Having had a frantic time in the sharp end world of road racing I took a winter break and headed for the world of cyclo cross.
I had a great time. I experienced almost six months of full-on, mud-infested two-wheeled fun.
There were highs - like from the top of the climb at Stanmer Park.
There were lows - like the ditch I kept falling into at Penshurst.
We had lovely warm weather - like at Hainault Country Park.
We had quasi Siberian conditions - like at Herne Hill.
There was craziness - like the slippery descents at Wilmington.
There was serenity - like the non-technical course at Dunsfold.
We had laughs - like when George ran across the course, leaping over taping to pick up his mountain bike after a mechanical failure.
We had pains - like when Giles somersaulted over the handlebars at Wilmington.
There was camaraderie - like when Nicola, riding ahead of me in the race, pointed out hazards at Reed Court Farm when I hadn't recce'd the course.
There was rivalry - like when Sarah, Abi and Nicola constantly swapped places in a 3-way battle at Temple School.
We had disappointment - like when Helen either crashed out or had mechanicals which took her out of the races at Dunton, Herne Hill, Lydden Hill.....and others.
We had elation - like when Claire won the women's league in her debut season.
It was tough, it was fast, it was frustrating, it was fun, it was muddy, it was exciting, it was scary, it was exhilarating, it was emotional, it was cyclo cross.
Top and bottom photos by londoncyclesport.com
middle photo by Julene Knox http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinknox