Tuesday, 17 January 2012

First timer

Sunday just gone saw my first outing at a National Trophy Series cross race - I had planned to some earlier in the season but never felt I was really up to it.  So as Shrewsbury was the final round of the series I had decided to take the plunge.

Arrived on my own around 9am, in freezing temperatures and clear skys.  The leisure centre car park was strangely quiet compared to last time I was there in early December, it didn't stay like that long.  It was soon fulling up with camper vans, mobile homes, and plenty of bikes.

A quick reccy of the course and it was pretty hard all the way round, nicely frozen off-cambre sections and rutted woody paths - this too was set to change, but I didn't think it was going to change as much as it did.

The race went ok, gridded on the back row in a field of about 45 forty something Vets category riders, I wasn't expecting much.  Up the first bank and I had someone trying to lie down on top of me, but managed to shrug them off and to follow a few wheels out to the fields, passing a couple of riders on the way.  The the race progressed the woody section became muddier and muddier, and my selection of Grifos was definitely not the right one.  By the last lap it was like riding on slicks, with mud clogging up the tread and the wheels sliding around all over the place.  A concerted effort to keep focused meant I stayed on two wheels when I wanted, and two feet when I wanted to run.  Needless to say I lost a bit to the folks who had better traction in the last couple of laps, and those who have the luxury of spare bikes so I was pleased to see the results...30th and collecting a point put me on the National Trophy tables, albeit 59th, 3rd from bottom!

I enjoyed the race, and am now looking forward to the last two races of the WMCCL series at Wolverhamptona and Baggeridge.

(courtesy of British Cycling)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Jack's Back

This morning Jack Frost was back and is expected to be make return visits over the next few nights.  It is only to be expected that in mid January thick frosts will cover cars and gardens on the majority of dark mornings, but this Winter has been somewhat different.  With temperatures set to plummet to below freezing the the ground at Shrewsbury on Sunday may well be quite firm, and maybe similar to the last time I was there in early December.  It will all depend on how quickly the Sun comes out and softens the mud before the race.

Once again it seems like I will be back on my own with no support crew assistance, nor racing buddies.  The main focus of this race will be to get in the zone and make it a good, worthwhile, training session - getting me ready for the last 2 races in the league.  I'm not expecting much as this is the first time at a National Trophy race, which will attract the top Vet 'crossers in the country! 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Something new

This weekend will see me try something new.  I have entered my first National Trophy CX race at Shrewsbury.  This is the last race of a 6 race, season long, series.  I've thought about competing in the National Trophy races before but never quite felt I'd been up to it, so as I have raced the course at Shrewsbury a couple of times I thought it would be a good one to try.  I'm sure there will be plenty of folks showing of there new National Champs jerseys, and going full-on for series points but I'm going for the experience and to fill the hole in the calendar until the last two WMCCL races.

Expecting more mouth gaping, eye-popping efforts at Shrewsbury...


Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Dawning of a New Era ?

I had said to a mate that I had been riding most of the WMCCL races "for pleasure" and would start more serious racing in the New Year, at the Just Ride New Year's Day Scramble.  So with that in mind I didn't drink too much on New Year's Eve but didn't manage to get to bed before 1am either.  

Lining up for the start at Top Barn on the third row of the Juniors and Vet 40+ phase of the J/V/W race, I wasn't too sure how things would pan out.  I had ear marked this race as I was hoping that most people wouldn't be foolish enough to go racing on New Year's Day - think again.  With a combined field of 120+ there was a very decent turn out and a reasonable crowd with more folks here that new me than at possibly any of my previous races!

The course is fast and not too technical, with no single track sections, giving plenty of opportunity for overtaking and getting in the groove.  Even though there had been rain for most of the preceding week the mud wasn't too deep and slick.  After a reasonable start and moving up on the opening start section I went thru the finish for the first time in about 13th place.  I managed to move up and follow some of the faster guys, like Steve Knight, for a while and had a feeling I was doing ok.  Going into the final lap I was just trying to hang in there and didn't really think I was going to catch the guy in front, so I may have lost focus a little towards the end when I was caught from behind with less than half a lap left.  Going into the barriers for the final time I was on his wheel and was ready to stay there until the last corner, but there was just too much traffic thru the barriers and I made a bit of a hash of the dismount losing a couple of seconds.  By the finish I was only one second behind him and five behind the next guy - wow what a race!  

When the results came out later that evening I had come in 10th overall, 7th Vet 40-49, and 2nd V45+ !!!

Now all I need to do is keep this focus for the last 2 league rounds and just have a go and enjoy the National trophy round at Shrewsbury.