Monday, 12 October 2015

Central CXL Round 1 RAF Halton

That's entertainment

So here we are at last, at the start of the long awaited cross season. And what a turn out. Central CX League has grown both in quantity and quality, and LBRCC was in keeping with that upsurge. Thirteen LBRCC members have arrived at today's venue. Probably because this was the opener and that it had rave reviews last year. The course at RAF Halton was is a peach, and sort of has that feeling that her Majesties forces have had a hand in it's build and up keeping.
So who was there? Emma, Steve and Steve Judd in novices. Jules, Andrew, Fraser and Colin in Vet 40. Darren, Kevin, Miles and myself in Vet 50. And finally Neil, Ross and Mitchell in seniors. Present and correct and racing in that order.
Until the point Miles and myself arrived I had been feeling ner vous. However seeing so many friendly faces put me at ease. I sign on and spend and age chatting with old friends, guys I go head to head with for forty minutes, cutting and barging each other only to shake hands with afterwards. It makes me a little late until I realise my start is later than I think, new start times you see.
Miles and me pin on numbers and go for a warm up. Realising we have a while to go, we set off to watch the vet 40's racing. The guys are looking good. Jules leads, Andrew is next and Colin follows as third LBRCC rider. Fraser has had a start line issue, though at the time I thought he was living up to his own motto 'business at the front, party at the back' a mullet reference. The guys finish in that order, though Andrew hadn't been gridded as he should have, don't think he was too pleased.

We're off next, so here's my version of events. Gridding goes well as I get called up early. The other guys are called up soon after. I look over my shoulder only to see them all grinning right behind me, the course is wide so they've ended up right on my wheel. The commissaire doesn't bugger about and we soon get a fifteen second call, on the whistle we'll be off.
It goes and we're off. I get a quick clip in and get away fast, handy here as it's right hander, left hander, left hander and singletrack bang bang bang bang. It's up to the other to catch me now, still that's some pressure with forty minutes to go. A rider from behind hits my wheel and then my leg, but it's him that goes down and I hold firm, bit like riding in Belgium.
For now I concentrate on making ground, and I won't have a clue how the others are going until we complete a lap and I can judge the gap on the switchbacks.
The course is a piece of cake in these conditions. Okay a few exceptions like the deep gravel drive up to the mess, and the blast trench, a technical drop in and out that only requires you not to fall off.
One good clean lap in and it's only Kevin that I see behind me.
And so it goes. Another lap and Kevin is roughly at the same spot when we hit the switchbacks. I'm a little pressured, but then it's him that will have to do the catching up and then pass, but I have a plan already for that scenario.
Now what sounds like something from my dreams turns into a short nightmare. I find myself in the company of two fast women. They hoon past on the straight, but slow me on the turns and dips, acutely aware of Kevins mountainbike skills I expect him on my tail at any moment. Thankfully once shown the open track the two ladies are off, they're F1 and I'm smoky diesel.
He isn't upon me, in fact he's dropped back. Feeling slightly....okay, I decide to bury it on the next lap. High lines on the off cambers, in the drops in the fields, out of the saddle through the mud and dig hard on the gravel.
The bell and finish line is soon after the exit from the woods so when the bell sounds I have to wait to get to the first switchback to see if the hard work has paid off. I conclude it has. I push on realising that even if I finish a minute or more ahead it's placings that count, so I lock in on two riders to put between the two of us. Nice to fill the the gap with two Team MK riders. I get the flag, and pull over to wave the guys in. Kevin arrives, Darren follows and Mile concludes the proceedings with what looks like a XC foot race!
It's a good showing so far.
Next up are seniors. Neil, Ross and race virgin Mitchell. These guys race for twenty minutes more than us, but I couldn't give a toss I raced the hour for years, now it's their turn.
From the off Neil is away and away by a country mile, and on Colins new bike.  Ross and Mitchell are neck and neck, then Mitchell seems to get away lap by lap.
Trouble on the terraces 

The course doesn't have the terrain to suit Ross's strong points, and he struggles with his mojo. Neil is still away and carefree in the technicals. It's easy to tell he's done harder stuff during his time riding fat tyres. Mitchell has that air of a newbie that hasn't raced long enough to know what can go wrong.
And the technical's suit him. The race finishes as it had started, Neil grabs honours with Mitchell second and Ross third.

Overall a good turnout from LBRCC. Next week Steve Judd is stepping up to vet 50. And Ross I expect will be after revenge. It should be good. Andrew will have to get over his gridding cock up, it happens now and then sadly. The guys will have me in their sights, but I'll be on my home ground. Bring it on.

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