Keeping The Piece At CityCross
November 12 2013
Filled with cobbles and grass Halifax's Piece Hall has all the right elements to make it the perfect cyclocross venue. The problem is that it's a grade one listed building, and you don't have cyclocross races, or indeed any kind of race, in a grade one listed building. But retirement can be the agent of change. The 230 year old Piece Hall is being retired for two years, disappearing behind the covers for a nip-tuck to come back better equipped to serve a modern town with modern needs. The Hall’s guardian at Calderdale Council, Dawn, is retiring at the same time and as a swan song she thought she'd let a bunch of cyclists loose inside her beloved Georgian building.
Some history for you. The Piece Hall got its name from the fact that it was, for most of its life, a trading space primarily for the thriving northern wool and cloth industry. Traders would come and sell pieces of cloth, a 'piece' being 30 yards of woven fabric, in this magnificent example of the industrial north's wealth and status.
Here at Orange we're proud of our northern roots and the heritage of manufacture in this part of the country. Therefore we felt compelled to enter Morvélo’s CityCross race and show some local pride. CityCross aims to get bike racing right in the heart of towns, making it accessible to the general public and creating a festival atmosphere with music, food and beer stalls creating an inclusive feel that doesn’t put off non-riders from spectating and maybe even getting involved.
In order to uphold local honour we unleashed our barely-tame racer, Vaughan. Vaughan is a calculated racer, he makes sure all the odds are in his favour before toeing the start line. This was Vaughan’s first cyclocross race and given a choice of bikes he decided to pick the Clockwork. With big wheels and fat tyres providing plenty of grip on the slick cobbles and familiar stable geometry it seemed the obvious choice for a ‘cross novice. Other Orange bikes spotted on course included some RX9s, a Crush and a handful of Fives; we took great pleasure in seeing some burly Fives battling away with dedicated cyclocross bikes, and beating them.
The race was run in motos with each moto being 20 minutes plus one lap, a condensed take on the typical hour plus a lap format of a cyclocross race. With a ‘spiral of doom’, wooden berm and a sandtrap along with the cobbles and slidey grass there was plenty to challenge even a proficient racer.
Vaughan stormed his first moto, finishing first with comparative ease, thanks maybe to the fact that his mum was watching him…
His second moto was more of a challenge. Up against some faster racers it was a much closer race with place swapping throughout. Raced in the dark and the rain and and in part through the Piece Hall’s lower parade on a course that had taken a real beating it was in no way easy going. To add to Vaughan's struggle his mum had gone home too…
Vaughan finished the race in third place having got stuck behind two other riders leading into the tight finishing stretch along the parade. A good day for Vaughan, a good day for Orange and a good day for everyone attending this unique and fun race. More like this please.
For us this was the stand out bike of the race. A custom painted Apple Green Clockwork frame (which is an option on the Clockwork Pro) sporting the finest Renthal and Hope components. Lightweight for quick acceleration, fat tyres for grip and relative comfort and good looks to wow the crowds.