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Summer Series 2012: Round 1 – Cycle Speedway

Summer Series 2012: Round 1 – Cycle Speedway

Having taken the spring off organising mate’s races to concentrate on real life it was with great anticipation I announced the upcoming schedule for this year’s summer series. There had been some subtle and lots of very unsubtle prompting about when the new season would begin and so with the passing of the longest day, racing began.

This year’s series is planned to be a succession of 8 races taking in all ‘undisciplines’ of mountain biking, including a dual race open to the public and a Strava based round. The nature of these mates races is that they are just that, unofficial ‘races’ between friends, chaotic meetings of people all with the aim of having fun on bikes. As such it was great to have the opportunity to open up a couple of races to the public (other than Peatys Steal City DH) but more of that in another post. Also we’re still waiting for sanctioning from the UCI for points but ‘Ockers is working on it.

Round 1 this year was one of our old favourites and still the most fun you can have on two wheels, cycle speedway. Rob Mahwood of the Sheffield Stars once again welcomed us back to the newly surfaced oval to get our foot down and our bikes sideways. Apparently the lads that help Rob out when we come down look forward to it every time as the carnage that ensues is not quite typical of a speedway meet. Always happy to oblige. Every time we go down I’m amazed that this sport is not nationally well known: it’s so much fun; so hard to get right and such an amazing spectacle. It should featured every week on Grandstand.

Looking out of the office window at 3 and seeing another of this summers deluges running off the soaked earth I banged my head repeatedly against my keyboard. Somehow it spelt out ‘Fuck this summer’ 5 times in and email and sent it by accident to my most important client. Happily as 5 rolled round and I left the building, the sun cracked out from behind the clouds and our luck once again held. Descending upon Cookson park at 6 Rob had again rolled out all the stops, the full starting gate was in place the track had been bailed out (literally) and swept ready.

By now most of us are old hands at Speedway so the practice laps were quickly racked up once a suitable bike had been selected from the pile. The lankier of us always suffer with choice but that just adds further to the fun. 16 of us elected to race, with many just coming to watch the carnage, which meant the 3 lads and Rob himself were included in the line up. They have these brilliant grids already setup which set out who races who and when making sure everyone gets a go in each lane and shouldn’t race the same person more than twice.

Racing got underway quick and it was a full 4 lap affair. Considering the track is only 200m around, 4 laps is such hard work. Its balls out sprinting off the line, foot off, corner, drift, then back on the pedals as soon as possible to sprint to the next corner. The first corner is all important as once out in front it is possible to control the race if you have the skills, naturally we don’t and it’s just a balls out battle.

There are a few memorable moments from the evening; my favourite though was when I lined up against Rob for the first time. Such a pro, he’d been showing us how it was done all night and was very generous with advice. I was in lane 1, him in lane 2. He said to me “you remember Liam don’t you ?” as he signalled to the lad in lane 4. It was then that I remembered why I recognised him, it was from this incident, at 1:15, during last year’s Spring Series Speedway session. I’d used some rather dubious tactics to put him out of the race and it was as these neurons fired that Rob delivered the knife as the grin spread across his face “ …because he remembers you!”. That was it, purely psyched out, and I didn’t see any of them for dust but the team were being kind enough to let us invaders win.

During their 3rd round battle Rich Baybutt and Henry Norman had a bit of a coming together on the last corner of the last lap. Scrambling off the floor to get back on their bikes Baybutt was lagging well behind as Henry was first back on his feet pushing/pedalling/paddling his bike over the line. Not able to get back on his bike on the time Rich took the only logical choice and sprinted on foot towards the tape dragging his bike by the rear wheel behind him to the jeers for the assembled crowd. Victory was his as he crossed the line just ahead.

Surprise speedway star of the night was John Jones. He turned up late missing the practise and the first couple of rounds still in his steel toe cap work boots. Rob was immediately impressed by his style (you’d have thought he should be good being one of the most over qualified coaches in the country) and was trying to sign him up for the Stars.

