In the words of Bryan Harvey, the Track Manager at Ipswich Cycle Speedway Club : ‘They don’t like it dusty, they don’t like it too dry’. The role of a cycle speedway clubs track manager attempting to give their team the best surface to race on is not an easy one. In the early days of the sport track maintenance was simple; clear a space and race. The modern track requires more work.
With the twisting and turning of their bodies and pedals, and the pulling and pushing on the handlebars from the start of a race, cycle speedway riders need to be in good physical condition to compete at the top level. Though amateurs, like professional sportsmen and women, many still supplement their on track training with gym work.
To the unaccustomed spectator the initial impression of a team or pairs heat in cycle speedway may be of mayhem. Whilst some riders sprint to the first bend, others seem more intent on barging into each other than racing but continue watching and the tactics involved will start to become clear.
There are four cycle speedway clubs clustered in and around Ipswich in Suffolk. Great Britain squad member Adam Peck currently rides for two of these, Ipswich in the Elite League and Great Blakenham in regional league matches.
Selected to ride for Great Britain in cycle speedway’s 2013 World Championships in Australia, but unable to fly as she recovered from an arm injury, Lauren Jacobs call up to the British women’s squad for this years event has been most welcome. “For me its like I’ve been picked to ride in the Olympics so its a massive honour. Its just amazing.”
With riders racing shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, wheel to wheel, on bikes with a single gear and no brakes, and with hardly enough prize money if any at even the top level to cover the entry costs for an event, cycle speedway is a universe apart from the recently raced Tour de France.
So what attracts riders to a sport that most people have never heard of or confuse with motorcycle speedway ?
Quidditch, the sport played by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is now a sport in its own right with a growing following around the world.
Sanne Cant of Belgium takes the lead in the UCI World Cup Cyclo-cross series after a photofinish gives her victory in Milton Keynes, Great Britain over Katherine Compton. Kevin Pauwels extends his lead with his first win in the men’s series having taken second place in the two previous rounds.
Twice the bridesmaid but not quite the bride, hosts Ipswich came close to winning both titles but in the end were beaten by rivals with stronger finishes.
A 71-69 defeat at the hands of Iceland dashes any chance of Great Britain’s men’s basketball team reaching the 2015 Eurobasket finals.
Whilst the sport of cycle polo has been around since the late 19th century and even been an Olympic sport the hardcourt version is still to come of age but now played in over thirty countries the sport is quietly growing.
Although long distance and ultra triathlons frequently continue into the night, for most of the time, and even for the majority of the competitors, racing takes part in daylight. The Midnight Wo/Man full distance race is different. Starting at 6pm its competitors know that the only light for most of their time on the course will come from street lights.
On paper, victory for ITU World Triathlon Series leader America’s Gwen Jorgensen seemed like a certainty at the Tri Liverpool elite women’s race. However British junior Sophie Coldwell ensured the race was not so easy for the American.
Alistair Brownlee gets to the top of the podium twice in one weekend as he wins the elite men’s race and is part of the winning Great Britain team in the World Mixed Relay Championships. Gwen Jorgensen claims the points to keep her top of the women’s series rankings.
Gwen Jorgensen of the USA wins her sixth ITU World Triathlon Series race making her the most successful female competitor in the series’ history whilst Javier Gomez of Spain wins the men’s race.
Age group competitors took to a less compact course that included a ride along Lower Wacker Drive, a multilevel road that has been used as a location for films such as The Blues Brothers and Batman Begins.
Mario Mola of Spain springs surprise victory as all three Olympic medalists from the race just under two years before finish outside the podium places. Gwen Jorgensen of the USA wins the women’s race.
Having already established itself on the international quadrathlon calendar, Lincsquad’s Brigg Bomber event this year hosted the sport’s World Middle Distance Championships.
Competitors battle for national titles and 2014 Commonwealth Games places at the British Wrestling Championships in Sheffield, Great Britain.
The final qualifying round for selection for the home nations Commonwealth Games weightlifters at the British Senior Championships saw a new British record from Jack Oliver a commanding performance from Zoe Smith to make her eligible for two categories.
Fifteen men’s roller derby teams from around the globe competed in the inaugural world cup held in Birmingham in Great Britain. The abilities of play varied, some needed help to ensure they had acceptable equipment and some teams found themselves short of squad members for such an intense event but all were welcomed and equally supported by the sport’s community.
Thirteen competitors met the minimum qualifying standards for the England weightlifting team for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in July at the first selection event during the national championships in Smethwick. How well they will be able to perform on the world’s stage beyond then however may be dependent on whether British Weightlifting can persuade UK Sport to reverse their decision to cut the associations funding.
Though considered by many as a children’s game Tiddlywinks even has its own world titles having developed into a sport requiring skill, strategy and with physical demands on it’s competitors similar to those in snooker and pool.
Ultra triathletes are always on the lookout for new and more challenging events. Many are on lap courses. The Enduroman Lands End to London to Dover is a point to point, rolling clock ultra distance triathlon with each discipline three times the distance of that in an ironman race.