‘Cross diary 3: I race. What can possibly go wrong?October 16, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Posted in cycling | 7 Comments
Tags: beginner, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing, rapha super cross, women
Sunday: We arrived in Huddersfield in time for Son no. 1 (6 years old, hereafter known as Primo) to race in the under 10s. There was Rapha Super Cross bling everywhere, and lots of juniors riding around in team kit looking terrifyingly pro. I took the boys to register; we got in the way, and didn’t know where to sign or what to write, but everybody was lovely anyway. Primo rode off with an impressive field including several kiddies on tiny bikes being pushed by their dads. Segundo (son no. 2) and I rang cowbells and screamed ourselves silly for him. Primo held his position well and was completely thrilled to have raced. ‘I wish they’d had 157 laps!’
Then it was time for me to get nervous. Partner gave my bike the once over and sent me on my way. I approached a very friendly veteran who pinned my number in the correct place for me, on condition that I did the same for him. A marshal pointed me in the right direction and I rode off to recce the course. The first obstacle I hit was a series of diagonal turns up and down a seemingly vertical bank, with hairpins at the bottom and top. No way could I ride that. I immediately felt like crying; I’m not going to be able to do this. But then I thought: sod it. I can just run the whole section. There was another vertical descent later on; I held my breath and took the brakes off and, miraculously, was fine. The course continued through some steep turns (= foot dabs) and then hit a zigzag ascent up the side of a hill. My cornering was definitely not up to it, and I was worried about dismounting going uphill. Solution: get off at the bottom and run the whole thing. Some singletrack through the woods and up and down the grass a few times (those blardy corners again) and that was basically it.
Time to line up. I found a place at the back and did a bit of last minute stretching. Cue cracks from the blokes next to me: Are you psyching us out? My body won’t even do that. They joked with another woman: You’ll be too hot, with that snood on. Her: It keeps me hair out me eyes. I can’t go fast with hair in me eyes. I looked to my right and saw Castle Hill lit up in the sunlight. What on earth was I doing?
We were off. I didn’t dare to mix it with the crowd and found a safer-feeling place at the back, with another woman on a mountain bike. I completed a lap and felt like I was going to die. Heard the commentator saying ‘Well, we’re about 15 minutes into this race,’ and thought, oh, God, that means another 2 laps at least. Help. I seriously considered getting off about 3 times during the next lap, but then found a weird rhythm, and kept going. Getting lapped all the time was worrying; I kept thinking I was going to bring someone down. But everyone was lovely: ‘Rider, on your right!’ ‘OK!’ ‘Thank you! Keep going!’. One guy even said ‘Nice brakes!’ as he went past. The worst sections were the bits up and down the bank, and the zigzag ascent. But even these were still fun, in some kind of worryingly masochistic way. At the top of one vicious run-up, I quipped ‘Where are all the dollars?’ which got a couple of laughs. People took photos of me grinning like a nut. Spectators shouted ‘Keep it up!’. My boys rang cowbells and shouted ‘Go on Mummy!’ So I did.
Partner thought it was funny that I didn’t even realise where the finish line was. I was so massively relieved when I realised I could stop. At that moment, I thought: I am never doing this again, ever. But on the way home, I was thinking: I need to work on those right-hand corners. And find some banks to ride up and down. And I need to get fitter. I thought I was fit, but I’m not. And those remounts… must find someone to help with the remounts. And next time we need to bring sandwiches, and energy drink…
Watch a short video of our efforts here.
NEW: Official video of the elite race, and a link to some images on the British Cycling site . Gives a really good idea of what the course was like.