Cyclo X ride report



A

Andrew

Guest
I didn't have such sore knees I could kick myself for not riding cyclo
cross sooner, I was warned it's addictive and it is.
The Scottish cyclo cross circus came to town on Sunday (Heathall), and as it
was run by the TLI, I knew I could cruise up 30 minutes before the start,
sign on for a fiver and race with the big boys, so that's what I did.

A lovely crisp winters day meant I rode the few miles to start and as I
wheeled over to sign on, received a number of friendly smiles and waves, the
brotherhood of "people who should know better spending their time cycling in
muddy fields" is a strong one.

I met up with Gareth, my star team-mate and Commonwealth games rider and we
swapped bike information. One of Scotland's top riders was using a 2nd hand
frame made from scaffold tubing, lashed on was a mish mash of components and
what looked like spare mountain bike wheels. Your daring author had a top
range giant alu cross bike complete with carbon forks and extras, proof
indeed that winning bike races comes from pushing the pedals not pushing
money across the counter.

Pretty soon most riders were doing warm up laps and chatting away, some
looking at my bike and asking if I'd done this before, none believing me
when I said no - why do cyclists assume if you have all the kit you must be
good, why cant they just assume you're a thrifty bargain hunter?

A quick line up at the start, I let the fast riders go in the front row and
I take my place with the jokers in the rows behind. The off sees clicking
pedals and frantic sprinting from the front group which instantly splits the
race into two bunches within 200 yards. I get a relatively good start and
leave the start finish area hanging onto the tailcoats of the front riders.
We hurtle down a disused WWII runway and leap into the muddy forest at the
end. Instinctively I slow down to approach anything muddy and am instantly
passed. Into the wood and a dozen drainage channels mean we are bunny
hopping with some mid air collisions. I am overgeared and roll slowly over
the bunny hops unable to change down. Out of the wood and onto muddy
singletrack we tackle a swooping bend and a tight corner onto a fireroad.
Refusing to believe I can stay upright on a muddy bend I take it wide and
another rider undertakes and laughs at my cornering skills. Bouncing down we
hurtle towards the first running climb. I've secretly been practising the
ancient art of cyclo cross run ups and as I approach the foot of the climb,
I unclip the my right foot, swing it over the frame and as I glide up,
gracefully unclip my left foot and leap gazelle like onto the climb. I haven
't practised the ancient art of cyclo cross mounts yet and at the top of the
climb make a clumsy effort to mount and ride into a bush. Spiting ferns out
of my mouth, I pedal frantically down a muddy road and twist back towards
the woodland. By this stage the leaders are already out of sight. Into the
wood for more slippy single track, another run up which is far too muddy for
any graceful dismount, more mud and I swing into the start / finish area for
a lap of the field. I'm totally anaerobic and wondering how long I can
maintain this pace, the field is already strung out so I try and keep with
the 3 riders in my grupetto. Into the finishing straight there's another
jump, I mess up and dismount a good 20 yards from it, with no sense of
embarrassment I run towards it, leap over it with a 'Wayne Sleep like' kick
of the ankles and spin away toward the airfield to complete my first lap in
about 6 minutes, only 54 minutes to go!.

Into the woods again and my bette noir from the summer racing, Tommy is in
front. I hear him call to his family, "you cheered me and then I fell off",
and so, thinking it a fair tactic, I encourage his family to cheer him on.
Pretty soon we are a threesome as we leave Tommy behind, I'm ashamed to find
later on he fell off 3 times.

By this stage I have my second wind as do most riders, we have settled into
a groove, the fast lads way in front, the rest of us, plodding along and
trying to pick each other off when we can. On the run ups to the climb it
gets more muddied and trampled and I start to slip and crawl up. At the top,
I frantically bang my feet on the pedals, trying to dislodge the mud and
clay that stops my feet clipping into the bindings. Up front, my two travel
companions and I see the rider from the cyclocrosser website and put our
heads down and try to catch him. The laps grind by, on the flats that
require no technical ability, I lead the others, anything that requires
technical skills, I fall behind, but each lap I manage to smile and wave to
my wife who seems to be enjoying the fun as a spectator. Into the woods, we
catch the cyclocrosser website dude, who instantly pulls away from me as we
hit the drainage bunny hops. He then lets out an ear piercing shout, I think
he's met one of the wild gruffolos that still live in these woods, but
worse, he's punctured!. "Bad luck" as I ride by. I later learn that he ran
the ½ mile back to the start, changed his tube and finished the race - how
cool is that?

A shout from behind and we pull to the side to be lapped by the three
frontrunners. I'm pleased to see Gareth there and shout encouragement, along
with a plea not to lap me too many times.

Towards the end it gets harder and my run ups become even less graceful, but
not as graceless as the rider in front, who with a heavy mountainbike finds
it easier to throw his machine at the barrier and break through it. With no
idea of the time, I beg the marshals at the start finish area to ring the
bell, they just smile and tell me to keep going. Into the woods again and I
bounce over the drainage bumps, far to fast, with my wheels in the air my
feet unclip and I land with a bump. "Nice technique" says my mountainbike
friend as he passes me. Slipping through the mud I hear a shout behind,
another rider lapping me, I let him through and he thanks me.

Plugging my way along the singletrack I get held up by a slower rider and
although it does my ego good to lap people the two others pull away from me.

Finally they ring the bell and I know I have one last lap to go, I can't see
anyone in front of me, but then I can't see anyone behind me, so I ease a
little and try to stay upright. At the last jump, I'm too tired to try
anything much and simply walk over it with my bike and casually wheel into
the finish to claim 12th spot or thereabouts. Whilst I was grinding out my
last lap, I hear that Gareth took the win in a tight sprint from the very
talented junior ride Ross Creber, so at least club honour was maintained.

It's a shame that most Scottish cross races seem to be this side of
Christmas, however, Dumfries are holding another race in February and I'll
be back to have another crack at those run ups and drainage channels.
 
D

David Martin

Guest
Andrew wrote:
> I didn't have such sore knees I could kick myself for not riding cyclo
> cross sooner, I was warned it's addictive and it is.
> The Scottish cyclo cross circus came to town on Sunday (Heathall), and as it
> was run by the TLI, I knew I could cruise up 30 minutes before the start,
> sign on for a fiver and race with the big boys, so that's what I did.


A cracking write up.. Sounds a lot of fun. Do they do pint sized races
for fat unfit people like me?
An hour of it seems a long time..

...d
 
S

Simon Brooke

Guest
in message <[email protected]>, Andrew
('[email protected]') wrote:

> I didn't have such sore knees I could kick myself for not riding cyclo
> cross sooner, I was warned it's addictive and it is.
> The Scottish cyclo cross circus came to town on Sunday (Heathall), and
> as it was run by the TLI, I knew I could cruise up 30 minutes before
> the start, sign on for a fiver and race with the big boys, so that's
> what I did.


Oooh good. Glad to see you posted it. Excellent report. And congrats,
BTW.

--
[email protected] (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/
;; Generally Not Used
;; Except by Middle Aged Computer Scientists
 
P

Paul - xxx

Guest
Andrew came up with the following;:

snipped a great write-up ... ;)

> Finally they ring the bell and I know I have one last lap to go


Almost a heavenly sound ... ;)

--
Paul ...
(8(|) Homer Rules ..... Doh !!!
 

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