March 19, 2011

BUCS XC Championships
Sunday 13th March 2011

Durham University – Aura Cycles fielded 9 riders in the BUCS Cross Country Mountain Bike Championships over the weekend, held in Moelfre, Wales. The XC races concluded the prestigious weekend of racing after the downhillers competed for glory on the Saturday.

Setting off from Durham on Saturday morning, we were all anxious to get down there and check the course out. Was it going to be a straightforward fire track sprint as in previous years or was it going to push the rider’s technical ability to the limit? On arrival, we soon realised that this was not your average XC race, but instead the course consisted of a ridiculously steep, gravel climb up to the top of the hill overlooking the campsite, followed by a steep, technical descent down the old downhill track. How hard can it be? So after a short while sorting the bikes out and fiddling with tyres we headed off for a few practise laps. With a few exceptions, everyone safely negotiated a couple of circuits and we were confident that come race day tomorrow we could hold our own in the race.

There was even time for a few eager members of the team to try their hand on the 4X track. This was never going to end well, and within a few minutes Pete Ward had crashed hard and snapped his collarbone in two. A trip to the first aid tent revealed the extent of the injury and he was then taken off to the awaiting ambulance. Pete is still in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital waiting for surgery on Tuesday and he can now have a matching metal plate on his collarbone to the one already in his arm. On behalf of everyone at DUCC we wish Pete a speedy recovery so that he can get back on his bike as soon as possible to practise his jumping technique.

The racing on Sunday started with the XC Sport Champs, a fun, ‘less-competitive’ race before the main event. Durham was represented by international sensation Giacomo Pieraccini (racing his first mtb race) and former student Ewan Brown. Despite Ewan’s last minute decision to race and the subsequent lack of preparation, he flew around the 4 laps at breakneck speed to record a brilliant victory, completed in style with a popular wheelie over the line. Giacomo also held his own to record a credible 80th place.

The 6 lap Championship race started shortly afterwards, with Durham riders Andy Charlesworth, Andy Durnan, Andy Miles and Matt Wilson in the men’s race and Kat Broadbent and Lizzie Dingle in the women’s race. The gridding system at the start avoided too much chaos as 130 riders fought to get onto the climb in the best possible position. Fortunately, the course had dried out nicely after the torrential rain the night before, so conditions on the ground were surprisingly good. Add to this bright sunshine and hundreds of hungover/still drunk/loud/abusive downhillers and the scene was set for a mental race. And this it proved, with complete carnage as soon as the race hit the descent for the first time. Andy Miles was keen to get in on the action with a perfect execution of a mounted flying front somersault on the second lap. Matt Wilson was also keen to rub his face in the dirt and is now covered head to toe in bruises. Mtb captain Andy Charlesworth lead from the front with unrivalled flair and showed his ‘roadie’ teammates a thing or two about going downhill fast. Andy Durnan also had little difficulty mastering the descents, even if he did have to stop every lap and drop his seat! Unfortunately, Lizzie had to abandon at half way due to snapping her chain, which meant Kat was the sole remaining Durham representative in the women’s race. She demonstrated masterful tactical ability by playing the waiting game as her rivals sped around the course and repeatedly lapped her, resulting in Kat only having to complete two laps of the hellish course. There have also been rumours circulating that Kat Broadbent is hoping to do the double next year and race the downhill as well, watch this space for more on that!


XC Champs – Male
28th Andrew Miles @ +1 lap
53rd Matt Wilson @ +1 lap
77th Andy Charlesworth @ +2 laps
94th Andy Durnan @ +2 laps
(from 113 finishers)

XC Champs – Female
17th Lizzie Dingle @ +2 laps
18th Kat Broadbent @ +2 laps

XC Sport – Male
1st Ewan Brown
80th Giacomo Pieraccini @ +3 laps
(from 111 finishers)

GeneralNathan EdwardsNo Comments
January 23, 2011

Saturday saw the first round of the Kielder Mountain Marathon series. At 50km, this was always going to be a tough race, however course changes brought about some interesting results.

With only three representatives from Durham-AURA, the race was more about testing legs than anything else.  Kat Broadbent was racing in category B, along with the previous winner of last year’s series. Despite being her first event of this kind, Kat had a great first lap. However during the second lap she stacked it on a rock drop, and came down hard on her head. Unfortunately (although probably the best decision) the race marshals decided to pull Kat out. For Kat however this was sufficient to at least take something good away from the event, as the route was far more technical than expected, and she was coping well.

The course itself was a mixture of red and black trails, with some pretty difficult rock gardens to negotiate, which resulted in a few riders opting to run through these sections. Each lap, the riders had to endure some steep ascents up technical trails, followed by long slogs on fire roads. These were interspersed with snippets of great technical descent, but what goes down must invariably go back up. The latter section was almost all fire road, which included some large loose rocks. Most riders suffered pinch punctures at some point, however a canny (or rather lucky) descision by Matt Wilson to run a high tyre pressure paid off, and he rode puncture free all race.

