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  • 11:31:11 am on November 13, 2017 | 0 | # |

    Ulverston cyclocross
    Pic by…ME! For once…

    A new (to me, it’s been used in the past apparently, but I’ve never raced there) venue last weekend – near Ulverston in Cumbria. Parking up in the car park for an industrial complex had me slightly worried about riding over toxic waste or something* but a short walk to the actual venue laid any fears to rest as the race itself was being held right on the coast, with views from the start straight across Morecambe Bay. Properly lovely, with a beach and everything – where most of the under 12s seemed to disappear off to immediately after their respective races (and who can blame them!)
    The course was brilliant, fast flat bits, short sharp climbs,s a few little descents to fling yourself down, off camber bits (right outside the sign on building, so you always had an audience for the tricky stuff…making for a great atmosphere) and several different types of mud. Yep, different types of mud. Some “catch you out” slidey stuff on the flatter, grassier sections, some “clog your bike up” stuff on the swoopy up-down bits round the back of the course and even some stodgy “make it hard work” stuff on the climbs. Brilliant. It remained all rideable too, which made it even better.

    Unsurprisingly, the race itself was really good, with different sections suiting riders strengths/weaknesses so people would get gaps/close up/overtake/get dropped etc as it progressed. No mechanical issues for me this week, with bike changes taking place just to make sure I didn’t knacker anything drivechain related by riding it with too much mud stuck in the mech. No brilliant result either, but I felt good and rode quite well (for me, in fact I found myself genuinely enjoying sliding the bike around a bit!) with no crashes, just a few minor mistakes allowing a gap to Martin to open up which meant I finished in 5th.

    I also (accidentally!) shoulder barged a marshal as he tried to repair a bit of course tape on one of the tighter corners mid-race. Apologies to him for that!

    *GSK actually make antibiotics there (I think…) so it anything, it’d probably be the cleanest, most sterile race course ever!

  • 10:33:53 am on October 31, 2017 | 1 | # |

    Well that went well.


    (Ok, I’m done with the Wayne’s World references now)

    Rounds 6 of the series already. This season is just flying by – thankfully there’s loads of races left, because so far it’s been a proper cx year. Mud. Hard racing against great people at really good events. You could not ask for more.

    Well, actually I could ask Santa for some skill (is is too early for Christmas references yet? Maybe I’ll go back to the Wayne’s World ones for a bit). Sunday’s race saw me mess up far too much, with poor – occasionally no – line choices, even after getting everything dialled (kind of) in the pre race practice, crashes, the lot. I’m re instigating my “Wednesday lunchtime skills in the park” sessions to try and get a bit better as I’m really losing out in any part of the race that’s remotely tricky. Fitness isn’t too bad – I seem to be able, even after generally poor starts, to pull myself back up through the pack towards the sharp end – so I’m happy with that, but yeah, time to start “playing out” a bit more :)

    (Pic by Alan Gibworth)

    Not that Sunday’s result was totally my fault; a sliced open tub left me trying to ride the tricky/rooty descent and following off camber sections on a pan flat front tyre (which still didn’t come off, might I add, showing off my gluing skills :) ) and a jammed front mech on the other bike meant I lost a fair chunk of time. I’d fought my way up to 2nd for a while (even with the crashes and generally crap riding) but couldn’t get any sort of advantage and ended up 4th. Bit gutted, but fair play to Tom and Adam who both just out rode me (and fair play to Martin who rode off for the win).

    Onwards and upwards. No race this weekend, which is good as I’ve loads of maintenance to do (new tub gluing, brake fettling, mech unjamming etc). If you need me, I’ll be trying to ride off cambers a bit better somewhere :)

  • 09:43:35 am on October 23, 2017 | 0 | # |

    I will never tire of telling people they filmed some of Chariots of fire at the Bebington Oval, where Sunday’s race was. Never. Even people who a) already knew and b) I’d told before, even though they already knew before I told them for the 1st time.

    They filmed some of Chariots of Fire there, you know.

    Anyway. Yes. Round 5 of the NWCCA league already. An exciting drive down through the arse end of a storm, nearly taking the pop-up roof off the van at one point, with plenty of reminiscing by me was we drove through the Wirral, past several childhood haunts, got us to the race site in time to see the under 8s learning the true meaning of cyclocross while grovelling through the mud. This year, the race would not be a dusty grass crit. :)

    A bit of pre race course examination revealed the usual nice mix of long straights interspersed with some lovely swoopy (and suprisingly tricky) corners, making the most of any cambers. As per usual, by the time us Seniors got to race on it, it was looking quite “bedded in” in places, with a couple of the straights now ankle deep running sections and a few utterly brilliant ruts appearing in the corners (who doesn’t love railing a rut like the pros eh!). Proper ‘cross.

