‘Cross diary 18: I brick it at Brighouse

November 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Posted in cycling | 6 Comments
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After 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 Yorkshire CX was all about. She put on her waterproof and her fleece, and tights under her trousers in that sensible-mum way, and asked good, thoughtful questions in the car. (To Primo: Do you fall off like Mummy does? Primo: No! I NEVER fall off.)

For her benefit, we performed the traditional Yorkshire Points ritual of driving around the park looking for the right entrance: we could see the course tape through the trees, but we made three wrong turns and a circuit of Tesco’s car park before @spandelles spotted the little notice in 14-point saying ‘cyclocross parking’.

that way (i think)

Uncharacteristically, the first person we asked knew where the sign-on was. We trudged up to a Great British Bake Off-style marquee, where some jolly but indecisive chaps were discussing whether ladies paid £10 or £12. The atmosphere of genial vagueness continued as we tried to find the loo; general waving in the direction of the bowling club got us there eventually.

By now the rain had stopped, and @spandelles had the bikes off the car, so Primo and I rode round his course. It was mostly on the flat grass, with one little foray into the woods over a log. The under-8s had their own race again; Primo really gave it some this week, tearing round and overtaking a couple of people. His remount probably lost him about six places each lap, though; like mother, like son…

He got off his bike at the end and immediately wanted to sit down. We congratulated him on his pro effort, and I rode off to have a look at the course. Round the grassy zigzags… my cornering’s improved, so I look forward to these now. Over the log and up into the woods… and a long uphill, shouldering the bike. Oof. Then a flatter bit of muddy singletrack. I was just thinking I might put the bike down, when UP the path went again, at an even steeper angle. OK. Keep going. There’ll be a bit I can ride in a minute. Round a corner and… up again. Oh. Right. Soldier on. The path twisted up and up for another couple of minutes, always too steep to ride. A final impossibly steep KICK and onto a flatter bit. I fluffed the remount (of course) and rode off. Sticky singletrack through the woods, flat but very narrow. (Here I’m imagining all the people careering past me at speed, their handlebars a whisker from bringing me down.) We must be going down again soon… oh. No. You’re kidding. It was SHEER. I climbed off and slithered down the side of the embankment, my bike trying to escape my grasp. My shoes couldn’t grip and I fell over, sliding down the hill on my side for a few yards. Finally I was at the bottom. I got back on, shaking, and looked ahead. The course went straight back up into the woods again.

IMG_0263

So that was my decision made. I pulled the tape up and rode across the field, then stopped to phone @spandelles in frustrated tears. I felt terrible, but I knew it was beyond me. Tong had been hard and MTB-ish, but for me, this felt like it wouldn’t even be safe.

When I found the family, poor Primo was looking white as a sheet. He’d spent the last five minutes trying to throw up. A migraine, then. Poor love. The only thing to do is to get him home and into bed, and let him sleep it off. We gave in his race number and he got his reward sweeties, while the commissaires’ gazebo blew over into the 12-14 year olds as they charged past.

I rode my bike through the ford a few times, ostensibly to wash its wheels, but really because it was fun. The Women’s World Masters Downhill Mountain Bike Champion 1999 gave me a cheery grin. I misidentified a Hope rider as Paul Oldham (he was actually in London at the Ally Pally Super Cross), and had a nice chat with Jackie from Cycle Sport Pendle. We crammed everyone back into the car and I drove home, trying not to cry. My mum said she was happy I’d been sensible; @spandelles said Discretion Is The Better Part Of Valour. I told myself this was the ‘in training’ bit of being a Fearless Badass In Training™.

But I hated bailing. Hope I never have to do it again.

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6 Comments »

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  1. Not to worry! I remember a scary bit like the one in the picture on the Todmorden circuit they used for the Nationals back when I was a kid and the young Roger Hammond used to win everything. You had to be really careful and ask yourself why on earth did they put those trees there right in the middle of the route? 😉

    • Heh! The trees are there to break your slide, surely…

  2. […] not recommended on race day itself, but if you’re haunted by memories of last year’s Brighouse course, a bottle of Rioja and a couple of whisky chasers will help you get to sleep the night before you […]

  3. […] Brighouse: Arrange lovely, relaxing family day trip to somewhere at the other end of the country. […]

  4. […] all the way through. Lois sent me hers about giving up. Ditto. I wrote last year about DNSing through abject terror. We can’t be the only ones feeling like this. Why is it so rare to read about […]

  5. […] to Alexandra Palace. Having comprehensively failed to show her what ‘cross racing was like by weeping and DNSing at the last opportunity, I was keen to make […]


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