I don’t do many cyclocross races and bloody hell, it doesn’t half show. It’s down to a combination of things, but mainly really busy Saturdays doing family stuff means that it’s not too often that I’m able to wipe out most of the day on a one hour race in a local park, but sometimes they’re on a Sunday…and quite often I can ‘do’ Sundays….
Photo: Martin Holden Photography
The North West League race last weekend at Leverhulme Park in Bolton was a bit muddy. Ok, it was incredibly muddy. This mud, mixed with the deep layer of recently-fallen leaves resulted in a tough old slog around the course and for those of us without a second bike ready and waiting in the pit area, it meant regular stops at the side of the tapes to remove large wads of compost from the ‘cosy’ parts of the bike. With each lap, my bike maintenance stops (where I would alternate between pulling mud from the bike with my hands and prodding it away with a twig) became more and more regular. The highlight of the penultimate lap was trying to get my chain back on an encrusted chainring while watching THE ENTIRE CYCLOCROSS POPULATION OF THE NORTH OF ENGLAND ride past.
That was ok really. I said hello to Phil and a few other friends as they all rode past and I contemplated completing the race on foot.
I didn’t, obviously. After what seemed like an eternity of chain faff, I got going again and muttered and grumbled my way to the finish. 70-something-th place. Plenty of room for improvement/two bike strategies/singlespeeding.
It wasn’t all bad. Here’s some Good Stuff:
- Tubular cyclocross tyres. I’d never ridden tubs in a race before, let alone a slippery, muddy race. Gawd I love em. Glued to my pair of Planet X carbon disc brake-ready wheels, I was able to ride every off-camber slippery slope and was left grinning from ear to ear every time I defied what I thought (in my clinchers and innertubes sensibilities) were the Accepted Rules Of Riding Bikes Up Steep Things-Physics. I’d glued them on properly as well, given they didn’t come unstuck, roll off and send me into a bush. Alan told me how to do it – watch this and learn.
- A race 10 minutes from my house. Ten minutes from my house!
- A bike that doesn’t try to kill me even when I spend an hour riding like a muppet. Ok, I crashed a couple of times but in the main the On-One Dirty Disco was as confidence-inspiring, stable and just all-round ACE in this race as it was in the 3 Peaks. I’ve no worries at all about doing REALLY big stuff on this bike. Watch this space…