Brighouse Cyclocross Race

Bradley Wood CX Oct 09 095

pic: Tim Kershaw

The original plan involved me riding over the Lancs/Yorks border, through the Calder Valley and to Brighouse for the ‘cross race, however this wasn’t going to work due to Rachael’s karate lesson. So we drove over, I would then race then ride back. I was really looking forward to the ride home – I’d got the route clear in my mind after I drove home the same way from Huddersfield last week – it included some ace roads, through villages with ace names (like Barkisland) and some big climbs such as Blackstone Edge. I wasn’t really looking forward to the race though, not sure why. Probably the horrendous feeling of nausea I experienced at the Boggart Hole Clough race a couple of weeks ago was pecking my head a bit.

Once we arrived I bumped into Chipps with his Ibis uber-bike, Tim was there with his camera (hence the photo above) and Dave had also arrived, looking ‘full factory’ with 2 bikes 😉

After a rolling start the fun began. The course was dead good – mainly woodland singletrack, short steep ups and downs, slippery off-camber bends, a gravel trap, a flight of wooden steps and plenty of roots to test one’s knowledge of correct tyre pressures…

What followed was an hour of sweat, pain, snot, stupidly high heart rates and the taste of blood in the throat. A bit like interval training but with just one really long interval. I came to grief once, right in front of Deb, Michael and the kids, slamming to the ground with a complete lack of grace and grip on a bend that was threatening me from the start – each lap I was getting more and more confident and as such the inevitable encounter with the ground got closer and closer – the crash resulted in a load of mud up the side of my leg and a bent-inwards brake lever so I had to ride the remainder of the race with a wonky hand.

It was a least lap 5 before I was lapped I think, although that might be wrong. No idea how badly I did because the results aren’t out yet but I don’t care about that really. If I can do a few of these and get better at them that’s great, but it’s good just to do something so intense that it’s hopefully going to improve my ‘top end’ in the long-term.

After the race I had a quick cuppa, a quick natter, a quick change of jersey, put some lights on the bike and set off for home. The route eventually climbed Blackstone Edge, down towards Rochdale and then home a couple of hours after I’d set off. I didn’t need the lights until the last few miles but by then my front brake was completely useless, which made negotiating the roundabouts in Middleton very intereresting.

At the moment the next cyclocross race in my diary is a month away (followed by another one the day after!), but in contrast to this morning’s state of mind I’m actually already looking forward to it….

Ragley Rodwell – kind of a review


30 miles on the Rodwell yesterday – one of my regular routes, climb up the hill through Radcliffe, Affetside to Crowthorn then up the track past the Maggot Farm, through the military firing range to Holcombe Hill then down to Ramsbottom. Then blast along the road back home, late as usual.


It’s the first proper ride on the Rodwell since the 3 Peaks. During that race I didn’t really have the time to think about how good (or bad) the bike rides, how it felt on my shoulder, what it looked like…I just had to give it a thrashing. It was good then that a few things occurred to me yesterday at various points during the ride.

First of all, it feels very light. My Planet X has got disc brakes and MTB hubs, so there’s a weight penalty there. The Rodwell is at least a couple of pounds lighter than the Planet X and that becomes obvious when climbing and also when shouldering the bike. The Froggleg brakes are nowhere near as good as the Avid discs, especially when they’re wet, but I can (just about) cope with that.

The shape of the top tube is extremely shoulder-friendly. I’ve got an old shoulder injury after a car accident several years ago so if something carried on it isn’t comfortable I get punished. I can carry this bike on my shoulder for hours I reckon – the flat and wider shape of the top tube, near to the junction of the down tube is really well thought-out.

The horizontal top tube makes it easier to get on your shoulder quickly whilst moving. I wasn’t expecting a horizontal top tube to make much difference, but it does. It’s definitely easier to get on the shoulder whilst running towards an obstacle and I have to assume it’s because there’s more room to do so.

It’s comfortable to ride – apparently alloy frames are supposed to be harsh and unforgiving… this one isn’t. Perhaps that’s more a combination of tyres/wheels as well as the compliance of the frame, but there’s none of the smashing over rocks and bad roads that I had with the PX.


Next weekend I’m going to have a go at racing on this bike again, hopefully not ill this time.

it always seems like a good idea at the time….

At the beginning of September, my racing calendar became quite congested. At times I seemed to be unpacking and recovering from one race then immediately having to get ready for the next. This was without enough time to actually train for each one as when I was able to train hard, I should have been tapering so that I wasn’t screwed up on the start line…and so on. The Isle of Man, The 3 Peaks then Dusk til Dawn left me feeling quite uncharacteristically battered and only this week have I finally started to get back on top of things training-wise.

I’m now happily building, focussing and preparing for the Strathpuffer with no intention of doing any big races in between now and then. I know other ‘Puffer competitors are too so motivation isn’t in short supply either 😉

The relatively relaxed approach with some good solid training might have me back in the condition I was in earlier in the year, plus into the bargain I get to have a lot of fun riding bikes – big rides, short rides, turbo sufferfests (ok, that’s not fun), regular cyclocross racing and an utterly awesome Daft Ride with Dave.

In future I’ll be more careful with the schedule. September, whilst I raced a lot, left me less fit than I was. I can feel that lack of fitness (and a bit of extra weight) right now but gradually I’m clawing it back…

my new old thing

This week I’ve properly discovered riding my bike to work.

Yes, riding to work. How long have I been riding bikes? Seems I always drive (because I have to visit a client or something) or I walk, it’s only a mile and a half after all.

If I ride, it takes 10 bloody minutes!!!! The best thing is,  I don’t end up wanting to kill people like I do if I drive.

Down the road, turn right at the tip, along the cycle path through the woods, done. Work. Big sprint home again. Yeh.

Can you still get bicycle clips?