Sunday, 16 October 2011

'Cross Race Number Two - 3rd!!

With a round of the Central Cyclo-Cross League in my home town of Hemel Hempstead on a bright, sunny October afternoon I was struggling for excuses not to do this race. The 1 o'clock start meant I could take a leisurely ride there and still have plenty of time for a practice lap, even after a lazy Sunday morning.

The course was very different to the one at Basildon (most notably missing the huge hill in the middle) and wound up and down some small grass banks, through some sweet, tight and twisty singletrack and included some extremely off-camber sections that would have been very interesting in the wet. Fortunately the grass could only be classified as 'slightly damp in places' today and the coating of dust on my frame increased lap by lap.

Today's race was also 20 minutes longer, being lumped in with senior men this time. I was feeling quite good, despite the hours of exercise clocked up this week and now having some idea of how hard I can go in these events decided to push myself until I finished or blew up.

Unlike last week though I wasn't really chasing anyone and couldn't see anyone chasing me and ended up playing cat and mouse with a couple of guys for the first 5 laps - they would get a good lead on me around the fields and then I'd be right on their wheel through the singletrack. I'm astounded at how many of the riders couldn't ride even the most basic singletrack quickly!

Exactly one hour later the race finished with a sprint for the line between me and 1st place (alright, she'd lapped me, but a sprint finish is always fun) and I completed the 8 laps to finish a surprising 3rd. (Results position 68.) Looking at the lap times I was pretty consistent too, with a variation of just 10 seconds between all the laps (not including the start loop on the first lap.)

I treated myself to a post-race slice of cake and a cup of tea and then gently rode the 4 miles home in the sunshine. All in all a pretty good Sunday afternoon, I could get used to this...


simondbarnes said...

Well done!

> I'm astounded at how many of the riders couldn't ride even the most basic singletrack quickly!

So am I every time I race. The same people are even worse at wet, off camber grass. I overtook about a dozen people lying on the floor at one race last year. Shame I'm so slow on the flat grassy/muddy bits.

MTB Girl said...

I find it odd that cyclo-cross racers can't ride wet, muddy fields, I thought that's what they did! But you're not the only person to say it.
I swear one guy jumped off on the practice lap and was running down a gentle slope with some roots on it and a 90 degree turn at the bottom.
If I can get quicker on the grassy/muddy bits, I should clean up! ;-

simondbarnes said...

The guys (and girls) at the sharp end are very accomplished riders. The rest seem to mostly be roadies who are good at sprinting off the start and riding quickly on the dull bits but are terrified of roots, corners and cambers :)