Course Setters - what are you thinking sometimes?

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Course Setters - what are you thinking sometimes?

Postby NZxcross » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:45 pm

Hi all, This topic has been brewing in me for a while & after the course on Sunday I feel the time is now right to put my thoughts out there. I don't like to be negative but want to make it a better/more enjoyable sport for all. These are my views, so if I'm wrong or have mis understood what 'cross is then will duely applogise immediately.

Hillingdon - Central Round 9
Why oh why do the coarse organisers go out of their way to set up courses like this? This just had twists & turns in it for the thrill of it. It always seemed like you were going left, right down up, well everything but backwards. There were three dismounts as well to contend with. Little or no flow in this coarse at all.

But what really gets my goat is this, my interpretation of 'cross is exactly that. A course should have a mixture of straights, technical & single track. If different surfaces are available & be incorporated then amazing. So setting up a coarse mostly on the grass/mud, running the track through endless pot holes & divits, & avoiding at all costs the gravel paths & sealed road at Hillingdon is beyond belief. No wonder not as many roadies are attracted to 'cross as there could be.

It was such a big lap as well, it felt like my kidneys had been through twelve rounds with Mike Tyson such a hammering this coarse gave. What was wrong with running us down the back straight tarcell like on the first Central round??

Okay Rico, so that wasn't to your liking then what would please you??

The course at Hemel is perfect. It gives the fitter guys a blast on the straights, then if you are more technical inclined you get a chance around the pits area. Another straight section around the pitches then into technical again. Followed by the single track. Perfect, no matter what your strength is, you get a chance to shine as well as being pushed on the bits you aren't. It’s like some coarse setters gets the shits if they have set more than three stakes in a straight line.

I have ridden on 5 only coarses this season that had mixed surfaces. To me it just makes it so much more enjoyable/different & challenging. Surfaces are not always available like Hemel. Ickneild, or Brackly so if you think I'm a winger then take a look at the previous post by Paul for my favourite tracks this season. All three are at the pointy end of the list.

Is there any chance our Simon could be the Central coarse setter for the '13 season?? Only joking but he does set up a ripper & seems to understand what makes a great coarse.

Right gotta stop or will go on for a while.

Constructive comments would be welcome.
Richard O'Reillly

Long way from home kiwi........

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Re: Course Setters - what are you thinking sometimes?

Postby Simon Hemington » Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:19 am

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Sam Williamson
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Re: Course Setters - what are you thinking sometimes?

Postby Sam Williamson » Tue Dec 18, 2012 3:06 pm

I'm inclined to agree with you Rico, although I'm not sure I could do much better myself and I guess organisers have to make the most of what they've got at their disposal. However endless zig-zags through grassed over rubbish dumps are never going to be much fun - a course with a bit more 'flow' as you put it, using a mixture of surfaces shouldn't be that hard to achieve...

One thing I've noticed when Simon sets a course is he always makes sure he has several riders on hand with their bikes to test the various sections of the course and make sure they work well - this is a real 'win/win' as the organiser gets his course checked out for both flow and safety and the riders (who would normally be from the promoting club) get a bit of 'local knowledge'. This would certainly seem to be 'best practice' (excuse the pun) going forward into next season.

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Paul Thomson
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Re: Course Setters - what are you thinking sometimes?

Postby Paul Thomson » Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:10 pm

One small response regarding Hillingdon - especially for the round 9 event. The use of the tarmac (tarcell for Rico!) has to be restricted as the amount of mud the 'cross generates at this time of year makes it difficult to clean up the tarmac sections, and the circuit is used extensively even during the winter for training and also racing. So a muddy road circuit is not wanted. As there are no vehicles using it then it doesn't clean itself that quickly...

Also, to be technically within the rules, all 'cross courses (or coarses for Rico!) must be at least 3 metres wide, even in the so-called single track sections. Our own Hemel course probably doesn't quite meet that in the wooded sections. But many riders do like it like that despite the sometimes restricted passing places there.

I don't think our own course is fixed in stone either... I think in the 4 (or is it 5?) years we have been running it we have changed something every year as we evolve the course and find out what we can do - and importantly what we can't do or isn't needed or wanted. I fully expect the course to continue to evolve.

Finally, often the venues used are the restricting aspect - there isn't the room to have lots of long flowing sections so to make the length required (in distance and time per lap) then some zig-zags and twisty sections have to be incorporated. One event last year had a massive spiral in it - 3 loops in followed by 3 loops to get out of it again - riders loved it! It also looked extremely odd but fascinating to a spectator with riders all going in opposite directions all in a small area.

Paul Thomson
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