Will Swinden was dominant all evening only dropping one point throughout which was in a first round battle with Timmy. Tim starting in lane 1 had the advantage and made the most of it. Ruari was also on form only dropping two points which left the final two spots in the big final to Chris Pearson and myself. I picked lane 1 out of the bag which put me next to Will in lane 2. As the tape flew up we sprinted off and I clashed with Will and went down like a sack of shit. Will went on to take a well deserved first with Ruari second and Chris in Third.

And so ended the first round of the Summer Series, the seal had been broken and it was on to the next race. This was scheduled to be the Dual in Endcliffe park but more of that in the next race report.


Spring Series – Round 7 – Cycle Speedway

Spring Series – Round 7 – Cycle Speedway

With the penultimate leg of the Spring Series we returned to the battle ground of the cycle speedway track. Rob Mawhood of the Sheffield Stars has hosted races for us several times in the past and we keep coming back because this is about as much fun as you can have on a bike. Ok so that’s a phrase I use as lot, but these are bikes being raced against mates, Fun is the name of the game. The Cookson park track in Hillsborough has seen many a battle in the past, the Sheffield Stars Club are riding pretty high in the national league, but it tends to get a bit bloodier when we roll.

Speedway has been around for a long time but gained popularity in post war Britain. Tracks sprang up amongst the rubble of decimated cities and were ridden on ghetto bikes otherwise un-roadworthy. Cycle speedway is still raced on bikes with no gears and, like its big motorised brother, with no brakes on a short oval track with a loose sandy surface and only the slightly of banking in the corners. A race lasts 4 laps and its pure sprinting whenever you’re not hanging a foot out in the corners. The locals do this with the bike leaned over to 40 degrees railing the turn, we turn up, drift in and roost the hell out of the corners killing all speed. Bloody mountain bikers.

On a gorgeous Tuesday evening a big crowd turned out to watch, heckle and race. Rob was joined by a few of the youth team who’d come along to help out and show us how it was done. Moreover, they’re raced with us before and know how we roll. They’d come to see the carnage and, if they could, cause more. Rob had pulled out all the stops to put on a proper race with the full start gate and a very well prepared track. He might as well have rolled out a red carpet. With series leader Swinny absent due to work commitments it left the rest of us hungry for points to try and catch him up in the series standings. After a few practice laps and a bit of instruction we got straight down to the racing, with 19 of us we didn’t quite get to race everyone else but not far off. Speedway uses a predefined grid system to define who races who and in which lane you start. We rattled through the preliminaries pretty quickly but not without incident. The lack of brakes and straight line sprint meant many riders ended up on the track loosing various amounts of skin. Josh Lewis took a great rag doll tumble and Joe Bowman went down really hard on his knee but manned up and kept racing.

Prelims Grid

Once thorough the Prelims we were divided up in to finals, A to E. The E’s went first to decide the wooden spoon and no one wanted to be last. Lane positions were chosen at random by drawing a ball out of a hat. It was hard fought but Irwin came out on top with Steve Hardcastle walking away with the booby prize. The A final was contended between Tim Pearson, Jack Bauer and myself. Jack had been commended by Rob all night on his skills on the bike, he cornered like a natural. Tim, as ever, can ride any bike bloody quick. I got a lucky draw with lane 1 for the final, a real advantage to be able to get the inside line on the first corner. I managed to hold off the other two and walk away with the gold medal. Tim did a great job of holding Jack off to take second.


Then came the Challenge. Two of the team riders wanted to take on Tim and I in a team race, who were we to say no. As we walked up to the start line Aiden Wild, the challenger, proudly said “He’s going down in the first corner” while looking at me sending ripples of laughter throughout the crowd. Now I being 6’2” didn’t think I had much to fear from a 5’4” 15 year old, how wrong could I have been. The start of the race was rerun about 5 times as we couldn’t get through the first corner. Twice Aiden put me straight down and I couldn’t do anything about his tiny shoulder getting under mine and knocking my front wheel out of the way. Then I managed to get my wheel in to his and just about stay upright but ran with my feet so we had another restart. Then Tim and I switched lanes to try and at least get through the first corner and on the second try we were finally off. As you’ll see documented in the video it wasn’t the cleanest of races. I’ll not say anything other than, they got what they deserved.

