UK Super Cross 2012

Film by Peter Drinkell

Words by Dave Evans

For those not there to bear witness, the Tequila Shortcut was an excuse for Rapha’s Mexican Tequila Bandit and myself to behave atrociously, and for the riders in the fun race to avoid a short section of the course by imbibing various quantities of cheap tequila. The Shortcut was lined by a rabble of baying fans who took a rather large carrot and stick approach to their fandom, cheering and pushing those who braved our bar service, and heckling those who didn’t. There might have been a small element of peer pressure to the whole affair, in retrospect.

Despite the Bandit being an arresting and all-too-memorable sight in his sombrero, real ‘tache, Rapha skinsuit and gold Lamé leggings – it’s worth noting that all questions of cultural sensitivity were directed to face painter and resident Person of Mexican Heritage, Liseth, who assured us that it was all fine… But our exploits in the Tequila Shortcut were far from the best part of the 2012 series.

Working at Super Cross I witnessed three days of electric atmosphere, racing of the highest quality, a cacophony of cowbells, and a lesson in the 10 different varieties and sub-varieties of racing mud from Rapha-GB team manager and course designer Konrad Manning. Konrad made me put my learning into practice as we marked out Ally Pally’s tree lines and singletrack descent – the planned slipperiness of which bordered on the sadistic.

It was at the crest of this descent that I saw David ‘Pee Wee’ Hemming, who I’d been heckling without much grace or skill for much of the afternoon, take air a number of times. He would then plant the bike back onto the earth, whip down the descent as if on rails, and (deliberately) lock his back wheel up going into the greater than 90 degree turn at the bottom. It was masterful, but with the edge somewhat taken off by the fact that he did most of this with his tongue sticking out. There is such a thing as making something look too easy, Dave.

Yet the high point of the weekend, in terms of pure racing drama, happened at Misterton Hall in Leicestershire: Jody Crawforth and Paul Oldham had been trading turns to build their lead for the best part of 15 minutes, and one of the pair was sure to take the victory. A group of fans (and myself) had struck camp at that spot to see the backend of the last lap before running over to the finish line for the presumed sprint.

When Paul Oldham appeared out of the woods alone – going fast but by no means in the full flight of an attack – a few ‘oohs’ and gasps passed between the fans. Jody Crawforth appeared from the woods seconds later, shouldering his bike and pumping the fist of his free arm as he sprinted after Oldham. It didn’t take long to figure out the significance of this moment – Oldham, as defending champion, had bossed the first race, and his team were leading in the overall standings. Crawforth’s chain was off. One man shouted “have you tried back-peddaling it, Jody?” Crawforth didn’t reply.
Oldham hesitated, before riding away from the still jogging Crawforth, going on to secure his second of three victories in the series. It was thrilling racing.

Thank you to everyone involved in Super Cross 2012