Another week another Cross race..
As predicted this one did not dissapoint.. with no National Trophy race on and this event being a category A race so big points on offer the field was strong.
Dave (Ramsay) again was kind enough to support and this time friends Rich and Rob were racing too to sample the pain that is cross.
Pulling into the sports centre car park the Hope motorhome and Scott van gave a hint as to the quality of riders that were there.. the first rider we saw was Nick Craig.. a hard day was on the cards for sure.
The course was longer than the previous weeks but definately a more traditional cross feel to it.. alot of muddy grass with off camber stuff and necessary boards to dismount and jump.. not only that but the race was the full hour plus a lap.. a mere ten minutes more than I have been racing.
After the cold start to the day a few laps and I was down to short sleeves... first mistake of the day was leaving my waterbottle in the car so no mid race drinking for me:(
The start was gridded so there was already 2 lines of very fast riders in front of me before the usual scrabble for position... as the race started the rider in front of me managed to snap his chain on the first big push of the pedals meaning I was a little held up before I could start battling for position in the long sprint down the length of the main field before we dived onto the course.
The field was quite deep at around 90 riders... the first lap as always was a mess of ducking in and out of riders and fallers and making my way up the field... as the course looped around it was possible to see the lead riders come through after completing a short loop I was about to enter.. Paul Oldham (Hope Factory Team) had already after half a lap opened a sizeable gap.
The first lap saw a rider 4 or 5 places ahead of me slide out and putting down a hand promptly broke his wrist.. or I assume by the screaming that was the least he had done :(
This race was super tough.. as well as the wheel sucking grassy muddy sections there was towards the back of the course a horrendous headwind that made pedalling even downhill a big drain..
As always I was stuck in battle with a few riders and we swapped places as the race went on.. some riders were easier to drop than others... I saw Rich as he was riding in the opposite direction and he looked like he was enjoying himself as we exchanged encouragement.
Cyclocross is still very new to me so I am still getting to grips with bike set up and I was struggling on the off camber sections as my tyre pressure was way too high.. I had to pick a very careful line though these sections... I am getting better at handling the bike but I still have alot to learn.
The race unfortunately had lap boards so unlike usual I couldnt just bury myself till the last lap bell I actually new how many laps I had to ride.. with 2 laps to go I started to feel the pangs of hunger.. no energy drink and no food available there was no option to play a little safe and although I had was currently ahead of the 2 riders I had been battling with I had to leave it till the last straights before giving it all to secure the place.
I ended up with 20th .. the field was strong but I was still a little dissapointed.. I now realise the importance even in these short races of drinking and a gel before start.. bike set up needs to be spot on and my starting and handling needs alot of work.
I'm keen to progress in this discipline so will be working hard at it :)