Well, the North West Cyclocross League is done and dusted (mudded?) for another year and I’m hugely chuffed to have finished in 4th place overall. Best ever. A big step in the right direction and lots of ideas left for next season and how to improve and really start chasing the last lads
The actual end to the season went without too much in the way of ace results – Macclesfield promised big things (I really like the course and there’s usually a few extra top level riders looking for some late season form). Gridded on the front line with some of the National Trophy glory hunters behind me it could have been ace. Unfortunately I slipped a pedal off the start. Big time. Slamming my clipped-in foot down on the floor instead of pushing off, skewering the back of my leg, from below the ankle to just below the calf, on the chainring on the way past for good measure:
Instantly out of the back I spent the rest of the race swearing at the sore leg and working my way back up towards the front of the race. I ran out of time eventually finishing in 14th. Drat.
Pic By Ellen Isherwood
My final “bothered about” ( ) race of the season was the big one, the National Championships. Last year I ended up getting lapped after crossing the line for the final time so go to “finish” properly. Which might not sound like anything impressive, but I was happy enough with it and had hoped to build on it. The year I prepared as best I could – pre-riding the course the day before to get an idea of how to get round and repeating this on race day in between the other races to see how the lines had changed but in the end I just didn’t have the firepower to compete.
I managed to avoid the annual ‘big crash off the start line’ but my lack of off-the-line sprinting power left me dangling off the front few groups straight away. Despite my riding the course beforehand I just didn’t commit to the racing line, losing ground on the tricky sections (of which there were many) while the country’s best riders utterly smashed it off in front of me. I listened to the race commentary as best I could over the cheering crowds (and they were damn good cheering crowds!), getting more and more depressed/impressed as the gap to them grew at an alarming rate.
After about 45 minutes of so Ian Field lapped me – just after I’d crossed the finish line, so I got to ride one more lap before being unceremoniously removed from the race. On the ‘top’ part of the course, with it’s wide, fast flowing corners I didn’t lose much ground to him, maybe a couple of seconds – and even those were partly due to me trying to keep as far out of the way as possible. Once we got to the technical stuff though, he was almost instantly gone. Even with the excuse that I still wasn’t committing to riding the race lines properly (usually riding round the corners hanging a foot out for stability, or not really ‘railing’ the ruts that had formed in some of the tighter corners) the huge gulf in skill level between us was painfully obvious. At my best, I’d still have been a wobbling shambles in comparison!
Mincing. Oh the shame of it. Pulled from the race early. Pic from the Kinesis Facebook Page
I gloomily trudged back the the pits, where the other Horwich guys had been frantically and fantastically running around getting my bikes washed and ready each half lap and started wondering how to improve for next time.
Thanks (by which I mean BIG BIG THANKS) to everyone who’s supported me, pitted for me, lent me stuff when my stuff has broken, cheered me on, heckled me, orgainsed or marshalled at any of the events, chatted to me, put up with my tantrums or any poor riding I’ve stuffed out, raced against me, beaten me (in races I mean), been gracious when I’ve somehow managed to beat them and even just read this waffle. Cyclocross racing is pretty much the best form of mucking about on bicycles there is and, without wanting to sound all mushy, you make it as good as it is. Because of you lot I get to have loads of fun, week in week out and it’s bloody brilliant
Saying all that, I might go and race in Ilkley next weekend, to extend the season a bit, well see how much cake I eat during the week