Tags: 2013, bdipc, crushes, cycling, humour, martyn irvine, race, racing, snogging, track world championships
The first thing that made me laugh till I cried when I joined twitter was bangable dudes in procycling. Minx and her collaborators indelicately scrutinised the male peloton, staying just this side of NSFW and making fangirls choke on their cornflakes in the process. If you’ve never heard of BDIPC, I suggest you go and acquaint yourself with it before reading on; you could start with this fairly typical example.
Ready? OK. BDIPC’s very American in style (at least, to my English ears); I found myself wondering how an English version would sound. Then Martyn Irvine did his astonishing double-medal-winning feat at the Worlds in 2013, and I suddenly had a subject. I wrote this quickly, in a sweat, a year ago, and it made me laugh*. And after Martyn’s heroic efforts in the scratch and points races over the last couple of days, it seems relevant all over again.
Hello there, from across the pond! We English girls like a toothsome, athletic chap as much as anyone, so we’re enormous BDIPC fans. But all this upfront talk of bangability still has us a bit, er, gosh. Well. You know. We may be right up there in the top five Nations Who Like Falling Out Of Taxis At 3am Without Any Knickers On, but actually talking about, er, the, ah, you know, the ACT? Well. It has us groping for words.
And of course, well before we get to the, um, act, we have to make the unsuspecting boy aware of us. We’re not too good at striding up to people, locking eyes with them and suggesting, well, golly. How can we do that, when we’re too shy even to tell our best friends?
Picture me, long ago, skirt waistband rolled over as soon as I was out of sight of the house, school-illegal plastic sandals on my feet, gripped by a new, crippling crush on a sixth former. Best Mate is DESPERATE to know. ‘Who? WHO?’ ‘I can’t. He’ll see me looking at him.’ We cook up a subtle plan: as he saunters by, I’ll turn to her and utter a prearranged sentence. We roam the school corridors at breaktime, giggling. Finally he slouches into view, tall and wan, hair falling studiedly over his face. As we draw level, I ask her, casually, ‘How did your mother’s barbecue go last night?’ Best Mate whips round, looks the poor lad in the eye and exclaims, ‘HIM?!’
So, of course English girls swoon over pretty Euro cyclists, and we’re jolly keen on those Americans who look so delightful all covered in mud. But sometimes, we hanker for a fellow who knows where we’re coming from. Someone who’ll laugh at our jokes, get on with our brothers, and who might even be nervous and cack-handed, like us, when it comes to chatting to people they, er, oh, you know. People they LIKE. You’re making us blush, now.
Martyn Irvine’s storming performance at the Track World Championships, bringing him two medals in the space of an hour, dragged our attention right away from the crossword. Golly! There was a chap with GRIT. And an Irishman, too! Every English girl likes to imagine she’s got a bit of Celt in her. Transfixed, we watched him digging ever deeper, holding on longer than we dared hope, finding the reserves for that last, game-changing push, and finally bringing off the impossible. Our teacups wobbled in their saucers. There he stood, bathed in the post-race glow, pushing his flop of ginger hair back from his glistening brow, his diffident, delightful attitude matched perfectly by his gentle Northern Irish brogue. And as a nation, we leapt from the sofa, strewing pussycats and Hobnobs left and right, and declared, ‘HOW DID YOUR MOTHER’S BARBECUE GO LAST NIGHT?!’
* I offered it to Minx as a guest post but she declined**. I’m still utterly devastated by this.
** She did say it was ‘hilarious’, though. [wipes eyes] [blows nose]
Tags: beginner, biking, cycling, poll, race, racing, road
So, after going road race training and having a ball, I’ve entered my first ever road race. It’s in March. 2/3/4 cat women only. Fifty-seven of us so far. (I KNOW. 57!) Traffic-free circuit, mostly flat.
I tweeted about this last night; responses fell into two broadly opposing groups. Please improve the objectivitical scientificness of my research by answering the poll below, which summarises these two viewpoints. If you’d like to add any further points of view/ advice/ tips/ warnings/ jokes, please do, in the comments section. Merci!
