‘Cross diary 17: This is not just ‘cross… This is @RaphaSuperCross

October 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Posted in cycling | 11 Comments
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Avid readers will remember what a jolly time we had at last year’s Rapha Super Cross in Huddersfield. The cowbells! The frites! The commentary! The runups! The pain! So you’ll understand why I signed myself and Primo up for the Skipton round of the 2012 Super Cross series MONTHS ago.

I’d been looking forward to it with a mixture of fear (not sand again, please! Not those horrible zigzags up and down the banks!) and delight (EVERYONE was going to be there) ever since. The night before, I gave myself a proper pro-style CX manicure and got out all my best kit.

We rolled up to the refined surroundings of Broughton Hall in beautiful sunshine and got unpacked. Chirpy families assembled bikes and dug around in kitbags for snacks. Primo hopped onto his brand new CX bike and we rode off together to sign on, @spandelles and Segundo bringing up the rear on foot. The Rapha show was already under way, with the crêpe van and the face-painter doing a brisk trade, and @antmccrossan loosening the vocal cords with a rundown of the day’s racing. A couple of chaps, their jeans artlessly rolled up, pushed  fixies gingerly through the mud.

Primo rode up and down on the grass for a while, then lined up for the under-10s. He got quite a slow start but was picking his way through the bunch by the end, and was thrilled to hear his name called out over the tannoy as he crossed the line.

While the under-12s were racing, I went off to have a look at the course. Barriers! I immediately fluffed the remount; not a brilliant omen. The course wound up, across the soggy grass. And up, across the soggy grass. And through some muddier bits. And down a bit, and up, across the soggy grass. And then MAD DOWNHILL OFF-CAMBER MUD HOLY MOLY OH MY GAWD HELP. And then up, across the soggy grass. You get the idea. Mmm.

Worried, I jumped on and off a bit, then chatted to the lovely smiley chap who counts off the numbers at Yorkshire Cyclocross events. The boys worked their way unconcernedly through posh sausage sandwiches, while I tried to decide whether to keep my armwarmers on or not. I played ‘Where do I know you from?’ with a girl called Camilla (it was a draw; neither of us could remember), and ran into @makepiece by the loos, still in her civvies with twenty minutes to go. (‘What happened?!’ ‘Late.’)


I was awestruck to see @LittleSimo lining up at the front. That’s right: I raced with Annie Simpson. (This is where my grandchildren look up at me, wide-eyed, as I reminisce from my bath chair.) I tried to pick up a few places when we set off, but that was all the racing I managed, to be honest. Oh, it was HARD. I mean, it was REALLY hard. No little technical sections to ease the pain. No jumping off and running for a bit. Nowhere to catch your breath: when you weren’t grinding over the sog, you were gripping the bars for dear life, hoping you weren’t going to skitter across the ruts and bring down someone important. I’m sure the views were magnificent; sadly, all I saw was a self-replenishing two foot square of torn-up lawn as I hauled round, grimly, in bottom gear.

I really did want to give up, about sixteen times a lap. I couldn’t even raise a smile for the cameras. Things that stopped me climbing off in tears included @crossjunkie intoning ‘Go on…’ every time he lapped me, and a family with cowbells on the remotest section of the course, whose little son shouted ‘Keep going! You’re doing really well!’ whenever I went past. Near the end, I was creaking along dejectedly when a sludgy section finally forced me off. I cast a look at the back of my bike; my brakes were hidden in a cowpat-sized block of mud and leaves. Ah. I poked it out, got back on and steamed off, at least six times as fast.

@spandelles said I made up a lot of time on that last lap. Not enough to catch @amyling, sadly, but I finished, of which I’m inordinately proud*. I’m dimly aware that I missed loads of people I wanted to meet, including @PETERSYOUNG (who later tweeted that he’d recognised me by my brakes); happily, we caught up with @bex_love and @mattlovecycling and @melaniebbikes, who’d dug out her INBFC badge specially (I was touched).

We wanted to stay for the fun race, but I was driving, and the grass was starting to look very comfortable. The boys sang LET’S MAKE A CAKE! all the way home, to stop me drifting off. @spandelles cleaned my bike, and cooked my tea, and told me he was proud.

* DieBeforeDNF

(British Cycling report of the day here)


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  1. I spent ages rolling up those jeans! And there was me thinking they looked good :p
    A fixie wasn’t the ideal choice but I had to get from the station on something and it was either that or the lovely, clean, expensive road bike. I was quite impressed I made it all the way to the hall before I had to get off and walk.
    Oh, and well done, it looked like a seriously hard course!

    • Haha! Sorry… You looked lovely, really. Were you the chap with the flam green paintjob? Very smart!

      I did wonder whether the fixie riders (there were more than one of you) were going to race. As it was, I spent most of my time in bottom gear, so if I’d had no derailleur to get clogged up I might’ve gone a bit faster… And yes, I saw several people lifting their expensive roadies carefully over the sludge, so I don’t blame you for leaving yours at home.

      It *was* a ridiculously hard course, so thank you 🙂 and thanks for commenting – not many people do, and it always makes my day.

      • That wasn’t actually me, mine is reddy-pink with blue forks. I know at least one guy rode the mens’ race on a fixie and one on a singlespeed – madness!

  2. Enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing. Still sounds like fun, even though I know it’s crazy hard and painful. Never outgrew my mud pie phase, it seems.

    • Thanks Deb! It fit the pattern of most ‘cross: while you’re racing, you’re thinking ‘Why am I doing this to myself?’, then as soon as you stop, you think ‘Well! That was fun! Can’t wait for next week!’ And yeah, legit excuses to get nice and muddy are far and few between as an adult…

  3. […] the joys of Rapha Super Cross, we were RARING to go again. My mum was up for the weekend, and we were keen to show her what […]

  4. Ah, my old backyard and no sign of flooding. Great to see they do a ‘cross race there now. First time I ever drove a car it was in the fields there: an old untaxed Fiat 126. I got to about 30mph and the floor fell out.

    • Ha ha!! That’s about how I felt after the first lap.

  5. […] Rapha Super Cross, Skipton: pray fervently that they have changed the course. If not, remember to remove clods of mud from back brakes while toiling over soggy grass. Try not to fall asleep on ground before having chance to hobnob with lovely delightful twitter people. […]

  6. […] Super Cross. There’s something for everyone: face painting, frites, DJ, mud, terror. Remember the draggy, sloggy, uphill gunkfest from last year? There were a few scores to settle with Broughton Hall. I put my determined face on, and we loaded […]

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