‘Cross diary 34: @RaphaSuperCross. Take your mum

November 18, 2013 at 11:20 am | Posted in cycling | 8 Comments
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Entirely coincidentally (cough), we were visiting my Mum in North London when Rapha Super Cross came 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 amends.

The sun shone; the wind blew; the boys squabbled. Business as usual, then. Ally Pally was looking glorious in fashion-forward Autumn-Winter 2013-14 style. I got the boys signed on, then went for a ride round the course, immediately sliding over in the Spiral of Doooom™ (plus ça change, then). Good course: lots of charging around on the grass, bit of singletrack, out and up into the woods again, and repeat on the other side.


Brilliant .gif of the Spiral of Doooom, by Josephine Hartfiel (@Josi_Hartfiel). Click it if it won’t work.

Primo (8) had one of his legendary meltdowns halfway round his second lap: I’M NOT DOING IT. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME. I HATE CYCLOCROSS. Me: OK then! I carefully ignored him for a couple of minutes; he climbed back on sheepishly and rode off again. He finished the race grinning about his prizes (Hope bottle and quick-release keyring). I tried foolishly to turn this into a Learning Moment. Me: See, it was much better to finish, wasn’t it? Him (immediately grumpy again): NO. Meanwhile Segundo (5) was busy being my CX role model, soldiering on happily despite being unable to ride half the course.

Rapha Super Cross 2013 - Ally Pally-47

Marvellous Sights of That London

We milled around a bit, chatting to @Tiny_Pigeon and @TomStaniford, and looking in wonder at cyclists with BEARDS (rare sight in W Yorks). @iancleverly came over to say hello. @nik_tweet announced her arrival by smacking me hard on the arse as she rode past. I threw all my kit at @spandelles and went to line up. The women were in with the vets AND the juniors this time; they set us off in three groups, with the women going last. A commissaire called out names and women took their places, including the girl I’d just been chatting to; realising I knew her from twitter, I shouted ‘Ooh hallo @fentinator!’ There was no time to ponder how daft this sounded as my name was next. Yes, dear reader, for the first and very possibly the last time in my cyclocross career, I got GRIDDED. I actually got GRIDDED. I looked over to see @spandelles laughing his socks off. It didn’t matter.

I got an uncharacteristically good start and held my place in the middle of the group for ooh, half a lap, which felt very exciting (normally I’m shelled in the first few metres). While I was the only person who foot-dabbed in the middle of the Spiral of Dooooom, I didn’t fall off (as at least one other person did). Got a bit of a shock coming round one corner to find BARRIERS had suddenly appeared, but, unfazed, I managed to get off and back on again without drawing too much attention to myself. I charged into the woods excitedly and slithered around on one corner; the girl behind me said ‘Well recovered!’*

Rapha Ally Pally 2013

Get me, looking all PRO and not falling off or owt

Quite a few people burnt me up on the long hill, but cowbells were ringing and spectators were shouting REMEMBER, YOU LOVE THIS! IT’S WHY YOU DO IT! and COME ON THE WOMEN! and so I had to, really, didn’t I. I got overtaken loads (including by @fentinator, who said ‘Hallo!’ cheerily as she lapped me) but I managed to reel one woman back in over about a lap and a half and finally finished ahead of her. Result!

The rest of the day passed in a happy blur of eating crêpes, riding around with the boys and shouting encouragement at the elites. My mum had a great time; I found her watching the seniors, literally jumping up and down going ‘This is really exciting! Is this on the telly, ever?’ We erred on the side of caution and skipped the fun race to go home; @spandelles cunningly avoided all post-race pit crew duties by going and getting on a train. My mum cooked the boys’ tea, and I washed all three bikes then fell asleep in front of Countryfile. A pretty good day, in anyone’s books.

* get me, with the SKILLZ


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  1. I love your blogs, they sound just like my experience of ‘cross. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it’s just a disaster…like this weekend in Ilkley!

    • Oh thank you! Yeah, it’s so unpredictable, isn’t it. Sorry you had a bad time at Ilkley – better luck for the next one!

  2. What does “gridded” mean? Thanks in advance for defining!

    • Oh, sorry! ‘Cross races are mass-start, so when there are lots of competitors the commissaires normally arrange for the faster riders to be in the front few rows. That’s called gridding. It allows them to get a good start rather than having to pick their way past slower riders, which can be difficult on narrow courses. 🙂

      • Thanks. Unfortunately/fortunately, we don’t have to use the “gridding” process due to the lack of women participating in Florida CX – yet. We once had 8 women in the Cat 1, 2, 3 start line (so small we combine cats)!

        • Yeah, that’s the way it is here, too. Most races I go to have around 10-12 women (all cats riding together, as in Florida) and that’s more than in a lot of other areas (Yorkshire seems to breed women ‘crossers!). The Rapha Super Cross attracted more women than usual and the start was quite narrow, so I think that’s why 🙂

  3. Mr SPANDELLES would like it to be known that he is normally happy to wash and prep the bikes after racing;-) Sadly he had to abandon ship early to get back to his SATANIC MILL in the North.

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