This looks a nice place to relax and enjoy the autumn sunshine on a Saturday afternoon - Markeaton Park, near Derby. Apparently there are pretty gardens, a boating late, a new, popular children's playground, donkey rides and even a craft village. Well, I didn't see any of that! I was too busy getting down (though not dirty) in Round 3 of the Notts and Derby Cyclo cross League within the park.
I didn't really notice any particular features since, as usual I arrived with perfect timing to allow me to just sign on, quickly don my kit, go to the loo and arrive on the start line a minute before the commissaire blew the start whistle!
The lack of rain is great in that we are spared from loads of mud, and more importantly we get to ride our bikes for more time than we spend cleaning them! However, when it is this dry it's such a bone-shaker ride. My tyres were pumped up quite high, so the going was even harder.
The great thing about the Notts and Derby League is that the women's category has a good-sized field - bigger than the leagues in the Northwest, Yorkshire or London. In this race there were 23 women. Apparently in the previous week's round there were 40! That is the order of number you get in a national level race. With fields of that size you can actually get involved in a proper duel with other riders. On this day I ended up in a 3-way fight with a woman from Team Empella and another girl from Matlock CC. Unfortunately for me I got a bit carried away and had a rather spectacular crash in the closing lap - typical! No bones broken, just a very grazed elbow from when I slid across the grass and a rather bruised ego since the crash occurred right in the open field where there was maximum viewing potential for the avid spectators!
Anyway, that aside, it was a fun race with a friendly atmosphere. I hope to be back doing one of those league races before long, and would recommend it to anyone starting out in cyclo cross.