Twinkly Dave – Mud splattered bicycle and pizza enthusiast Growing old disgracefully

December 31, 2014

Snakes and ladders

Filed under: Racing — dgpowell @ 3:44 pm

Macclesfield is, according to people who know about this sort of thing, my kind of cyclocross race course. Plenty of places to put down the power. A few draggy climbs that will seek out and show up any weakness. Plenty of flat out fast corners and loads of wide sections to give you multiple line choices (and overtaking space). It sounded great.
Of course, that sounds like a lot of people’s style of race course and – given it’s mid-Christmas break timing – lots of fast people turn up for it. I took my place up at the front of the field for gridding (yes, I’m into the top 20 now, so get gridded) only to find myself stood next to a shiny white skinsuit with National Champion colours on it. And very shiny shoes. My still-mud-encrusted-from-last-weekend old Mavics suddenly looked rather out of place. I should probably clean them at some point.
A decent start was hampered by the guy in front of me slipping a pedal and nearly going flying. Well, I say it was hampered, but shiny white skinsuit got just as caught up as I did and managed to get going again quickly enough. And win the race. So I’ll stop trying to use it as an excuse. Anyway, I got through the first lap in the top 20 and, as per usual, set about working my way back up to people in front, pausing to catch my breath and then push on.

Monstercrossing for a lap while the ragley gets a wash in the pits. Pic from Steve Monks’ flickr page

The ground, that had been frozen earier in the day and had promised flat out fast racing, had thawed a bit by the mid afternoon start, leaving many of the corners quite slithery, with a few riders sliding out and crashing down mid race. For once this didn’t happen to me, I didn’t find myself back at the start, having to re-overtake anyone, so I rode myself up into the top 10 by the mid way point of the race.
I traded places with Kristian Spreckley, who I’ve had a few close races with this season, for a few laps before opening up enough of a gap to hold onto 7th place by the finish despite a few minor mistakes (top tip: don’t leave your spare bike in it’s biggest gear if the exit of the pits is uphill, you’ll just grind to a complete halt and look like an idiot!).

Looks lovely, doesn’t it. Shame it defrosted by the time I got to race on it!

And with that, my first proper season of cyclocross was, pretty much, over. 9 North West league races mean I will actually qualify for an overall position, and the 10 races I’ve done so far this winter have taught me a lot. Mostly that I know very little about cyclocross racing. There’s a lot to learn, not just about how to get fit for shorter, more intense races but also about the racecraft required to do well. The ‘art’, if you like, of ‘cross racing.
Basically I’ve learned that I’ve made it as far as the bottom rung of the ladder. The easy part’s over, if I want to get better and start creeping up the results lists, the hard work starts here!

December 23, 2014

Breaking the cycle

Filed under: Racing — dgpowell @ 7:41 pm

‘nother cyclocross race (that’s 9 so far this season – 8 in the North West league, so one more and I actually get a finishing place in said league!) ‘nother semi-half not too bad start followed shortly afterwards by ballsing it up. This time round I missed my line on a teeny tiny lump on the course (the very lump featured in the pic below in fact) and flung myself into some incredibly spikey bushes (the very spikey bushes featured in the pic below, in fact) and ended up not far off being last for a short while. Idiot!

Lots more chasing down took place, as per “usual”, with some proper pre-race course checking with the Horwich lads paying off on the tricky sections, combined with laying down all the (feeble) power I had on the straights. I worked my way back up to 8th despite a few more cock ups, but couldn’t string a decent enough lap together to get and stay past 7th. Ho hum.

It finished with me feeling like I’d missed an opportunity to get another really decent finish, but I guess that’s good in it’s own way.

Next up in the Macclesfield Supacross. Apparently it’s quite an event and all the big boys come out to play (I’ve never done it, so I wouldn’t know!). The course should, apparently, suit me quite well, so here’s hoping for a mistake free race for once! 🙂

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