My Battle on the Beach - Kinesis Bikes
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MY BATTLE ON THE BEACH

Whilst Cyclocross racing is in the life blood of Kinesis and synonymous with mud, in reality there are far more ways to use a cross bike, including ….. beach racing! I raced the 2015 edition of Battle on the Beach and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that I didn’t think twice about attending and racing the 2016 event in Pembrey Sands, West Wales. Battle on the Beach is now in its 3rd year and is the brainchild of Matt Page (seasoned 24hr mountain bike racer).



ASSOS Battle on the Beach 2016 from Helium Media on Vimeo.

We had some fresh bikes on display and the vibe in the event arena was great,it was great to see Assos becoming title sponsor as well. The weather dry but cold and the course bonkers but great fun and very different for most of us racing!

The course was created around a 7km long section of prime Welsh beach. From the beach, it wound back through the dunes and a mix of pine woods and heathlands back to the finish to complete a 15km lap. The result was a great mix of maximum speed needed where big gears and bald tires rule the roost and a second half suited a light fast XC bike to flow fast through single-track. I felt when pre-riding the track that a CXRACE cross bike would be the right one for the job. Riding the new tubeless VEERUBBER rail tyres in 40mm width transformed the bike, affording me more float in the sand.

battle-beach-blog

The race start took place on a wide opening in the dunes, quite a sight as 800 riders lined up ready for the mass start. Luckily for me, this year I was gridded on the front row thanks to my efforts last year before and the atmosphere was palpable before we began. It was quickly clear to me, once the flag dropped that the Belgian and Dutch riders were the ones to beat as they chased down the £1000 first prize. I began the race shouldering my bike in a full on sprint while we all gambled on where exactly to remount or how far to push through the soft sand. I was one of the first to reach the harder sand and kicked hard after remounting to join the front runners. 0-56kph in not very long. A large pack began to form as we surged and grew in numbers. It was only through people forcing the pace that stretched out this group allowing packs to form!

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I gambled that the only way to remain in contention was to follow the two riders in fluoro (the eventual winning pair from Belgium). Whilst keeping your powder dry is nice, in real terms it’s very hard to do. We cruised through a layer of shells on the beach creating loud popping crunches that was an odd sensation at 45kph. I followed Richard Hanson as he made the eventual race winning attack, we were placed in the centre of the group around 15 wheels back but our narrow bars helped us ride up through the pack. I saw him changing down and as soon as he put his nose to the wind he attacked. I have never been on someone’s wheel when they rode away so hard, I dug as deep as I could, standing up 42t x 11t at 85rpm, but felt him riding away. I tried to hold on as we entered the soft sand off the beach into the dunes. My effort cost me as though I’d surged away to be first Brit off the beach, I was well into the red and I paid the price when it came to having to ride on the pedals for 2km through the rolling dunes and heathland behind the beach.

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The pace was brutally fast but I could still see that the hard pack and single track suited the ‘cross bikes best with wide tyres riding nice at 24psi front and 26 psi rear. The MTB’s had the edge on the loose climbs and the bumpy wide double track sections where there was no flow as they made progress better there on bigger tyres and a bit of suspension. I had to ride really hard up two of the only climbs to note to keep up with Ross Adams of Pivot-Boompods.
I made a big effort to hit the soft sand super hard and along the hard pack on the beach, then tried to recover off the beach, before focussing on riding the single track really hard back to the arena.

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The nature of the race meant it was far better to ride together than along 90% of the course as the average speed was very high. Luckily, I managed to group up most laps overtaking people on the beach as I looked at the numbers and time trialled along. Coming into the final lap I caught a group to put me inside the top 15 and managed to sit in and recover just a little.

Seizing my chance I attacked away on the final climb dodging lapped riders and trees.
Now without wanting to get too grumpy, those being lapped are supposed to help make it safe for faster riders going past. Unfortunately that wasn’t how the end of the race was for me. Several times people refused to budge over and just proceed to ride faster and make more mistakes. It’s faster and simpler for everyone if you move over as soon as, then pull back as soon as we have passed. We over takers hugely appreciate it! If only that had happened as I went flying over the bars into a bramble bush in the final 300 meters of the race. Happy days.

I dusted myself off and rolled over the line in 17th, and first CX bike home content with my efforts. The CXRACE was of course faultless, if a tad creaky from all the sand and water!

•Max speed- 67.9kph
•Max power 1340w
•Max 30 average power 720w
•TSS- 134.2
•Time 1hr 43 min 13 second

You forget how versatile a cross bike is when you spend all winter just using them in muddy fields. It was also great to see quite so many Kinesis steeds out on the beach, and thanks to everyone who came and said hello!

Huge thanks to our favourite Welsh Photographer for the fantastic images ! Anthony Pease

Great video here by Merida Factory racing

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