pic: Tim Kershaw
The original plan involved me riding over the Lancs/Yorks border, through the Calder Valley and to Brighouse for the ‘cross race, however this wasn’t going to work due to Rachael’s karate lesson. So we drove over, I would then race then ride back. I was really looking forward to the ride home – I’d got the route clear in my mind after I drove home the same way from Huddersfield last week – it included some ace roads, through villages with ace names (like Barkisland) and some big climbs such as Blackstone Edge. I wasn’t really looking forward to the race though, not sure why. Probably the horrendous feeling of nausea I experienced at the Boggart Hole Clough race a couple of weeks ago was pecking my head a bit.
Once we arrived I bumped into Chipps with his Ibis uber-bike, Tim was there with his camera (hence the photo above) and Dave had also arrived, looking ‘full factory’ with 2 bikes
After a rolling start the fun began. The course was dead good – mainly woodland singletrack, short steep ups and downs, slippery off-camber bends, a gravel trap, a flight of wooden steps and plenty of roots to test one’s knowledge of correct tyre pressures…
What followed was an hour of sweat, pain, snot, stupidly high heart rates and the taste of blood in the throat. A bit like interval training but with just one really long interval. I came to grief once, right in front of Deb, Michael and the kids, slamming to the ground with a complete lack of grace and grip on a bend that was threatening me from the start – each lap I was getting more and more confident and as such the inevitable encounter with the ground got closer and closer – the crash resulted in a load of mud up the side of my leg and a bent-inwards brake lever so I had to ride the remainder of the race with a wonky hand.
It was a least lap 5 before I was lapped I think, although that might be wrong. No idea how badly I did because the results aren’t out yet but I don’t care about that really. If I can do a few of these and get better at them that’s great, but it’s good just to do something so intense that it’s hopefully going to improve my ‘top end’ in the long-term.
After the race I had a quick cuppa, a quick natter, a quick change of jersey, put some lights on the bike and set off for home. The route eventually climbed Blackstone Edge, down towards Rochdale and then home a couple of hours after I’d set off. I didn’t need the lights until the last few miles but by then my front brake was completely useless, which made negotiating the roundabouts in Middleton very intereresting.
At the moment the next cyclocross race in my diary is a month away (followed by another one the day after!), but in contrast to this morning’s state of mind I’m actually already looking forward to it….