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Rapha Super Cross criticised as King’s Cross event abandoned on safety grounds

Rain and wind make conditions treacherous for riders, forcing organisers to cancel racing

Organisers of Rapha Super Cross have been criticised on social media after the third and final round of the 2015 series at London’s King’s Cross was abandoned yesterday evening for safety reasons.

The event schedule had already been revised after it started late due to delays in setting up the course around the Granary Square campus of Central Saint Martins art school, with poor weather also making conditions dangerous for riders.

Racing had been due to start at 10.30am with an under-8s race, and conclude with a ‘Fun’ race beginning at 6.15pm, immediately after the men’s elite race.

It eventually started at around 1.00pm, with the timings of subsequent races shuffled, but shortly after 4pm, with heavy rain and strong winds at the venue, Rapha posted to Facebook to say that the event had been cancelled.

The post read: “Due to deteriorating conditions we have been forced to take the decision to cancel the racing at Super Cross London. This decision is for the safety of all the riders.

“A full refund will be given to all racers and an email will be sent on Monday with details. We thank everyone who came out today and for your patience.”

As a result of the weather forecast, the decision had already been made on Friday to bring the event village, including the beer tent and catering stands, to beneath a covered area of the course lying between Central St Martins and a Waitrose supermarket.

The obstacles had been designed by architecture students at Central St Martins and according to feedback from some participants were not suitable for wet conditions on a course that also included cobbled corner sections as well as granite surfaces.

A number of people took to the Rapha Super Cross Facebook page to criticise the organisation of the event.

Buauna Ball commented: “What should have happened is that they have the course ready at least a week before so all the obstacles can be thoroughly tested with a cyclo-cross bike not a mountain bike, as we saw them doing, so any safety issues could have been sorted out and injuries avoided.”

Meanwhile, Duncan Wright said: “Getting art students to make obstacles for the event was a crazy idea.

“They were made so badly that they caused problems. Get students to help, but employ professionals to make them safe! Glad no one was seriously hurt!

“Let's go back to Ally Pally next year yes!?”

Andy Carpenter, the father of two children riding in the kids’ events said: “Both my boys crashed out from first place of u8s and u10s – both on the same corner.

“It was treacherous from the off – many on the start line were predicting carnage. Good decision [to cancel], but possibly a bit late.”

“What a waste of a day and appalling race management Rapha – a very poor reflection on the brand,” Chris Boulton said. “Dangerous course too in the wet – we knew about the rain all week.”

 “Shambolic,” wrote Jason Bye. “Rapha should be ashamed to have put this on. Absolute amateur hour.”

Joel Phillips said: “This isn't just down to the weather & health and safety – there were still forklifts bringing barriers onsite at 1045, 15 mins after the U8 race was due to start.

“No-one was able to say anything useful about when the racing would actually start.”

He added: “What's sad is that it had such great potential. The space was great; the music was great; the kids were looking forward to it; I'm sure the races were eventually lots of fun.

“Rapha clearly invested a lot in it, but then ruined it with incompetent event management.”

The call to abandon the event did receive some support however.

Edward McAdam-Hann said: “Gutted but ultimately must have been for the best. Sad face.”

He added: “Publicly posting criticism isn't useful or in the spirit of things. People put a hell of a lot of effort to put the event on and the staff and students must be gutted.

“These things happen, they did the right thing and trying something new is what CX is all about, in this case it didn't work and no one was badly hurt.”

And Paul Rattew said: “Brave decision, and the right one. With so many of the riders crashing, continuing would have been asking for serious injuries.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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ped | 8 years ago
1 like

Nice bit of cheek from @morvelo on twitter: 


Morning @rapha - shout if you want any tips on organising an urban 'cross race! We've done a few.

Burn. As the kids say.

AJ101 | 8 years ago
1 like

I heard there were CX races on the same day around the country that were run by local volunteers with years and years of experience that went off ok. 

Al__S | 8 years ago

it clearly needs a rethink, but the idea of holding races somewhere that on a better day has quite a lot of passers by who might be curious as to what's going on isn't a terrible one. 

jollygoodvelo | 8 years ago

Getting art students to do anything involved in sport?  What a bunch of fools.

riotgibbon replied to jollygoodvelo | 8 years ago
1 like

Gizmo_ wrote:

Getting art students to do anything involved in sport?  What a bunch of fools.


is not the 'involvement' that I think is a problem, its the 'responsible for safety' bit ... bless 'em, thats not where their heads are, and neither should it be

geargrinderbeard | 8 years ago

Who wants to cross race on stone!! I was having way more fun in the Central League

riotgibbon | 8 years ago

my boy was keen to  have a go this year, after watching it a few times at Ally Pally. When I explained that it was not on grass but on hard, shiny, surface and over obstacles made by art students, he was incredulous. When he saw the weather, he outright refused and did the mountain bike racing at Hillingdon instead. He is 10, and clearly wiser than adults

it's a shame, because its vital to have new ideas, but in general you always have to keep the artists as idea people, not fabricators. They're notorious for dodgy execution. That art school in Glasgow burnt down because of a piece that had a motor inside styrofoam or something like that. Thats why Damien Hirst and that lot all have everything made by that factory in the East End somewhere, otherwise it would all fall apart/kill everyone

at least Rapha had a go though. They've good commercial reasons for doing these events, but when they go right, they're great. It's ok to have the odd fiasco now and then, shows you're human (what happened to Echo and the Bunnymen at the TdF festival), but you really don't want to be endangering people, especially when there's kids racing


hampstead_bandit | 8 years ago

you want decent quality, safe "obstacles" for an event like this?


employ experienced skatepark builders who are used to designing/building outdoor BMX and skate ramps, and then get the timber items covered with grip tape or textured grip paint to provide wet weather safety


its really not rocket science...

FuzyFelt | 8 years ago

I drove from Oxford to race and have mixed feelings about the event (the free bar offer did not help my mood due to driving! free food would have worked ..possibly). When I arrived I was told races were 2 hours behind schedule but updates were few and far between. I applaud Rapha for trying something different and by involving the students it should have made for a very good event that engaged the local comunity. But it also proved art students are not carpenters (should have had the work checked) and I must admit the obsticals were also lacking in imagination. It rained.. it's November.. it shouldn't be a suprise to the organisers. The tanoy system came straight out of a 1970's railway station and you couldn't understand what the MC was saying most of the time which added to the confusion. As hacked off as I was, cancelling was the right decision but I think it was more to do with the shonky obsticals than the wet weather. As riders we can adapt to conditions that are forseable (wet conditions) but chuck in obsticals that are unpredicatable and falling apart then makes it impossible to ride. To Rapha I say .. You pushed the boundries and this time the boundries pushed back.. try it again in the summer with carpenters supervising the students (it'll be good for the students and a learning experience) Get the course sorted earlier and I think it'll be a brilliant event, and get back the the fritte wagon they were fantastic. But even after saying all that,  after 4 practice laps I know urban cross is not for me.. give me mud and grass.. give me Ally Pally with an added sand pit.


Fuzy Felt

bendertherobot | 8 years ago

Advice on Facebook during the week was to use file tread CX tyres. For me, large volume commuter tyres would be better but, in any event, as soon as it gets wet any urban surface will be an utter disaster. This is obvious. And it's hugely obvious in November. 

Al__S | 8 years ago

The crashes I saw in the men's youth/junior race and couple of laps of the women's race were mainly not down to the obstacles- it was the utterly slick granite flagstones in the rain. 

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