Won a race once. AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT

  • aaarg!

    I love Peel Park cyclocross races. It’s such a good venue, with enough elevation difference to allow organisers some ‘proper’ descents, some really tough run ups, plenty of cambers of test skill and tyre pressure and enough natural obstacles and open spaces to create a flowing, wide and still exciting route. Somehow it’s been combined with confusingly slippery mud to result in one of the best tests for the aspiring ‘crosser. It even looks good when you park up and watch the early races take place.

    Peel Park doesn’t like me though. Somehow I always end up doing badly there. It’s not easy for anyone – that super slippery mud somehow manages to wreck bikes and wear out pit crews & washing kit as fast as it does rear mechs (and at this point I’m going to point out how utterly heroic everyone from the Horwich pit crew were, once again. Teamwork counts for A LOT when the conditions are hard and Paul, Dave and Liz were well up for the challenge. Brilliant stuff!). Crashes are commonplace even at the pointy end of the races and all that climbing through ankle deep, will-sucking slop will test your fitness regime to the max. No-one finds it easy and TBH I’m fine with that. It’s as hard as it’s meant to be in my eyes. Somehow though, something extra seems to go wrong each time I pin a number on there.

    During the National championships there a couple of years ago my pedals jammed, leaving me struggling to unclip – something you do a LOT of at Peel Park, whether it be for the run ups or just to hang a steadying leg out on the slippery sections. I threw away place after place stuck at the side of the course trying to wrestle my foot out of the pedal. The National Trophy round there a year later went a similar way, with gear issues losing me any chance of a decent race.

    This time round I expected any performance problems to stem from a lack of sleep the night before (Happy Birthday Jacqui, BTW! Great party! πŸ™‚ ), however despite making sure both bikes were in full working order I was hampered to the extreme by my shoes giving up on me on the first lap.
    I’d fitted new pedals and, although I remembered (on the start line…) to slacken the release tension on them, within seconds of the starting whistle I could tell something was very wrong. I’d been given a front row start (ace) and even managed to get clipped in straight away (hurrah!), so should have been able to hold a decent place during the start sprint, but something was twisting around on my foot. Was the pedal loose in the crank?! Nope. Was the cleat loose in the shoe?! Didn’t seem to be. So what TF is it?! I found myself wondering as I went backwards through the pack.

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    I discovered after the first off-the-bike- section. The entire sole of the shoe had come apart! Bits of the tread were sticking out and hanging off all over the place, to the extent that they were getting caught up in the chain and pushing it off the chainring every few pedal strokes. Off the bike, I was essentially trying to run through the mud on a super slick soled road shoe (the tread just dangling about uselessly off to the side). Race, pretty much, over.

    Rather than DNF I just walked/jogged/did anything I could to get round as the shoe fell apart more and more. Despite the races taking place in winter it’s very rare that you ever get cold while taking part, such is the usual intensity, but this time I did. Trotting about the place with one legs sliding out randomly wasn’t hard enough to keep me warm (and the wafts of hot vimto from the NWCCA Pom Pom Team were hellishly tempting). I finished many, many laps down, feeling pretty dejected. Not sulky, because of course sulking about bicycle racing in the park would be pretty pathetic, but a tad miserable.

    One day I’ll have a good race there. In fact a good race anywhere would be nice about now! πŸ™‚

     

    11:07 am on December 3, 2018 | No Comments | # |

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