Cyclopark – SkAte2: Pump+Grind Review

We’d only ever visited Cyclopark in the driving rain. Through rose-tinted specs we had seen that it had all the elements towards the making of a great slalom location. A long, straight and gently sloping track, a pavilion to the right and a skatepark to the left, with floodlighting over the entire area. And the possibility of exclusive use. We had to give it a go.

We secured the use of the track for the 3rd and 4th March, 13 weeks before its official opening, thanks to a generous offer by Cyclopark to use the site for a ‘Test Event.’ First-aiders, security, insurance and risk assessment were in place. With drought warnings pervading the media, it seemed that we were on for a crisp weekend of racing.

Then the weather kicked in. After a morning of judicial swearing at the Heavens, the clouds rolled back and thirty-five skaters appeared through the drab light, driven as much by the urge to check out the new facility as much as to race.

Bruno Oliveira (Pavel/ Octane/ Virage/ Cult etc) kicked off the racing season with a crushing victory in the Hybrid, showing that his winter training had paid dividends. Louis Selby (Pavel/ Octane/ G.O.G./ Cult), typically Bruno’s chief rival, could only muster a third place as he yielded to the Pig City-based Gecko Team rider, Mike Allison.

With Michael Stride (Octane Sport) and Sam Gordon (Pavel/ Octane/ Virage) next in the placings it seemed like old faces were hogging the main spots, however Italian youngster Zach di Giorgio shook up the old order by splitting Clingfilm and Paul Taylor-Crush for seventh place.

Given the dual constraints of both time and weather, the course had to be laid quickly and set to avoid the wet areas under the Brands-like viewing bridge. Where we would usually have included wide offsets under the bridge, instead there was a straight line ‘tuck’ area that transitioned between an upper and lower course. No pumping allowed on this section! This visually broke up the course so that it was easy to see who was ahead at the mid stage and also allowed for an easy break up of cone marshalling into two distinct areas. And it saved the legs of racers for two rapid sprint bursts. Quids-in all round!

Those not racing could enjoy the other Cyclopark facilities; the virgin skatepark and buttery smooth 2.9km circuit. A perfect environment for Long Distance Pumping, dance and basic slides. But we were here for the competition.

From atop the Octane ramps Rob Ashby held the ‘Racers Meeting’ to explain the finer details of the two-part-course and Paul Keleher adopted his familiar role of timing and starter king as he manned the Seismic spreadsheets.

By 2:00pm all skaters had registered, started race practice and were ready to qualify. And injure themselves. Louis was the first victim on the slick track, re-awakening his ankle injury from Bo Peep downhill last year. Perhaps this could affect his battle with Bruno?

Sam and Louis set pretty similar qualifying times of mid-fifteen seconds, both taking down just one cone each and setting the bar. Mark and Harry Phelps were next up, with the youngster pushing a fine time of 17.1. A top ten placing!
Paul Coupe and Edwin Brockman put in some close racing with Ed having the edge, soon followed by Jason Martin and Gavin Palfrey.
With Rob versus Bruno next, low times were expected however Bruno, like Louis, overcooked it on the fresh surface and pulled out of the course. This was to be his only mistake of the day.
As the racers flowed down through the cones on the quali shakedown, a fast group emerged that included both classic and youth riders: Michael Stride (now back racing), Mike Allison, Chris Linford, Ben Williams, Ed Brockman, Paul Taylor Crush and the visiting Italian ‘Prancing Horse,’ Zacccaria Di Giorgio. His time of just 17 seconds shows that both he and Harry Phelps are skaters to fear in the near future.

The ‘A’ Group of top 16 riders was run though with the regular fast turnaround. Bruno pretty soon despatched both Pauls K and T-C to meet sponsor Michael Stride in the round of four. Mike Allison showed his continued good form by taking down London skaters SamG and ‘Slipa’ Selby to meet up with the Brazilian in the final. Unluckily the Pig City rider had no answer for Bruno’s powerful style and as the two raced it out under the setting sun, it was once again Pavel Skates atop the podium flanked by Gecko Decks and another Pavel.

With no time to run the ‘B’ group, the next sixteen riders were positioned on qualifying times. Taking first place was Franco Di Giorgio, the Italian rep of the ISSA. He was joined by Tim Neal and Gavyn McKenzie in second and third slots, with many new competitors filling the remaining places.

Many thanks to the Cyclopark team for being so accommodating (Laurence, Paul, Tay, Martin, Julio and Victoria), to Ed for his gate Security role, to Paul K for all admin on the day and to Rob for all of the communication and PR.
Special thanks also to sponsors Octane Sport and Seismic Skates, and to the team who tirelessly cone-marshalled.

For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Sunday event, whilst constant drizzle meant there was little in the way of skating, there was a fantastic Octane and Ed car boot sale followed by monster fry-ups at Nell’s.

Given that we have yet to test the track for Giant Slalom and with pavilion (and café) yet to come on line, there’s clearly unfinished business. We HAVE to return.

Next up, the Hog’s back!



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