Friday, 14 March 2014

Beach Trip ... with a difference

This weekend sees the UK’s inaugural Beach Race for cyclists at Pembrey Country Park in South Wales, Battle on the Beach. 

Belgium and Holland have been holding beach races along the North Sea coastline for quite a few years as an alternative was to keep fitness through the winter months, and now finally this masochistic side of cycle sport is coming to Britain. 

The interest in beach racing in the UK seems to be gathering momentum.  At the end of last year ran a very good article, “Beach Slapped” where the author was invited to the Netherlands to take part in the beach race at Noordwijk, a 52km out and back affair along the windswept beach.  Cycling Plus have a beach racing article in their March edition, and Koga dealers are getting ready to receive the first consignment of their Beach Racer bikes which won awards at Eurobike 2013.

 In a contrast to most continental beach races A Cycling, organisers of the Battle on the Beach, have taken the concept of the beach race and morphed it with some more technical looking single track ideally suited to a cyclocross race.  This increases the appeal to a wider audience than those keen on sadistic sacrifices to the wind and sand of the Welsh coastline and invites all with any off-road bike to take up the challenge, whether they are fat, medium or thin – and include the UK Fat Bike Championship!
There is a big cash prize list and trophies for the usual categories, though you’ll have to be on peak form as the organiser have had continental interest from Belgium and Holland with the Dutch KMC-Koga MTB team bring their entourage including demo bikes, and teams of beach racers from Belgium too.  

The organisation for the event is looking good with course signage and details emerging over the last few days, along with the usual race schedules and overnight accommodation options.  They have even planned to screen the rugby for the hardened followers, well it is Wales!
I’m hoping not to disgrace myself too much but running a ‘crosser that takes only 35mm tyres might mean I’ll be stretching my running legs a little more than others, though I’m hoping to claw things back through the technical single track sections.  I’m now getting more than a little nervous and floods of anticipation keep washing over me as mind keeps turning to tread choices and tyre pressures.  Here goes ...