Sunday, 10 October 2010
Cross is back
Today was my first cross race of the season.
Although I've been riding my cross bike a lot over the past few weeks, trying to sharpen up my skills and remind my legs that they need to work a bit between now and Christmas, I knew it was going to be a tough 'un.
After the increase in rider numbers in the Scottish Cyclocross Series last year, we had to make the decision to split the races, so the women now race with the Juniors and Vets rather than one big race for all categories. We've got some pretty gnarly Vets racing at the moment, so the pace of our race isn't much less frenetic than the senior mens race. There were over 70 riders in our race, including 15 women, so it was going to be a busy race.
The race started a bit slower than expected because of the number of riders trying to get rolling, but I managed to squeeze my way past some of the juniors and vets who were gridded in front of us girls. Then everything came to a clattering halt...there was a big pile up of 7 or 8 riders with bikes and legs and arms everywhere. I had a momentary dilemma over whether to stop and help the riders who were down, but I had an unusual surge of red mist (which I very rarely get) and found myself stepping over frames and wheels and jumping back on my bike to get going again. I'm still not sure if I feel guilty about it or not.
The rest of the race was great! The pace was fast...much faster than the last cross race I did. I knew there were a couple of girls in front of me who had managed to get through the pile up at the start before I had made up my mind not to help (yes, I do feel guilty now) and I knew I'd really struggle to catch them, so I decided just to make sure I didn't drop any places.
The laps were long and really mixed...straight, fast, hardpacked sections to hammer along (bunnyhopping the speedbumps); rooty, slippery singletrack through the trees; long, draggy climbs which were tougher than they looked (but they did let me pick off a few riders and get slightly further up the field); the run up which was really more of a clamber up with bike over shoulder; then the fast and furious descents. All that and not a second to catch my breath.
It was great and it was great to see all the familiar faces again and all those grins at the finish line. It was also great to be racing cross again after taking last year off from cross racing...it's cold, it's muddy, it's wet and it's blinking tough, but I love it!
Unfortunately I'm going to miss the next three races in the series because Chris and I are off to the Singlespeed Worlds in New Zealand on Friday. I think the chance to ride some new trails somewhere completely different and having some adventures along the way might make up for missing a few cross races...maybe. I'll let you know.