Ever felt that there was a cycling world champion inside you just waiting to get out? Well, if you ride a fixed, singlespeed, recumbent or tandem the 4th of September could be the day your inner champ gets to shine. That's the day Black Rat Cycle Challenges are staging a genuine UCI World Championship race day.
The Black Rat World Championship Race Day will take place at Castle Combe Race Circuit near Chippenham, Wiltshire. It’s a unique event, and will include four separate race events, three of which have been UCI approved as World Championships.
This will mark the first UCI Fixie World Championship Race, and is an unmissable opportunity for fixed and singlespeed riders (yes, singlespeeds will be allowed) to show what they are made of and possibly go home with a title… and a tattoo, as that is one of the prizes for the winners. The race is limited to 400 riders, making up five heats of 80 competitors, each completing four laps of the circuit (approx 8 miles). The fastest 80 riders from the heats will then go on to compete in the final which will be five laps (approx 10 miles). It will be interesting to see how whether a fixed wheel or singlespeed free option has any advantage around the Castle Combe circuit.
Riders of recumbents will want to have a stab at the World Championship Recumbent Race – UCI version, with a maximum of 100 riders, split into two heats of 50. Heats will cover six laps of the circuit (12 miles) while the final will run over seven laps (14 miles) and it’s a simple first to cross the finish line. Two or three wheeled machines without fairings are allowed to enter - which like singlepeeds in the fixed race may offend some purists - although the note on the Black Rat website about socks and sandals would seem to suggest that the organisers aren't too worried on that score. Pedants might also point out that the recumbent world already has the World Human Vechicle Powered Association World Championship - which very much doesn't have anything to do with the UCI or all its works. "Proper" recumbent world champs or not, this should be a race to watch – it's fast around Castle Combe which should make for some exciting racing – given that the British Human Powered Club doesn't normally have much truck with the UCI be interesting to see how many turn up for a UCI World Championship. Either way, organisers insist it will be a laid back event.
More unusual still is the Tandem World Championship. With bikes taking up more space than their smaller counterparts, the tandem race will only allow for four heats of a maximum of 40 bikes each (so 160 bikes/320 riders in total). Heats will run over six laps (12 miles) while the final will cover eight laps (16 miles). Recumbent or more than two wheeled tandems are not allowed. A limited number of tandems are available for hire from Totally Tandems for those who fancy a go but don’t have a tandem on which to race. We’re seriously considering entering! (Sadly there is no tattoo for the winners of this one or indeed the recumbent race).
For many Brompton riders the event of the year is the World Championship race at Blenheim Palace in October every year, but over recent years the standard has risen until only elite and even pro riders are taking the honours, squeezing out the man on the street. The race at Castle Combe, although not a World Championship race as the others are, is aimed at those whose Blenheim career has folded (sorry) in favour of something more gritty and every day. Competitors must all ride a Brompton (no other folders are allowed) and a jacket with collar and tie must be worn. There will be a maximum of 400 riders, split into five heats of 80. Heats will cover three laps (6 miles) and the final will be four laps (8 miles)
With last weekend's Bristol Sportive having marked the first event of the Black Rat 2011 season last weekend, their next sportive, on Sunday 11th September, will take place in North Devon, near Braunton. It will follow a similar format to the Bristol event, with two route options- a 100km or a 100 mile. Usual sportive characteristics apply, with two feed stations for both routes and a broom wagon if needed. Starting in Braunton, both routes follow the same course until Lynmouth, meandering around Croyde, Woolacombe, Ilfracombe and Combe Martin, with most of the big climbs in the first 40 miles, but a smattering of undulations throughout. The longer option, which climbs a total of 2697m on its length includes some challenges like the climb on Countisbury Hill out of Lynmouth itself which includes a section of 20% gradient. Both routes are circular, bringing riders back to the campsite in Braunton that saw them head out.
Full route maps and descriptions of both North Devon sportive routes are available on the Black Rat website, as are full details of the World Championship and Brompton races at Castle Combe.
Lara has been riding bikes for longer than she'd care to admit, and writing about them nearly as long. Since 2009 she has been working as part of the road.cc review team whilst championing women's cycling on the side, most notably via two years as editor of the, sadly now defunct, UK's first and only women's cycling mag, erm, Women's Cycling.
Believing fervently that cycling will save the world, she wishes that more people would just ride a bike and be pleasant to each other.
She will ride anything with two wheels, occasionally likes to go fast, definitely likes to go far and is always up for a bit of exploring somewhere new and exciting.