So to the points, 16 points for the win as usual with a linear distribution down the standings. Jody also picks up top points for being the highest placed (only) lady.

Spring Series – Round 7 – Cycle Speedway
Position Final Name Points
1 A Nick Hamilton 16
2 A Tim Pearson 15
3 A Jack Bauer 14
4 B Joe Bowman 13
5 B Will Swinden 12
6 B Chris Pearson 11
7 B Ruari Hallam 10
8 C Josh Lewis 9
9 C Ally Fraser 8
10 C Shane Townsend 7
11 C Daz 6
12 D Rob Jolley 5
13 D Ol Green 4
14 D Rich Baybutt 3
15 D Jody Vallance 16
16 E James Irwin 1
17 E Martin Baker 1
18 E Duncan Philpott 1
19 E Steve

The Series standings are getting closer and closer with only one race left. Swinny is still out in front, with myself and Tim in 2nd and 3rd. With Martin Baker moving down the standings, Chris Pearson and Ruari both move up and Jody retains here Leading Lady status.

Spring Series Standings
Position Name Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5 Round 6 Round 7 Total
1 Swinny 15 16 16 15 16 78
2 Nick Hamilton 12 11 11 9 11 7 16 77
3 Tim Pearson 16 6 15 9 14 15 75
4 Will Swinden 16 14 13 1 2 12 58
5 Chris Pearson 8 10 1 12 12 11 54
6 Ruari Hallam 11 14 13 1 10 49
7 jody Vallance 1 15 16 16 48
8 Jolley 1 10 7 8 15 5 46
9 Martin Baker 14 1 1 1 14 13 1 45
10 Steve taylor 12 12 1 13 38
11 Jordon Gould 15 15 6 36
12 Ally Fraser 10 2 7 1 1 5 8 34
13 Joe Mallinson 1 13 8 1 6 29
14 Dave James 1 10 11 22
15 Adam Wiles 1 7 1 10 19
15 Joe Bowman 2 4 13 19
17 Katie Hallam 1 16 17
17 Simon Choppin 1 1 15 17
17 Matt Hunt 9 1 1 1 5 17
20 Jack read 16 16
20 Liz Bowman 16 16
20 Hanna Jonsson 16 16
23 Tom Stewart 15 15
24 Davi Birks 14 14
24 John Inman 13 1 14
24 Luke Meredith 14 14
24 Rob Stokes 13 1 14
24 Jack Bauer 14 14
28 Steve
6 6 1 13
28 Shane Townsend 3 1 1 1 7 13
30 Cheggers 1 11 12
30 Ed Thomsett 12 12
32 Danny Whitehead 5 2 4 11
32 Dave Camus 1 4 6 11
32 Chris Davey 10 1 11
32 Simon Bowns 1 10 11
36 Malco 9 9
36 Nat Hay 9 9
36 Ol Green 1 1 1 2 4 9
36 Josh Lewis 9 9
40 Henry Norman 8 8
40 Sam Taylor 7 7
40 Oli Cooper 7 7
43 Alex Owen 1 5 6
43 Duncan Philpott 2 3 1 6
43 James Irwin 3 1 1 1 6
43 Daz 6 6
47 Dean Dobson 5 5
47 Dave Mitchell 5 5
47 Ivor Biggun 5 5
50 Duncan Wiggans 4 4
50 Rich Baybutt 1 3 4
52 Franky
3 3
52 Denis Cumming 2 1 3
52 Neil Hunt 3 3
55 Oscar Monk 2 2
56 Harry Tate 1 1
56 Simon Fagg 1 1
56 Tom Kahler 1 1
56 Will Shaw 1 1
56 James Crossland 1 1
56 Sam Reeve 1 1
56 Chris Palmer 1 1
56 Marco Wood-Bonelli 1 1
56 John Horscroft 1 1
56 Jake Monk 1 1

Tonight is the last round of the Series, a classic XC loop from 18 bikes in Hope. Its all left to play for depending on who turns up.

Cycle Speedway.

Right, i’m destroying the pump track and building one of these bad boys…. The most fun in a counci estate ever.

Cheers to Nick and the team for sorting it out…. Bit of hucking at the end aswell! Boom!!


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