• Back at it for the first time

    By golly I’ve missed cyclocross racing. By the time I’d parked the van at Blakemere I was ready to get ragging round the field, in fact by the time I’d filled the van with all the nonsense that seems to go along with racing cyclocross these days (once upon a time it was one bike > ride to race > race > ride home on what was left of that one bike, now there’s two bikes plus spare wheels plus warm up wheel & turbo, 2 full sets of kit, track pump, jetwash, numberous barrels of water & other bike cleaning stuff, etc etc etc. Enough to fill a medium sized van, basically) I was ready to get stuck in. Pre riding the course and cheering on the V50s for a bit wasn’t doing the trick, I needed to get stuck in 🙂

    As my first race as a V40 I wasn’t gridded (I could probably have begged and pleaded to be let up near the front row, but the idea of doing a “don’t you know who I am” didn’t really sit too well with me), so I lined up a few rows back and, after some gentle banter (“Who let all these kids in”/”You know about the rule where we stop mid race for our Complan” etc) it was finally time for that last pre-start whistle deep breath.
    I’d been training well for it and knew I was in decent form, Lee from Transition Coaching’s been putting in lots of effort to get me ready to race. This may not have been our ‘peak’, but I knew that start whistle wasn’t just for this race but for my next step in getting properly fast and fit. I think I got my best ever “off the start” first few pedal strokes as the whistle blew through an explosion of giddiness! We’re off!

    Within seconds everything felt right with the world again. Fighting my way up through the field during the frantic first lap – ‘cross is a lot more physical than road racing, there’s quite a bit more leaning on each other through the turns when you’re all battling for the same line, somehow though it’s always good natured. There’s some touching of elbows and you might run a bit wide on a corner if someone’s trying to pass you, you know that you’ll receive the same when you’re the one overtaking, it’s just part of it, it’s racing. It’s ace. especially when you’re all flat out on a great, swooping fast course.
    I got up to a group of about 5 people up at the front and took another deep breath. Onwards and upwards.

    Up into 2nd, with Ste Henshaw right with me – retaking the place each time we got to the barriers I was opting to dismount for while he hopped over them (we may only have been a couple of laps in but I was already planning on keeping myself upright and safe until the business end of the race) – always flat out and absolutely loving it.
    As happened a few times last season, I lost concentration for just a second, this time while making a relatively slow turn across a gravel track and completely lot the front end as the front tyre gave up traction, dumping me down on my right knee and (worse, as fa as I was concerned) on the drivechain side of the bike.

    I left up, remounted and did the classic “don’t look, just hope everything’s still working” gear shift. The mech started clattering against the spokes well before I was in 1st gear. My leg was pretty scuffed up too, but who cares about that, the mech’s buggered!
    I nursed the bike back to the pits (if I’m being honest it worked just fine for most of the lap I had to get round, as long as I didn’t need to change down any lower than 3rd, but you never give it 100% if you’re half expecting something to give up completely). On to the spare bike and down to 5th.

    It took me a lap or two to get back into the swing of the race (and to ignore my now quite sore knee!). I managed to get back on terms with the 3rd and 4th place riders (Roy and Bill – I’m learning who’s who in this category one race at a time!), eventually crossing the line in 4th after (and this is slightly embarrassing) forgetting that we only race for 40 mins not 50, d’oh!

    First race over. My form is good. My bikes work when I don’t smash them into the ground (thankfully it was just the easily replaceable mech hanger that was damaged). Everyone I’m racing with seems to be loving it as much as I am. Can’t wait for the next one. 🙂


    10:03 am on September 3, 2019 | Comments Off on Back at it for the first time | # |