Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Central CXL Round 10 Standalone Farm

It's Sunday it's cold and we're in a field in the middle of nowhere! Which means one thing....Cyclo cross. 18th January and round 10, the final round to be precise.
Again there's a good LBRCC turnout. Chris and Ross racing seniors. Darren and Jules racing in Vet/40. And Kevin, Miles and your's truly in Vet/50's Oh and 'Friend of the club' Nick of Giant Camden, actually on his first cross.
We arrive at Standalone Farm, a new venue and wander up the path to look at the circuit. We're greeted by a vast flat muddy sight. You look over the course and think hmmm. Then you go to walk off and your boots stay put, stuck in the mud. The hmmm becomes an uh oh.
We all have a practice lap, it is hellishly muddy and very very sticky. The course is so heavy that back markers are still on the course when we should be warming up on it. It's an absolute no no to pass people still racing no matter how slow they're going.
We obey the rules, do a lap, but we're no where near warmed up.....I will die.
Jules, Darren, Kevin, Miles, Nick and myself are called up to the starting grid. For some reason the powers that be have decided to set the Vet/40's off first, with the Vet/50's following minutes later. I prefer this though as we don't have the vast Vet/40 field chasing us down.
Jules, Darren and Nick go, the Vet/40's are on their way. I won't see them again until it's all over. Then Miles, Darren and me are gridded ready to go. It's a short lecture from the marshals and we're off.
Miles is off trying to get power down without much success. I'm following trying to take advantage of the corners to make some ground and Kevin is coming through strong on both turn and straight. When we settle into the race Miles has a lead, then Kevin with me the last of the LBRCC squad. I feel dreadful in this position and Miles stretches his lead on the long straight section. Kevin is well ahead as well.
However as the first lap comes to an end I find myself on Kevins wheel and with Miles only just ahead. We settle into a fairly tight 1 2 3. It's now that I decide to run the slow boggy corners, it works and I pass Kevin. I can tell straight away that running these sections has saved my legs. Kevin is still there though.
I'm closing on Miles now, and he elects to run as well. We are now racing classic cross.
I know Kevin is having problems with mud in the frame clearances and I know that Miles will be frustrated by the conditions not being able to lay power down.
That said we're still pretty well neck and neck when we start the final lap. I've had a terrible last half of the season and I'm determined to give it a good go today. So I pass Miles on the corners and take risks to gain some ground, I'm lucky and it works. The effort has put two other racers within catching distance, I power past them on the only little incline and put positions between myself and my club mates.
The flag is up ahead and I can just see Darren from Vet/40, but I won't have time to catch him. I jump the hurdles and the sleepers and run for the finish, then I decide to jump on the bike for a bit of a final flourish. Job done.
We're all in. And have done the club proud, not just today. but all season.
We go to the cars to get warm clothing to watch Chris and Ross race in seniors. It's the last race and these boys in these conditions are going to get mercilessly heckled. Chris is under the weather yet still gets a good start. Ross goes off fast and makes up a lot of early places.
We watch and heckle. It's clear that Chris's track style power is being affected by his illness, and drops off slightly, but holds onto a good overall position throughout the race. Ross is still going strong and we're shouting at him from the sidelines....HOON IT......RUN WITH IT....C'MON DON'T EFFING SLOW DOWN..poor bloke. The boys do well in a race that has simply become purgatory. So we're all done for 2014/2015
Driving home we talk about returning to normality on Sundays, club runs and plans for 2015. It's been a great experience to finally be able to race with club mates, and I'm already looking forward to the 2015/2016 season.
There are loads of images from this race. Thanks to Keith Perry, Kelly Tresham and all the others that capture our weekly gurning sessions.  Also articles in the Hitchin local the 'Comet' and the Leighton Buzzard Observer.
Jules out in Vet/40's
Pick it up and run

Nick. Giant Camden
Darren in Vet/40

Head to head with Kevin

Miles has the lead
Chris up front in seniors

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Central CXL Round 9 Stanborough Lakes Park

January 2015 and the LBRCC are in Welwyn for the penultimate round of the Central league 2014/15 season.
The usual suspects are all present. Chris and Ross in seniors. Jules, Andrew and Darren in Vet/40. And the dream team of Miles, Kevin and myself in Vet/50.
First the early excuses;
1) First race in ages due to being ill since October.
2) Accidently set the saddle 3/4" too high.......yes WTF indeed.
3) Overdressed, never worn longs, thermal or thick gloves when racing before.
4) Pratted about for too long and rushed getting my bike ready.
5) I've larded up an extra 3/4 stone

So anyway. The course was a corker, the sort of course you'd conjure up in your minds eye if you were thinking cross. Different  to last years course though. There was a tough little drop leading to a long climb, that was to be hard and a tight left hander into hurdles at the start of a climb, that was just cruel. The rest was rideable textbook stuff.
In warm up I found it all rideable apart from the hurdle climb. but after one circuit I stood about pontificating instead of getting ready or having another lap, so when the call up came I was freezing and ill prepared.
I was called up, but there were only two rows of vet/50's so for me position wasn't crucial, in fact Miles held back, wanted someone to chase?
We're sent off just ahead of a full, sold out Vet/40 field. They are going to come after us hammer and tong.
Kevin passes me on the lead out. And Miles is knocking at the door on the first technical. A rider gets a pedal in my front wheel and in that time Kevin is off. We all exit the turns and head for the hurdles. I close on Kevin and think that after a few laps he'll slow and I might bridge the gap.
We hit the steep drop, Kevin clears it. Miles has caught me and passes, but I pass him on the turn and lead up the long climb. This is killing me. I have a dilemma!  I can ride it, but only just. The 36/25 combination means I have to pump whilst sat down to keep traction, but running seems an even worse option. When I clear the climb I have to recover on the following fast section, and I should be hammering it here. That's clearly evident as Kevin is off on the horizon and Miles goes past. That said old rivals are well behind me. I press on recovering slightly, at least I can ride the course, that isn't a problem.
Hiding the suffering, but not the weight
But by the second lap I have nothing after the hurdle climb. I start to feel dizzy and my steering goes to pot. I handle the technical drop well and ride the long climb to restore some pride, but I have no race in me. I'm feeling hot as well and I have no Vet/50's near me. I feel isolated, tired and heavy.
I complete the second lap, and feeling bad and thinking I'm sitting last I abandon.
Not been here before, well in cross. I go to the timing tent and hand in my number. What happens next floors me. I see my old rivals pass by. My numbers off and I was well ahead of them.  I'm mortified I've just mistaken doing good old fashioned hard racing for feeling unwell still. It would later transpire that I'd almost certainly have come in behind Miles and Kevin in a 1/2/3 down the results.
I sling on warm clothes and watch my team mates slog it out, by the time I'm barrier side the bell is ringing and I know I should have still been out there. It's horrible standing to one side when the race is over.

Next it's the final round at Letchworth. A few pounds have come off and the saddle is lower again. And there are no plans to change routine race day again.  The only pressure on me is to finish as I've missed so many races and I need this one to get a standing.
The 2014/15 season has been a far cry from the 2013/14 season. A far better field, and I hadn't raced the summer as in all previous years. It'll be interesting to see how the last race pans out. I know one thing .....I vow to do better next year.