SUNNY weather and largely dry surfaces tempted 176 riders, including 60 children, to try their hand at the winter discipline of cyclo-cross when St Ives Cycling Club hosted its inaugural cyclo-cross race at Grafham Water.

The event, which was round nine of the Eastern Cyclo-Cross League, used a 3km course behind Grafham Cycles and the route took in a wide variety of terrain including woodland trails and sections of 'beach' adjacent to the water's edge.

For the club's National Veterans Road Race Champion, Mike Cowland, these provded to be only small obstacles as he stormed home to finish in sixth overall in the Elite race, ahead of St Ives rider Hugo Hocknell who finished ninth.

League regular Phil Peacock was hoping to solidify his Championship second place but was left disappointed when a tyre problem forced his early retirement on the first lap.

Luke Hattersly was hoping to take overall honours in the junior category but was also forced to retire after the unfamiliar demands of cyclo-cross caused him agonizing leg cramps.

In the more relaxed children's race, St Ives had five children enter and Tom Watts in 17th was the first in finishing 24 places higher than his father in the veterans' race.

Another regular club rider, Holly Hoy, finished in 21st and Sophie Saberton and Alex Hodson also rode strongly, Alex being one of only two under-8s to take part.

In the under-14 category 'Go-Ride' regular Ryan Davies did well and completed one lap of the full adult course including the much-feared scramble in the tricky beach section.

In the veterans' race, many St Ives riders thought they would have a go on their mountain bikes. First home was running expert Paul Veitch, and he was hotly pursued by Alan Moules and Michael Watts. Tim Parish, who tried cyclo-cross for the first time, said: "It's just so completely different to the six-hour Sportives I usually ride".

Club chairman Roger Tyler also enjoyed himself managing to retain a smile all the way to the end of the demanding 40 minutes of racing.