Fareham Wheelers ready to roll at Fairthorne Manor

Fareham Wheelers race organiser Phill Chinn

Fareham Wheelers race organiser Phill Chinn

Third left, former F1 driver Damon Hill is flanked by, left, George Willis and, right, Mark Foxwell

Picture:  Malcolm Wells (170428-2033)

Bike riders embark on 250-mile challenge through France for charity

  • Chinn relishing club’s latest cyclocross event
  • Bumper turn out in prospect for Wessex League showdown
  • Organiser lauds ‘fantastic’ race venue
  • Spectators welcome as action gets under way at 10am on Sunday
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It is all systems go as Fareham Wheelers prepare to host round 11 of the Wessex Cyclocross League at Fairthorne Manor on Sunday (from 10am).

Hundreds of riders are set to invade the Curdridge venue, which is the home of the South East Hampshire YMCA, to do muddy battle.

The course has everything. There is Tarmac, a little bit of sand, there are woods, rolling hills with dips and climbs and mud!

Phil Chinn

With races from under-12s right through to veterans, there is something for everyone in this growing cycling discipline.

This is the third year the Wheelers have hosted a round of the popular southern competition.

And organiser Phill Chinn has been buoyed by an unprecedented level of entries so far.

He said: ‘It’s all coming together now, so we are good to go.

‘The entries are flooding in. I’ve got more than 150 people pre-entered already, which is up on previous years.

‘It’s a great sign, although a lot may be down to the league trying to get people to pre-enter.

‘But it is still very encouraging, especially with a National Trophy Series event in Yorkshire on the same day. Often that means lower numbers but this is very encouraging. We are really looking forward to it.’

Cyclocross is raced mainly in the autumn and winter.

The action takes place on courses featuring a mixture of terrains as well as obstacles which require riders to quickly dismount and remount their bikes.

The Wessex Cyclocross League has already taken in meetings in Oxford, Reading, Newbury, Swindon, Winchester and Southampton.

But Chinn reckons Fareham Wheelers are fortunate to have one of the best venues in Fairthorne Manor.

He said: ‘It is fantastic – a really good venue.

‘The course has everything. There is Tarmac, a little bit of sand, there are woods, rolling hills with dips and climbs and mud!

‘It is a popular course, or so I’m told anyway. People like it because it has such a great variety of terrain.

‘Fairthorne Manor have been brilliant, too.

‘Without their help, we couldn’t go ahead with these races.’

The Wheelers were the first club in the league to use electronic chip timing and lap counting when they introduced it last season.

It has made a huge difference – both to the organisers and the riders.

‘It is something we, as a club, went out and did,’ said Chinn.

‘The league never had it until we did it last year and now it is something they are running with.

‘There are only a couple of events now that don’t use it.

‘So it has been a big success so far and something we are very proud of.’

The under-12s get racing under way at 10am on Sunday.

Youth, novice, junior, veterans and women’s races follow before the main event – the seniors and under-23s at 2pm.

Spectators are welcome and refreshments, including licensed drinks, are available in the clubhouse.

Chinn, who also races in the league, has no concerns about the recent bad weather.

He added: ‘I’m hoping it will be dry but cyclocross riders are a very hardy bunch.

‘The racing is hard effort. It is not a gentle ride through the countryside, it is hard racing.’

Click here for a run down of the championship leaders and top local riders.

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