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Cyclo Cross for week ending 11th Octber 2015


By brian_perry - Posted on 13 October 2015

CX from Paddy Ashcroft
Having spent the whole summer wearing the missus down about how I *needed* a 'cross bike (n+1 and all that) I finally got the royal seal of approval a few weeks back. With the new steed in the locker I thought it was about time it got an outing in anger and I duly entered Round 3 of the Central League in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday 11th October. The not so eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that this is not the league to which we are affiliated but without a Wessex CX event on that weekend it was the nearest race I could enter and also I knew that if it went badly I could deny everything. So it was with a keen sense of excitement that I rolled up  ready to lose my CX virginity. The local organisers were friendly and well-prepared and handed me the number 1 at sign-on, clearly a terrible prediction of my finishing place.  It was a fine day for racing: the course navigating through a park on the side of a hill, the ground mostly firm and the sun shining. I got my sighter lap in just before the gun and made the usual nervous adjustment to the tyre pressure based on nothing remotely scientific. The race began at the bottom of the park and after a frantic 50m turned straight up the hill which immediately split the pack up. The circuit proceeded to snake around the top of the park and included an in-out double tight spiral before dropping down to the bottom of the park. Just after the turn was a double barrier which removed almost all of the speed from the descent and although not large, these were too high for most to bunny-hop. The route then snaked up and down the park a couple of times before reaching the finish. 7 mins in and one lap completed I was really feeling the pace and wondered if I could keep going like that to the finish but as the race wore on I got used to intense efforts required, with no time to recover from one incline to the next. The remounts had worried me slightly as I'd had a few "incidents" in practice but in the end it was the speedy dismount that I found harder to judge. In the end I finished two laps down on the winner (lapped for the second time in the final couple of corners) and 29th out of 41 starters in the Seniors category. I've no idea whether this is good or bad but I do know it was possibly the toughest hour I've had on a bike - Av HR of 186bpm - but also one of the most enjoyable, even if the lungs are still gurgling away this evening. Oh and just to add insult the winner only had one gear on his bike. At least it won't be too long before I can race with the Vets.

This was a well-run event and felt like a good place to start my 'cross escapades. The course was relatively straightforward and with only one set of obstacles is well-suited to the novice. I'd wholeheartedly recommend it although I think it lacks technical challenges for the more experienced. I'll definitely be racing more this autumn and will be back out there busting a gut next weekend at our Bill Higson Memorial race at Prospect Park. Hopefully my report will inspire someone to come and have a go at RCC's own event. There were plenty of people on MTBs and other bikes on Sunday so don't let the lack of a dedicated CX machine put you off and with a race to suit every age, skill level and gender there is fun for all the family.

Or why not come out to watch and support your Club's promotion? I hear one or two marshals might still be appreciated!

Paddy Ashcroft