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

January 12, 2020

No. Positivity.

Filed under: Uncategorized — dgpowell @ 8:34 pm

The whistle goes and to my delight I feel my left foot clock positively into the pedal before it’s even swung through 45 degrees. I get, for once, for me, a decent start. In most races it would be a great start, but the National Championships is a big race for most people and everyone’s at their best, so I find myself pretty much holding my own – still just about second row as the speed briefly maxes out down the short tarmac start straight.

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Another rider has got alongside me and, having the inside line for the first corner, is edging ahead. He veers across in front of me and I hear the terrifying TWANG TWANG TWANG as his right foot starts to make contact with the spokes of my front wheel. In my mind I can already see the world pivot wildly to one side, accompanied by the hideous sound of aluminium ripping out of carbon fibre. The crunch of rider hitting the floor at full pelt, the howl of panicked braking from immediately behind and the crack crunch of bikes hitting the floor as the ripple of a huge start straight crash ends my race in the most painful way.
No.
I’m not having that.
Somehow I manage to flick my front wheel away from his heel as it drops and stop any damage. It robs me of some speed at a hugely inopportune moment and sees me swerve slightly towards Nick Whitley, who is thankfully able to lean on me to get past. I hemorrhage more places as I find myself away from any lines I’ve pre-ridden and unsure of levels of grip where I am, but I snap myself back into race attitude as quickly as possible.

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Working on the assumption I’m in about 20th I set about finding some positives and doing the best thing you can do – race yourself back up through the field. I was gridded 14th, so I’ve not thrown away the whole race (OK it would be fair to argue that it’s not like it was exactly mine to throw away in the first place!), I’ve just given myself more to do. Best crack on with it then!
The ground conditions are ‘heavy’. You need to deliver a lot of power on the straights to make progress. I can do that. I can churn with the best of them. Smooth, diesel power!

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4 laps in and I’m back up to about 11th. The woodland section of the race course SHOULD be great fun. Although the course tape is wide all the way through, a single line that resembles a piece of the best ribbony singletrack has formed through most of it. It SHOULD be all about flicking the bike through with a (max heart rate tainted) grin plastered across my face, but I’m not riding as smoothly as I can (OK it would be fair to assume this means I was riding pretty rigidly!). I fail to spot a tree root facing diagonally across the apex of a tighter corner and learn about it’s existence as it spits my front wheel out from underneath me. To underline the stupidity of my momentary lack of concentration, I feel my right pedal harshly scrape up my calf, adding a physical sting to the 3 hard won places I lose scrabbling to get up.
No.
I’m not having that.

Back up and one deep breath as I remount. I’ll just have to get those places back straight away. Back to chasing people down, getting past and heading straight for the next victim to catch!
Realising I’m not riding very smoothly I resort to just staying upright on the “course features” and issuing forth as much power whenever the chance arises. I have more than enough and I’m able to open gaps as more laps pass by.
I know the race is reaching it’s conclusion because those around me (including in the pits!) look tired. I don’t want it to stop! I’m vaguely aware that I’m hovering in or around 10th and that there are at least two more places only a handful of seconds ahead of me.

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I see what I hope to be the ‘next catch’ just ahead as we ride through the 2nd passing of the pits. The gap is shrinking as we approach the freshly constructed bridge and dismount to clamber up the almost-knee-high steps. He stumbles and trips as he reaches the top. The gap is barely there. We almost dismount in unison to run through the muddy zig zags before the finish straight. He remounts earlier than me and gets bogged down with wheelspin and I’m alongside. I hurl myself back on with all the subtlety and smoothness I can muster, only to discover a usually insignificant speck of gravel has embedded itself in the space between my left cleat and the shoe. I can’t clip in.
I roll across the line a few seconds back and smack the shoe against the pedal a few times, not in frustration, just in acceptance that it could have happened to anyone.

10th.
I find it funny, in all the post race chat (slowest moving thing in the universe: a cyclocross racer heading back to their car/van past all their friends and adversaries. Never more than 3 steps taken before another stop to chat, enthuse, exaggerate, play down and offer opinion on every minutia of the last hour), that so many people are impressed with the result. I’m delighted with how fit I was, but disappointed with what I’ve missed out on.
No, I decide as I start to repack the million and one things that seem to be required for cx racing nowadays.
I’m not having that.
It was a decent showing and a great place to beat next time round. I raced against genuinely talented people and found a way to match them. Now I have to go one step further. Lets crack on!

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