So the cyclo cross season is over. Well, actually it didn’t properly get going for me. I was quite keen at the start, all pumped up and full of zeal at first. I did a few of the London League cyclo cross races, but it all went flat after early November.
A combination of cross country running and cyclo cross racing made for an angry cocktail and my legs did not appreciate it! By early November my calf muscles were groaning, by late November they were on strike!
Working conditions did not improve for them over the snowy December period. However, I managed to cut a deal in time to race the London Cyclo Cross Team Championships in February, and our women’s team even got silverware when we won for the third year running!
It was a nice way to end the season, but it's a shame that for the second year running wear and tear injuries scuppered my season. Maybe it's my old body's way of telling me to stop this frolicking and take up embroidery or something!
Anyway, a quick summary of my rather brief cyclo cross season:
My favourite race
The London Cyclo Cross Team Champs. It was horribly muddy and very sketchy, plus it rained the whole time. However it’s my favourite because our team won the ladies’ competition. This was in no small part helped by Delia who was first lady. That was our Godsend because Caroline, who got round ok was marked down as a dnf (did not finish)! My bike packed up, so I had to complete the last muddy lap on foot while wheeling my broken bike! Thankfully my result plus Delia's and Monica’s were still enough to get us the win.
The London Cyclo Cross Team Champs. There were some long uphill muddy sections that were like riding through thick custard. I couldn’t rest on the descents as the bike slid all over the place. The dry sections weren’t easier as they had switchbacks that were slippery. When my chain got jammed I had to run round the course with my bike, which was tough work.
Most Memorable race
Rollapaluza Muddy as Hell Halloween Cyclo cross. A great race to watch and to take part in. Racing in fancy dress, music, beer, loads of people – it’s the perfect recipe.
I still haven’t gotten used to racing in the dark, but it doesn’t matter – there’s still a great adrenaline buzz. The crowds that cheer you on as you ride through the beer tent and run over the hurdles is amazing. I was pretty rubbish at dismounting and remounting. My wig kept getting in the way so couldn’t see what I was doing! But what the hell, it just added to the entertainment value! The table top was good too and saw a few people clear it bmx style, which was a real crowd pleaser.
Hog Hill. It was a mud bath! It seems like the course at Redbridge Cycle Centre doesn’t drain at all! When it’s that muddy I get afraid to do a practice lap. I don’t like turning up at the start line in a muddy mess! At least wait for the whistle to go first before I get stuck in! Not only was the race muddy, the course had no continuity. It wasn’t flowing so you had to ride a bit and then get off your bike and run. Some sections were so muddy it was quicker to run than to ride!
Yes, lots! But they are more messy than painful. I had a spectacular one at Herne Hill Velodrome when I failed to see a solid wooden plank on the course, hit it at speed and went flying into the mud. Once I got disentangled from my bike I was ok. The damage to me was a dent in my leg that was the shape of my chainring, and losing a few placings on the rankings. There was no damage to my bike - which is always a relief since that works out more costly to fix than bruises!
Cyclo cross bike
Planet X Uncle John, sporting new Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels. Sadly, I probably did more miles on-road than off-road with it during the cyclo cross season!
Plans for next year
Hopefully to be able to do a full season and stay injury free. And who knows, I might even get lucky and get to the Yorkshire Dales for the Three Peaks Challenge!
So, that’s it. Cyclo Cross season is over until August. What to do now? Well, I guess going on the tarmac is a bit more preferable to twiddling my thumbs. Better dust down the road and track bikes……
Top two photos by Fred; Bottom photo by R. Marston