While I expect and I don't even mind a bit of mud in my running and cycle races I must admit that this year's mud was getting a little bit too challenging. With the rainfall of biblical proportions that we have been having it is just as well that the season has come to an end. I don't know if my bike could have taken any more!
It's a shame I didn't manage to end the season on a high. My last race took place last Sunday at Haywards Heath, Sussex. It was the team championships.
In recent years I have not been able to do this race as I was either on a birthday weekend away, or not even in living in the country, as was the case last year.
So I felt good about supporting the race, which was organised by local 'cross stalwart and all-round good guy Dougie Fox.
I didn't even have a team since my club, Dulwich Paragon had not managed to get anyone together. But Dougie put me in a composite outfit with some guys who I had not actually met before. In fact I didn't even meet them on the day. (Sorry guys.) I must also apologise to them as I did not finish the race. My competition ended within a few minutes of the start whistle going. I hope they had not been counting on me as one of their top 3 finishers.
Due to me stupidly forgetting all my credit cards up in Macclesfield that weekend I wasn't able to pick up the hire car I had reserved for my weekend in London, so I had to travel to the race by train. That was quite straightforward so I didn't mind too much, especially as it was sunny, if a little cold and windy.
Unfortunately my gears on my bike were not changing very well and things were clunking and jamming a bit too much. The last time that happened my bike got chain-suck and my race was over. Not being big on mechanicking I couldn't do anything about it at that moment, so hoped for the best. But these were all pipe dreams really. No sooner had the herd of bikers rounded the first corner than we were in 6 inches of clag! My bike was not liking it, neither were my feet!
I could hardly pedal, and I was worried that something was going to go. So I made an executive decision to quit before something broke completely and then I would have no way of getting back home!
It was a shame, as it looked a good race and it would have been good to catch up with folks I knew, including Paul who was down all the way from Finchley, and Luke the editor I write for at Cycling Active. Hopefully I'll see them soon.
The cyclo cross season seems to be starting earlier and earlier each year since they have started a summer cyclo cross league, so it'll only be a couple oif months before we are back cyclo cross racing again! Some might call it sacriledge!
I turned on my heel, trudged up through the trail back to the race HQ and then made my way home, braving the mini floods on the Sussex lanes.
Anyway, here are some photos (taken by the lovely Higg) to remind me of some of the good times I had over the cyclo cross season. Overall this was a fun season.
My races were in various places, so I didn't really get involved in any league battles. Some of my races were done on a mountain bike, which made it very tough going at the Yorkshire cross round in Beverley, and the Rapha Supercross round in Manchester. But it was just nice to be back doing a cyclo cross race after a couple of years' absence.
My favourite race of the season was the Northwest league round at Heaton Park, Manchester - simply because it was the first 'cross race I did on my return. The riders and the spectators were friendly, the weather was sunny and the course was kind to me!
Then things became more challenging, with my muddiest races being at the London League round in Penshurst, and the East Midlands round at the Bakewell Agricultural Showground.
My toughest race was easily the Nationals. It was pretty muddy too, but with just so many off-camber sections I spent a lot of the time off my bike! It was all good fun, though and I really appreciated the encouragement from the spectators, even if I couldn't show it during those embattled moments!
Funnily enough, my cycling club didn't award a women's cyclo cross trophy this year. They probably thought it wasn't worth it because none of the girls had raced.
|And they're off! London Rapha Supercross|
|The mud at Bakewell|
|Tackling the Philipsberg, Manchester Rapha Supercross|
|Whoops - loving the Bakewell sand|
|Enjoying the London Rapha Super Cross|
|That hill in South Park, Macclesfield!|
|Toughing it out at the Nationals|
|And the band played on!|