    The race itself was a tad frustrating. A naff start, but getting back on terms with the front group within half a lap, then trying to ride when I should have just run dumped me further back that I’d have wanted, sounds like a repeat of pretty much every week for me so far this year. However usually I’ve had enough power to work my way back up quickly enough. Yesterday I really struggled to get any power going. I ground to a halt in mud that others ere able to keep their pace through. On the faster, drier sections I just couldn’t do my usual big-ring-smash effort to gain any advantage.
    Enough with the misery though, it was still utterly brilliant. More close racing. Ear to ear grins through the turns, trying to get them nailed faster and faster. Slithering about in the mud, letting the bike drift and catching potential crashes over and over again (apart from one or two…). Cross is totaly boss.

    Pic by Luke Davies – another pic taker on the Lancs Racing Scene facebook Group)

    5th and a “could have done better”.

    Next week. Leverhulme. Another power based fast course and another chance for some power to appear hopefully! :)

  • 07:32:15 pm on October 16, 2017 | Comments Off | # |

    NWCCA, round 4. Manchestah. /swaggers off wearing parker

    The sun kind of shone. It was warm enough for ice creams (with marshmallows on!) to be eaten. Hardly any mud. Much fastness. Lovely!
    Loads of swoopy up/down/round the trees bits, some flat out across the fields bits, a bit of classic off camber action and the odd sharp corner to brake check each other on.

    And therein lay the problem.

    1st lap. Semi-half decent start. Not struggling to stay in the front gaggle. Down the drop towards the pits, the drop with a sharp right/very sharp left combo, three abreast. The other two leave it to the last minute and dab nicely effective brakes to haul them up to make the turns, I squeeze my brake levers in unison with them…and go sailing on as pretty much nothing happens.
    Through the course tape.
    Straight on at the first corner.
    Just about stopped before the course cut back across me, just about preventing an awful t-boning incident with everyone in the top 10.

    Instantly down to about 23rd place. Bugger it.

    Rest of the race was spent chasing my way back up through the field with less braking power than any of them.

    Caught up to the back of a battle going on between Isaac Peatfield and Bruce Dalton, crashed on the off camber (not blaming the brakes for that). Chased back on again. Crashed and whacked the right hand brake lever out of place. Swapped bikes, chased back on for a 3rd time and just about got in front of them on the last lap after some utterly brilliant close racing. Ace stuff.

    Pic by Budge

    Only downer on what really was some great fun racing was the whole “what could have been if I had decent brakes/didn’t bin it so many times”.

    Next week: ScouseCross laa. :)

  • 11:18:16 am on October 9, 2017 | Comments Off | # |

    Round 3 of the NW CX league already! Time flies when you’re hub deep in mud, it appears :)
    A new venue for this year, at the Chipping Showground. Somewhere I’ve ridden past countless times on the way/from the Bowland hills and often wondered about; what was contained behind the gates…and now I know. Mud. Lots of it.
    After somehow avoiding eating my own weight in delicious smelling, freshly cooked food and cake I pottered round the course before the racing began. The phrase supermodder immediately came to mind! Lots of lovely flowing corners, some excursions into the woodland and some up-y down-y grass banks that I’d never spotted before, all lovingly coated in a thick layer of slimey mud. Ace.
    By the time my race set off it had been churned up royally by all the vets/women so had a fair amount of running in it, but those corners still flowed quite well and, hey, it’s still racing!

    (It is, of course, an Ellen pic)

    3rd in the end. Happy with that result, mostly down to grinding it out and keeping on smiling through the slog :)

    Sunday saw a return to The Rake in Ramsbottom for the annual hill climb. Some say that racing cx the day before is not the perfect lead into a 2 minute flat out effort. I tend to agree. Thing is, it’s such a good event it’s worth doing no matter how sore your legs/whatever else you crashed onto is/are. The atmosphere as you take the right turn onto the steepest slopes is amazing – a genuine crown, 2 or 3 deep in places screaming at you as all the blood rushes from your head and your legs truly start to pop. Just ace.

    (Ellen pic, obviously!)

    5 seconds slower than last time, and my backwards cap didn’t match the rest of my outfit (hill climb season is the only time of year you can wear a cycling cap backwards without being a douchebag), but it was still epic “fun”. The results put my in 15th place…though I think there might be a bit of a mix up as I’m faster than the person in 14th. Either way I didn’t win, but did leave with a head full ofideas about how to get faster for next year :)

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