Sunday, 9 December 2012

Didcot Pheonix cyclo - cross 2012

Steeper than it looks
Last Sunday I was the only LBRCC riding the eighth round of the central League cross. And it was a fair old jaunt to the venue at Sonning Common, so I was hoping for good things.
I wasn't sure what to make of the day. The morning had brought icy conditions, but the sun was shining? I guess deep down I knew it would be a tough one.
I arrived early to find the course windswept and freezing. For the first time this year I went out for practice in full leggings and waterproof jacket. A reccé was essential. The drag out of the start was a layer of wet mud on a solid ice base, just one way to ride that - hard. Then the three left turn uphills, these were rideable last year but this year it was different and not a single rider rode all three. After the climbs comes the drag, slightly uphill and the length of two pitches. This section is my Achillies heel no mater how much I bury myself along here I get passed. Then into the twist n turns where I can make up ground, though not enough to get back my lost places. Then off the claggy grass and into the woodland bomb holes. I love this bit, the slipping the tight turns and the wheelie you have to commit to if you want to clear the massive root blocking your way. Out of the wood land and a few slippery turns to the hurdles, always a treat. And then head down and blast to the line. That's the practice lap. I did another just to get the markers and went off course to get ready.
After a muddle with gridding we were off. I buried myself getting past riders that had been incorrectly gridded and settled down to work. I thought I was doing well until a whole bunch of riders passed me on the straight, there was nothing I could do to match them. Lap one went well, I had it sussed and barring mechanicals I'd be okay.
Got the mark of this one
Into the start of lap two I noticed my nemesis Keith from Trisports closing down on me. I made a note of where he was so I could measure any progress next time around. I soon settled into my own race and overtook a few riders, though not as many as had overtaken me on the long straight. A few more laps later I noticed that keith was closing down on me. I went into a bit of a flap - twiddle or push. Then on the final lap, on the dreaded straight he went past. I tried to peg him but a few elites passed me and filled the gap. I could only watch him disappear into the woods. There was still a good bit of the lap to do, so I pushed hard, jumped the hurdles and got into the drops to head for the line. I was sending mud airborne as I sprinted to the finish. I crossed the line but Keith was already over the barrier tape.
I don't know what it was about today, but the camaraderie was great. There was healthy respect for everyone.
I'll av ya
I knew I had done my best, but there was no getting over the fact I'd been passed by a good number of riders. I'd ridden hard, I'd got the techy stuff right. Was it fitness or set up? We'll see at Hillingdon for round nine.

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