19/20 July will see the 2008 National XC Championships come to Crow Hill, just outside the New Forest, Hampshire. SMBC (the people behind the ever-popular Southern XC series) have been giving the event a series of hefty thwacks with their stout organising stick with the goal of making it “the best XC event in the country”. Lofty goals indeed, but with the unique opportunity to take part in the racing before witnessing the UK’s fastest riders trying to hurt one another in pursuit of those rainbow jerseys, the key ingredients are certainly there.
Crow Hill is a venue that saw a lot of action a few years back. After a bit of a fallow period it came back into use for regional racing and this year will achieve what all ambitious race courses aspire to. The fast singletrack loop passes through well-drained coniferous forest and meadows. It won’t scare the less experienced, but it’s a challenge to go properly fast on it.
On the subject of the less experienced, SBMC is keen to encourage participation from those other than the hardcore XC racers. With Fun, Open, Sport, Under 12 and Under 10 categories, there’s a spot for everyone. All the racing takes place on Sunday, with the course being open for practice all day Saturday and all the event village facilities (camping, trade stands, hot showers, toilets) available form Friday evening. Saturday evening will have a good go at recapturing the freewheeling spirit of the early-90s race scene, with bunnyhop, skidding (remember – skids are for kids, but it’s good to be a kid again sometimes…) and trackstand comps.
Championship categories (all the ones for which a rainbow jersey is up for grabs) require entry in advance by 30 June, either online at www.pedalon.co.uk or by downloading the form and snailmailing it in. Advance entries for Sport, Open, Fun, U12 or U10 will be available until the Wednesday before the event or on the day if you’re hopelessly disorganised or congenitally indecisive.
And with a nod to the possible travel issues resulting from having a National Championships right at the southern edge of the nation in question, the organisers are offering airport transfers to and from nearby Southampton Airport – send ’em an email to find out more.