Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Cyclocross Diaries: January

Well there we go. It's over. The cyclocross season seems like quite a few months ago now doesn't it? So here is my diary on the final 3 rounds at the Central League.

Round 13 - Corby
It was raining, it was pretty cold, and it was bloody miles away (around 2 hours North) but I had to do it right? First thing you see from the carpark is a tasty off camber uphill section towards the pits, nobody was riding, it was instead a running and carrying your bike race. Cool. That said, I quite like these races, so was looking forward to getting going and surviving.
The start was pretty funny really. The whistle went, and we slowly moved off, in a sea of mud and rear wheel spin, I had a pretty bad start, loosing quite a few places, but once upto speed (eventually) I managed to pass quite a few. The field as always was quickly split, and I settled into chase mode at around 10th. If this was dry, it would have been very fast and great fun. Instead it was hilariously muddy and slippy. Just coming onto my second lap, having made a few more places I reach he section furthest away from the pits, crunch, my mech is in my wheel... Nothing for it but to run now. This was rather miserable, but thankfully I had a spare bike, so after loosing a few places I got my old Felt. 30c tyres meant I had more grip, and was riding quite well. I say that, but I hit the gravel section and crunch. ANOTHER snapped mech. FFS. Race over, having ridden around 5km. Guess that's cyclocross isn't it? Bloody stupid sport.

Round 14 - MK Bowl
Another round at MK bowl, it's a good venue, easy to get to and often quite a challenging course. As is often the case this course was slightly different to the others there. Perhaps more climbing/running this time, which I didn't really mind.
Given last week's race and the broken mechs I was on the mountain bike (2.3 conti mountain kings good cx tyres?) and having managed to bodge my Felt back together with an old 10 speed mech (I run 9 speed on that) and a bent chain, I wasn't feeling that confident...
I actually had quite a good start, the mud was, as is often the case here, pretty bad, but the mountain bike seemed to be coping well, and offered plenty of grip, but just not plenty of clearance thanks to the tyres... End of lap 1 I had an off, bent the bars and lost a place having previously been in around 6th... then the bloody chain got stuck between the frame and chainring! No amount of pulling would release it, so it was a run to the pits, and loosing a few more place. I felt like sacking the whole thing off at this point, couldn't be bothered, but I got on the Felt and push on, encouraged by Lucinda shouting at me, telling me not to quit. Long and short of it is I got around, the bike was running, well, awfully, gears hardly worked and the chain slipped. Managing 9th without another mechanical was quite an achievement!

Round 15 - Miserton
Talk about saving the best till last. This was an awesome venue, a technical but fast, and more importantly, fairly dry circuit on grass and in woods on singletrack. It was such good fun. Perhaps made even more fun by the fact I had the new 2017 Eastway Balun, it's had some significant changes over the 2016 model, lighter frame, thru axles, 1x SRAM Force and lighter Bontrager wheels. It rode like an absolute beauty.
After the tragic death of Charlie Craig there was a minutes silence on the grid. A touching tribute indeed, and well done to the BC comms  and organisers on this.
Another up hill start, pretty difficult, and yet again, didn't get a great start, maybe going into the first singletrack section 12th. It was pretty narrow, so difficult to overtake, but thankfully opening again on a hill, so made some progress there, and distanced myself from a few riders. The front group were gone, so I was chasing Graham Knight and a few others for top 6/7/8 places. I was gaining and generally feeling great and with 4 laps to go passed Graham and moved upto 6th. We had a good battle for a lap or 2 and then I managed to pull away. No sign of the guys in front so settled into trying to maintain 6th. Well, that didn't happen. A crash with 2 to go saw me lose time, and 6th to Graham. Not sure what happened but after that I couldn't put any power down, felt in quite a bit of pain. I just managed to hold of 8th, through gritted teeth, and finished 7th.

Final Standing
With your best 8 races counting for the overall league position I had managed to finish 5th Senior. The original goal was 3rd overall, but quickly learnt after a few races that the field had not only got better, but bigger as well. So yeah, 5th, i'll take that.
Full top 10 below:
1 Joe Peake CC London
2 Neil Ellison WDMBC/Specialized Ruislip
3 Jonathan Dennis Kibosh SMA
4 Gavin Howell Team Milton Keynes
5 Will Beresford London Phoenix CC
6 Graham Knight Equipe Velo
7 Joshua Jones
8 James Norris SD Racing Team
9 Leigh Smith Equipe Velo
10 Paul Elcock G.S. Henley
Huge thanks to Wiggle and Eastway for their support this season. Both Balun's have been amazing and I can't wait to continue riding them, and look forward to more developments for next season.
Thanks also to Keith Perry and all the organisers at Central CX. Such a great series of races and superbly organised.

Looking forward to 2017/18 already.
Thanks for reading.

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