Sunday 5th October
When I did this North west cyclo cross league event last year it was my first cyclo cross race since 2011, my first competitive event in the UK since returning from Milan, and my first race in the North-west.
As my cyclo cross bike was still in London I used the only bike available, my mountain bike. The race took place in Heaton Park, which was not difficult to get to on public transport. It was just a case of taking the train into Manchester Piccadilly and then cycling 5 miles across town to the north of the city. At the time I'd felt a little out of place being there - a woman rocking up for a 'cross race, seemingly the only person on a mountain bike, significantly lacking in fitness and out of practice riding on the rough stuff. "What the hell", I thought. Nobody knows me, so I don't mind if I make a tit of myself! It's just a bit of fun!
In the end, the race didn't go too badly. Since the course wasn't very technical I managed to get round ok. It was probably thanks to the series of hills, where I was able to use my acquired strength from climbing the Lombardy hills.
I say it didn't go too badly - but let's not get carried away. I didn't come last! I had to battled it out for 97th position out of a field of 110! Everything had been looking good for me getting 4th lady out of eight, but a mistake on an adverse camber meant I toppled myself over, wrapping the course tape around myself and the bike. The end result was that all the women overtook me as I slipped down to 7th place! Still, it gave a few people a bit of entertainment!
So this year, I turned up, wanting to close the circle. My faithful old mountain bike was replaced by my cross bike, I was a bit fitter than last year, especially as this was my fourth cyclo cross race of the season. Instead of racing in neutral kit, this time I raced in my newly purchased Manchester Wheelers jersey. Furthermore, I got involved in helping out at the race by being a runner for the judges (obviously not during my race!). All the cycling I did between the finish line and the event HQ doubled as a good warm-up for me.
It was a good day. I met more of my Wheelers club mates, the sun shone, and my race didn't go badly at all. I still didn't win, but I finished 8th woman out of eighteen and I even got some prize money in the vet women's category. It's nice when things come together.
Photo credit: http://www.whiteflyerphotography.com/