Rapha Prestige

Rapha CX Prestige 2016

On the 12th November 2016 18 teams of four assembled to ride the Rapha Prestige Cannock Chase around the lanes, fields and canal paths of Staffordshire. Our first off-road Prestige, the riders set out into the English drizzle with a new kind of challenge ahead of them – rim-deep, performance-hampering mud.

Arriving at the Has Bean Coffee roastery, riders consumed caffeine and cakes before departing into the grey autumnal weather.
From the outset a series of technical off-road sections presented a dilemma - either ride through ankle-deep water and endure the cold spray and muck, or navigate around to avoid the worse of the wet and lose time.
Whatever the strategy there no way of avoiding the thick mud on the course. At the second feed station mud-splattered riders downed coffee, had their brevet card stamped and shared experiences from the first sections of the course.
The canal sections promised an easier ride, the smooth gravel path a chance to gain back time lost to the mud. But instead teams were treated to rim-deep mud and layers of leaves which caused the occasional two-wheeled slide. The overall aim was to avoid entering the canal at all costs.
A thick mist hung over the course for the entire day which varied in terrain from tight, tree-lined lanes and open farmland, to canal paths with hints of industrial heritage to thick pine forests and open moorland.
As the route neared Cannock Chase, steeper more technical sections were made even harder by the additional weight from the mud that covered bikes and riders. Tired legs and weary heads dug in and chat between riders was reduced to a minimum.
After arduous up came rewarding and swooping downs, bringing smiles and temporarily lifting the mood. One further feed station provided a last chance for food before we pushed onto the finish. Working as a team, taking turns to face the wind, we arrived back to share tales of falls, mud, punctures, broken bikes, adventure and camaraderie.