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Incredibly Cross

Round 4

Story by Sunday Echappée February 17th, 2016

Are we drawing deeper into winter or getting closer to spring? It’s hard to tell here in London at the moment, cold snaps followed by periods warm enough to trick some trees into blossoming, followed by further cold snaps. One thing is for sure though, cross season is drawing to an end. The team champs on the 7th of February marks the end of the ‘official’ cross calendar here and many riders have already started to think about the coming road season. With the classics on the horizon, who can blame them!

Following the success of the past two outings and a bit of lull over Christmas we felt as though Incredibly Cross deserved one more outing to finish things off for the winter. It was certainly a wintery weekend as well, despite the forecast rain holding off it was bitterly cold resulting in a slightly diminished field compared to Round 3. The racers were none-the-less enthusiastic though, with one even arriving last minute having rushed over from a 10k charity run dressed as a giraffe.

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Round 4 saw us head north of the Thames for the first time and into an annexed corner of Epping Forest. The course offered up no end of fun (read: torturous pain) with deep slippery mud, single track, exposed roots, multiple line choices, an off-camber snake run and what can only be described as a bog that, by the end, was commonly referred to as the Somme.

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The racing at the sharp end was fierce with a closely fought battle between Gary Langered (1st) and Neil Phillips (2nd) that came down to the final meters, closely followed by a hard chasing Ben Mansell. Further back and colourful outfits, plenty of beer hand-ups and smoke bombs masked the pain, sorry I mean massive smiles, etched on the faces of the racers. There was no doubt that this course was serving up the toughest racing yet.

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As Adeline O’Moreau rolled in to claim her 4th consecutive women’s title and the final gents crawled over the line, a hasty prize giving was done before anyone got the chance to develop hypothermia. Our charity giraffe Graham took home a bag of clothing swag for his outfit choice and Matt Noble, despite riding an entirely appropriate 29er, went home with a bike maintenance kit as his crank fell off half way through. Finally, Ben Mansell won himself a load of goodies from Volcano Coffee as the antagonist of the race and his persistent chase of the leaders.

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As the first winter of Incredibly Cross draws to a close we are overwhelmed by the response and support we have received over the last few races! We are planning a return in the Summer with a big summer cross party to wet the appetite for next season when we will return with another series of races, bigger, better, no less sanctioned or adulterated but maybe a tad more organised!

Massive thanks to everyone who came and raced and especially to all those who have put in the time and effort to make these races happen, you know who you are. Thanks to the brands who have supported us; Rapha, Brother, Donhou, CyclePS, SBC, Volcano Coffee and Four Pure Brewery.

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Footnote: Words by Steve R-D, Photos by the amazing Sam Mellish