The venue is the MK Bowl, so local as can be. The weather, shall we call it text book cyclo cross weather? After a very dry summer the rain has decided to make it's debut the same time as myself and six other members from the LBRCC were to race. In fact for Ross, Steve and Chris it was their cross debut. Ross and Steve were racing with Neil in the earlier novices race, whilst Chris was going in the later Seniors race. But with me today were Miles, and stepping up into vets for the first time Julian.
Race protocol put us....Miles and me in front with the vet 50 group, and Julian a minute later in vet 40. Race protocol also puts the current Masters World Champion on the front row of my group. It's probably a bit flattering that I get called up 5th to the grid shoulder to shoulder with the Rainbow stripes. I don't see him again until the pictures are published! Miles is called up just behind me. We're ready to race.
The heavens open.....even more. The course is now ripped up......pulse rate is rising and my mouths dry. The whistle goes and it's take no prisoners pace. We sprint for the hill in front, getting up this ahead is crucial. I do well avoiding the collisions on the bend at the top and get clear in 6th place. I won't hold this, but it means the others have to do the work.
The lap goes well, I do feel rusty though so I measure my efforts. That pays dividends later in the race.
|In the clear|
|Miles has it now|
I know Miles is right behind me, I see him on the switch backs and hear Ashley telling him to get me....cheers guys. On the second lap he does, passing and making space on the rough stuff. In an attempt to chase him down I overcook a descent. The brakes don't slow me down enough and I go over. No harm done I go back for my bike and press on. Miles is now away.
When I say no harm done, to me that is. I now have no rear brake, all the descents now take on a more challenging obstacle.
|As if it isn't hard enough!|
For the next two laps we play cat and mouse. I'm looking to see where Miles is slowest. Well it isn't the Sunday social club run is it. On the penultimate lap I'm on Miles wheel and I stay there. Then my luck turns for the better as Miles luck turns for the worst. I notice he is having gear trouble on the climbs so I wait for the last hill of the penultimate lap and pass....sorry Miles.
We get the bell, last lap. If Miles gears don't play ball I'll have it, that said I want my fellow LBRCC team mate to follow me in. I concentrate hard on the last lap, I can't cock up now. Then I get a rude awakening as Jules comes past with one kilometre to go, forgot about him! I shadow Jules around the last few bends. I can see he is being cautious with his recently mended collarbone. I tail in right behind Jules for the flag with Miles I think a few places down, but all within seconds of each other.
Then that's it. All nerves replaced with handshakes and smiles. A superb race.