In the category A men’s race were Alex Bedwell and Matt Wilson. Unfortunately Alex also suffered from a crash related injury and had to retire, leaving Matt to slog on. A severe lack of motivation, played its part in causing Matt to lose lots of time in the first lap. The second lap was started in a better, more determined mood, however this was short lived, as he then stacked it round a switchback, suffering a knee injury. As the adrenaline kicked in, this minor injury could be ignored and he was soon back on the bike. After a faster second lap, the third saw the onset of cramp, and the last painful 30 minutes were spent riding through it.

Overall, the race was carnage. The turnout is never high for the first round, and this year was no exception. 40 riders started, and only 25 finished. Matt rolled in at 20th, in the exact same position as last year within his class. So overall not an overly successful race, however, the racing season is only just beginning…

MTBMatt WilsonNo Comments
April 29, 2010

DUCC were busy over easter, here’s some of what we got up to.

Time Trials

Easter meant the first of the ‘flat’ BUCS time-trials, the 3up Team TT and the 10 mile TT. Confidence was high as we went into the events with the Women especially expected to medal. And they did not disappoint, a silver in the 3up, followed by team and individual gold with a storming ride by Mathilde Matthijsse in the 10mile. The men managed a silver in the 3up (missing out on gold by 3 seconds!) and a team record individual 10th for Alex Clayton and team 7th in the 10mile. Both events represented impressive points hauls for DUCC with the 10 being a record of 39, putting us at the top of the BUCS Cycling table with just 2 events left. Full Reports: BUCS 3up TTT BUCS 10 TT

Two weeks earlier Mathilde set one of the fastest ever women’s 10 mile TT times with a 21:43 at the Lancashire RC 10.

Nathan Edwards began the break with a good showing in the Welwyn Hilly 26 mile TT, a major improvement on previous time trial results.


Alex and Nathan also went to Hog Hill to race in the San Fairy Ann Crits, Alex unfortunately punctured, but Nathan gained 5th and his third cat license. Full Report.


Tom Hards had the first round of the CRC MTB Marathon Series, 75k of dry and dusty trails through the Cambrian Mountains. Big climbs, big views and a big crowd of nearly 1000 riders made for a fantastic atmosphere and epic day. Finishing in the top 100 of those who made the full distance and improving on last year by 15 minutes was pretty satisfying and bodes well for the rest of the season.

March saw the first round of the new Nutcracker MTB series. Being a BC points qualifying series, the turnout was good, with around 200 competitors in various categories. There were three races in total:

Race 1- Youths (U16), Fun (Go-MTB – non ranking)

Race 2- Experts, Elites

Race 3- Juniors (17-18), Senior Sports (19+), Masters (30+), Veterans (40+)/Grand Veterans (50+)

The only Durham rider present was Matt Wilson, in the senior sports category. He came in 7th. Two days of rain and a morning of sunshine resulted in a very muddy course, making what would normally have been a fast course painfully slow in places.  Hopefully the weather will be better for the next few races, and with the promise of some hills next time future rounds look ‘enjoyable’.

MTB, RoadNathan EdwardsNo Comments
March 10, 2010

February saw the start of the 2010 Kielder Mountain Marathon series with the Kielder Winter Warmer, and the Durham mini-race for BUCS champs places. After being delayed due to bad weather, everyone was raring to go; even if there was still a crisp layer of snow on the higher tracks. The format was pretty standard for kielder, however this time the race started with a ‘non-competitive’ section along the reservoir. This allowed some of the speed merchants to get ahead, including a GB rider, in full GB skin-suit (I’ve gotta’ get me one of those. . .). Then came the first big climb. Out of the Durham riders Matt Wilson went for a quick start, followed closely by Tom Hards. Towards the top of the climb the race left fire-road and joined a singletrack trail. To many peoples ‘disappointment’ the GB rider had a mechanical and took the walk of shame back down the trail.

The snow on the higher tracks was a good 6” thick, and any rider straying from the tracks cut by a landrover earlier had a hard time keeping their bikes upright. After a promising start, Matt then had a puncture, and due to a broken pump relinquished place after place. Eventually, as what was possibly the last rider went past, he was on his way again.

Lizzie Dingle also had a good start, but was chasing her shadow for first place in the women’s B category for the whole race.
There were very few technical sections in the race, one or two steep muddy sections, but nothing to cause major problems. What was really hurting riders was the length, and it was taking its toll on riders by the last lap. After chasing teammates all race Matt finally caught Tom, and both riders subsequently cramped up repeatedly, with screams (erm, shouts of pain) more at home in a horror film than a mountain marathon. Eventually, Matt took the lead in the Durham mini-race, failing to notice Tom falling off and becoming trapped in his own bike. Thank you to the guy who rescued him from that! With the finish line a stones-throw away, Matt stacked it three times in the space of 20 meters (a new record?) But still kept a lead of 90 seconds over Tom.

The big story was Lizzie winning the B category with a very respectable time.

So, the final standings:
Matt Wilson -3h43-21st
Tom Hards -3h44-23rd
Andrew Charlesworth -4h04-30th
Lizzie Dingle -4h30-38th

MTBMatt WilsonNo Comments