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

  • Early Christmas Presents

    Getting the water barrel trolley stuck in the mud while dragging them over to the pits before today’s race should have told me all I needed to know about the conditions awaiting me.
    Actually, no, coming within a whisker of getting the van stuck in the mud within seconds of turning off the main road onto the race site should have told me all I needed to know. This was not to be a fast, dusty race. The big chainring was to be of no use today. Socks were destined to be soggy.

    I still felt the need to pre ride the course and discovered, to my delight, that it was an absolute hoot to ride (those bits that were rideable, anyway). My ‘cross skillset needs lots of work and this race course had chance after chance to work on them. Slippy, slidey corners, run ups, drops and plenty of places to practice the sort of mid race decision making that can move you up the results sheet; is it faster to run / follow the line of those in front or ride that line over there / swap bikes or keep pushing on on the current bike etc. The best gift an aspiring ‘cross racer could get!

    Thanks to the slower nature of the conditions, I didn’t get a bad start at all. Certainly, as we passed the pits for the first time I was up amongst the fast starters, which I tried to ignore while getting on with concentrating on my lines, riding smoothly, staying clipped on and pedalling through the corners while always looking for alternative lines to keep the pace up. Oh and running properly too. Lots of that!

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    Somewhat unluckily, on that first lap I managed to bugger up a small stream crossing – catching an unseen rock under the slop that pitched me off to the side – and landed splat in the cold, grubby water. Hoping no-one caught the incident on camera I clambered up and set about getting back on terms with the riders that had gone through while I splashed about!
    The tortuous nature of the mud took it’s toll on both riders and bikes, with many having mechanical issues. While chasing Rob Rowson my chain jammed itself up between the chainring and the frame, luckily a hasty bit of back pedalling got it free before any damage was done to the rest of the drivechain, but I decided to ease back slightly to nurse the bike round and swap on the next pass of the pits.

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    Within a lap the 2nd bike was having similar issues, the gears slipping under power as some gravel caught in the rear cassette called for more gentle pedalling. Despite not being able to really hammer the pedals, as more and chainsuck threatened to rip the rear mech off, I was able to keep competitive – another bike swap gave me clear tyres that let me really play in the corners (as did properly low tyre pressures – tubs are ace!) and a final swap for the last half lap, which may sound a bit decadent but really was needed, saw me roll over the line in a “grinning because it was great fun but not beaming because it wasn’t a Christmas miracle result” 5th place. I’ll take that, especially if I can have as much fun as that every time! 🙂

    Stuck record time: THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN AND EVEN MORE THAN NORMAL to everyone in the pits for me – every time I wanted a clean bike I got one (this takes A LOT of work and makes everyone involved bloody awesome in my book). Thank you to everyone cheering me on round the course, at the risk of sounding like I’ve had too much mulled wine, winter’s got nothing on the warmth amongst the NW CX community, I love that we’re all in it together and know that making the atmosphere at these races is as important as riding and finally thank you to everyone putting these races on; the hard work is totally TOTALLY worth it.
    If any of you need a good word putting in with Santa this year, point him in my direction. 🙂

     

    11:12 pm on December 22, 2018 | 2 Comments | # |

Comments

  • Dave Haygarth 7:37 am on December 23, 2018 | #

    Bloody bloody ace wannit eh?

  • dgpowell 8:12 pm on December 23, 2018 | #

    Certainly was. 🙂

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