Typically, cyclocross leagues in December don't have many races, the organisers have a much needed and well earned rest before the Christmas break and new year push to the end of the season. The Central League is similar in that respect, with just two races. Which to be honest, I'm kind of pleased about. It's been a long old year of first road racing and then cyclocross.
Round 11 - Hillingdon
If you know, you know. Hillingdon was a shocker last year. I'd hazard a guess more people lost/snapped mechs than didn't, myself included. Not only was the mud bad, but the course went over freshly cut bushes and plants, meaning you end up carrying a bike a half a thatched cottage roof around on your lap. Truly painful.
This year however it was dry, it was sunny, and although a little bit of mud, the bikes didn't even need cleaning after the race (a true win) I've been getting better and better at starts, and this week was no exception, still not quite upto James Norris levels of self propulsion, but never the less better. First lap and I settled into things around 7th, picking a few riders off over the next few laps till I was 4th, and closing down on Graham Knight, over the next few laps I got close, but Graham clearly found something extra and managed to pull away again on the final two laps. Nothing much else really happened to be honest, no other battles, no close calls and no snapped mechs. I push right until the end, because you just never know and crossed the line 3rd. I had thought I was 4th fr the whole race but 2nd place had punctured and pulled out. Happy days (sorry) another podium, and night and day to last year here!
Round 12 - Berkhamstead
The week leading upto round 12 Lovello (the organising club) and the Central League had been doing a lot tweets/FB posts about a bridge, and other general festive fun. Well, they were right, there was indeed a huge bloody bridge on the course, made out of scaffolding and two way, and to be honest, pretty bloody steep...
It was also wet, cold and generally not nice. However the course (inc the bridge) was fun, a sandpit, some hill reps, some singletrack. It had it all, and had it have been dry (i know) it would have been very fast indeed.
I know i've been saying my starts have been getting better, well not today they weren't. 2nd row gridding for a start, but more importantly I missed the whistle, meaning that I, well, was engulfed at the start and into the first corner. Sitting now maybe 20th. Ow dear. I picked my way through the riders and over the course of the next few laps moved up to maybe top 10. I was starting to feel the burn, and seemed to be loosing time to some of the riders in front, not that it mattered, as the next minute I had a puncture. As with before I tried to ride it for a bit, but resigned myself to another half lap run. Thankfully this time I had my second bike, and was onto the Felt for the final few laps. I was pretty annoyed with myself, wasn't my fault I knew that, but couldn't help it. I pushed on for the next few laps just wanting to be done, had a few good battles along the way, picked up a few more places and crossed the line a slightly annoyed 13th.
As i've already done 8 races, it's now only the best 8 that count, so really need to find a few top 5 finishes over the next races to make an impact and keep my position in the league, which, for now, is 2nd...