Keynsham will be hosting the British Cycling Regional Championships at the ShamXross track at Somerdale next month.
ShamXross is the specialist cyclo-cross course, created on the Somerdale Meadows and designed and run by local riders Kev Brewer and Steve Glass with the support of Taylor Wimpey on private land.
Cyclo-cross is described as being like steeplechase on a bike. It is very popular in Belgium where it attracts thousands of spectators. Men, women and children ride and the sport has a strong ethic of being family-friendly.
At ShamXross, the 2.3km circuit over grass, mud, gravel and sand, with man-made barriers and banks, provides great viewing for the spectators as riders on modified drop-handle road bikes see how many circuits they can complete in one hour.
The track includes steep sections which tests riders’ grit, determination and balance, and sections where riders are forced to dismount. As part of the Keynsham circuit a ‘double spiral’ has been cut into the grass track, resulting in some amazing photographs as streams of riders ride into and out of the spiral at the same time.
The sport caters for all abilities and fitness levels, with plenty of spectator support and interaction adding to the atmosphere. The most successful riders need a good level of fitness, but often those with smooth, clean riding skills and some luck are rewarded, especially during the muddier winter events, where riders have to carefully negotiate tight off camber turns and quickly dismount to run up steep slippery banks.
The British Cycling Regional Championships will be held at Somerdale Meadows on Sunday 28th November. With racing for the youngest riders starting at 9am, through to mid-afternoon for the faster categories, the organisers say the all-day family-friendly event will also feature live commentary, a DJ, and food.
Local course designer and director Kev Brewer said: “Cyclo-cross is enormous fun to watch, there are always thrills and spills, with riders trying to jump barriers and stay upright around what is quite a tricky course. The muddier the better, as that’s when it gets unpredictable. It’s free to come and watch, and we love to have a crowd down on the course cheering the riders on. Traditionally spectators bring cow bells to make some noise, but pots and pans work well too.”
The first Western Cyclo-Cross League race since COVID was held at ShamXross last month with a record 250 racers.
Gwen Edwards, who is part of the ShamXross team, added: “Cyclo-cross is a great sport to photograph. The circuit means that you’ll have many chances to get the shot you’re after, and there is always something of interest to pay attention to. Here at Somerdale, the backdrop of the wooded hills often delivers dramatic skies and big vistas.
“We were really chuffed that local photography legend Alistair Stuart Campbell joined us at the September race and his images from ShamXross will feature in an article in the December issue of Digital Camera Magazine.”
The organisers say that anyone can enter the race – don’t let the ‘Regional Championships’ tag put you off. For those who want to improve their skills, sessions with qualified coaches for complete beginners all the way through to seasoned racers are held.
British Cycling also run their Regional School of Racing events at ShamXross for talented youth riders.
Find out more about the event and how to take part on the British Cycling website.
You can also find out more about events at https://www.facebook.com/ShamXross/