THE IMPRESSIVE setting of Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield was the venue for the 2014/15 Inter Area National Team Cyclo Cross Championships.
The event, which was hosted by Bolsover & District CC, featured five local riders who were selected to represent the West Midlands.
Following days of heavy rain, the riders had to contend with a challenging, technical course which was extremely wet and muddy.
Chloe Ralph, Cameron Biddle and Jacob and Harrison Knight, who all ride for Solihull CC, together with Annie Lindsay of Redditch Road & Path Cycling Club, all travelled to compete against 20 other teams including strong contingents from Yorkshire, East Midlands, London and Wales.
The Knight brothers competed in the first race of the day, the U16 Youth. Both had problems from the start as Harrison’s rear mech broke on the first lap – a typical cyclo-cross mechanical breakdown.
Harrison had to run to the pits carrying his broken bike to exchange it for his spare one, whilst Jacob also had a mechanical problem on the first lap but managed to ride strongly for the rest of the race and, although ranked fourth, finished second placed West Midlands A Team rider.
The next race featured the women and veteran men combined and saw Ralph take to the start line in her first major event as a junior rider.
After a strong start she showed great determination as she battled the elements and produced a fabulous performance to finish in eighth place overall.
The final race of the day saw the junior and senior men take to the start line and Biddle produced another strong, determined performance in extremely tough conditions.
All riders now hope to build on these impressive performances in their next West Midlands League event at Blackwell Court on Sunday.
Chloe Ralph in action and showing off the mud post-race. (s)
Jacob Knight competes in the Youth race. (s)