming out of the wooded section my chain came off again. I had realised it was because of all the mud and I had needed to pit more. It was a lesson learned for next time, but I was very pleased with 19th in a very tough race on a very tough course!