This weekend was meant to be a double header in the Scottish cyclocross calendar with two races in Glasgow, but because of a last minute change in requirements of the local council, Sunday's race had to be cancelled. The situation didn't go down too well with the racers since this was the second race to have been cancelled at late notice in this series.
However, disappointment aside, Saturday's race was quite an event!
Most of the UK has seen quite a bit of snow over the last week, but central Scotland escaped the worst of it until Friday night. We woke up to a few light centimetres of white stuff on Saturday morning.
We've had plenty of very cold cross races in Scotland, but no snowy ones that anyone could remember. Saturday saw cold and snow.
Since I was helping out with lap counting for the first few races, I didn't have to strip off to my cycling kit until just before my race, which was a good job...it was freezing!
I eventually had to shed my puffy and several base layers, just before my race to fit in a quick practice lap. Well, actually, it wasn't so quick! I rode around with a few other riders and we all exchanged anxious glances as we got back to the start line. Although the temperature was below freezing, the sun had softened up the ground on sections of the course and created a sort of snowy-slushy mud which had the consistency of wallpaper paste.
Although the course had no real technical features, it proved to be a really challenging race. Frozen brakes turned the descents into icy/muddy skid fests and saw the course tape broken all over the places as riders careered through the tape at the corners and the bottom of descents. The slushy mud made the climbs feel like everything had gone into slow motion - I was pedalling for all I was worth, but was just inching forward through the brown, muddy snow. Then frozen gears meant that I (along with lots of other riders) had to finish the race in completely the wrong gear because I couldn't change gears any more! Mind you, running proved to be the easiest way to get round bits of the course anyhow.
I've never done a cross race where I've managed to do so few laps, but this was a toughie! There were lots of cold, broken people on the finish line, all asking the same question - "How did I manage to do so few laps?"
I quickly put back on all the layers I'd taken off to do the race and went back to lap counting - relieve not to have to be riding round the course any more, but wishing I could be somewhere much warmer.
By the time we eventually got home, I found that I'd managed to get frost nip on my left foot, so I was relieved not to have to go out and race again today. Instead I spent the day watching the snow fall outside....I'm not sure we'd have been able to get to the race today even if we had wanted to!
Since I'm commissaire at next weekend's race, the Scottish champs, I won't be racing again until the grand finale of the series on Mull at the start of December. I think I'll spend the next few weeks investigating those foot warming techniques Jenn mentioned earlier!