Monday, 9 November 2015

Race Report: Central CX Rd 7 - Houghton Regis

Finally, my first gridded race, and front row next to Matt Jones (Winner) all thanks to the previous week where I came 4th. However despite this I actually didn't get a very good start, and perhaps need to work on this, as I must have lost at least 10 places coming into the first bend, the crash next to me didn't help, but still. 

It was clear from the few warm up laps that this would be quite an energy sapping course, couple this with all the grass and mud slowing the bike down I knew it was going to be tough. 

First lap in and I had managed to pass a few riders and was up into around 7th now. HR went from low 60s to about 180 in around 20 seconds, there is nothing quite like the first lap of a cross race.  Bike seemed to be handling well, and the lowered pressure on the Clement MXPs was working well, certainly felt better than in practice... Onto the 2nd lap and I pushed into 4th where I pulled away from 5th to create quite a gap which kept on growing, bar any mechanical I knew I could hold 4th and it was now a matter of reeling in 2nd and 3rd (no chance was I getting 1st...) I could see 2nd & 3rd battling it out ahead, and over the course of the next 3 laps I managed to get across, it dam near killed me, but I did it. I sat on their wheels, thankful for the rest for around 1/3 of a lap, and then made to move to try and drop them, this worked (for a bit) and I was now upto 2nd, but after a quick look around it became clear that 3rd and 4th were not going anywhere, I made a few attacking moves, but unfortunately nothing managed to stick (apart from the mud) We all exchanged places over the next few laps with nobody looking like the clear favorite. With 2 laps to go I was 4th rider, but starting to feel a bit, well, knackered. Damien was shouting from the side to keep it smooth and stay with them, I was trying... I stayed with them until the bell lap where they opened up a 5 second gap, I tried to get across, they were slowly pulling away. I knew that even if I managed to get across, after my earlier 3 lap solo attack, i'd have nothing in the sprint. I therefore crossed the line 4th, some 8 seconds behind 3rd and 2nd who battled it out in the sprint. To be honest, I was really pleased, in what was another tough field (both people and circuit) I actually really enjoyed the circuit, there was enough twisty sections and fast and flowing bits to make it enjoyable. The bike preformed well, a 1x9 setup was perfect, meaning that the chainline, except the rear mech of course, was mud free (kind of anyway), that said the frame did get a bit clogged up with grass and mud and that no doubt slowed me down, but then I guess that was the same with every other rider. 

It was great to be in a proper battle for a position, compared to just a solo cross TT which my last race was, tactics played a big part, and perhaps something I need to learn about a bit more. 

Thanks to the Central League for hosting another great event and get the results up so quickly! Thanks to Keith Perry for the photos. 

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