Tags: beginner, biking, cdnw, cycling, cycling development north west, race, racing, road racing, skills, training, women
The fifth of January sounded perfectly reasonable when I signed up for a women-only road race skills session a couple of months ago. But Christmas came and went in a blur of port, crisps and Junior Monopoly, and suddenly I was getting up at improbable o’clock in the DARK on a freezing Sunday morning, struggling into sixteen layers of cycling kit and packing sandwiches, snacks, and any other warm clothing I could find into the car. I nearly left without my bidons as (in an uncharacteristic fit of organised-ness) I’d stashed them in the fridge the night before. Off to pick up @VicandLib and @1fishonabike. F-f-f-f-f-f-f.
It was good to be the designated driver, as otherwise I’m almost certain post-Christmas torpor would have set in and I’d have decided I didn’t want to go. I’m extremely happy this didn’t happen, as we had the most excellent time. Heather Bamforth had sent us a comprehensive set of instructions on what to bring (helmet, food, helmet, extra clothes, helmet, bike, don’t forget your helmet) and the structure of the day. We rolled up to see lots of young, athletic-looking chicks getting dropped off by their Dads, and resigned ourselves to representin’ the Old Crox wing [complicated handshake, followed by muttering about arthritis in fingers]. But when we got down on to the circuit, it was clear that the group were a happy mixture of ages, experience and fitness. In a few minutes, Huw Williams was trying to get thirty (thirty!) excitable women to calm down and listen.
Tameside is a purpose-built traffic-free circuit, about a kilometre long, with corners and little inclines and a bit of grass (should you overshoot a corner and find yourself doing some impromptu cyclocross). It’s great fun to zip around. We spent three hours practising all kinds of skills, with Huw, Hannah Walker (from Epic Cycles-Scott Contessa Womens Race Team), Carley Brierley and Heather offering their expert advice. Some highlights:
- Riding in little groups and changing position (front rider goes to the back and so on). Avid readers will remember I am incapable of riding on someone’s wheel without grumbling HELPHELPHELPHELPHELP the whole time. I was still doing this to start with, but gradually it got easier, and I learned to look up and through the rider in front, which is a lot less panic-inducing than staring at their back tyre. (It also means you see corners coming, which is useful.)
- Cornering. I was hoping I’d be all right at this, having spent the summer practising for ‘cross. YESSS! Can’t tell you how terrific it feels to be good at something, and to get complimented on it (thanks Carley).
- Riding around in a big group being paced by Carley at 15mph, then 18mph. This came near the end, and I was thrilled to find myself riding in a bunch at speed, spotting gaps, trying to pick through the crowd, within elbowing distance of everybody. Never thought I’d have the courage to do this, and it felt so utterly PRO I could hardly speak for excitement.
- Mini-races (about 15 mins long). Yup, you know it’s serious when I finally take off my zippy cyclocross warmup trousers. Overtaking people on corners! Being overtaken again on the straights (damn)! Shouting ON YOUR RIGHT! Still haven’t really got the working-with-people bit sorted out, but golly, this was fun.
We did a lot of other things, but these are the bits that stick in my head and make me grin to think of them. I made such a lot of progress in three hours. All the same, it was quite a relief to get into the relative warmth of the classroom. Freddie made us all a cuppa (life saver) and Huw did the Science Bit: what we need to know to improve our fitness and prepare for racing. There was LOADS to think about here, particularly as Carley and Heather were giving examples from their own experience of training, coaching and racing. Invaluable stuff, and plenty of lightbulb moments.
I came away keen to have a go. CDNW are organising several races just for 2/3/4 cat women this year, and Heather, with her irresistible enthusiasm, insisted we’re all capable of racing. One thing she said to the group sticks in my mind: ‘If YOU all show up to a race, you ARE the race.’ Of course. How simple. So come on, fellow hopeless people. Show up with me, and we’ll have a go together.
There are two more sessions: Rhyl on 19 Jan 2014 and Blackpool on 02 Feb 2014. They’re filling up fast, but if you’re interested, you can read about them and sign up here.
Pictures by very kind permission of Fred Bamforth.
A bit more about the coaches here:
Tags: biking, broughton hall, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing, rapha, rapha super cross, skipton, women
We like Rapha 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 up the car.
The forecast had been grim all week, but the rain mostly held off. Uncharacteristically, we only took one wrong turn before we found the venue. The boys leapt about excitedly singing the theme from Wallace and Gromit while we unpacked the car. I went off to ride the course (as usual, I had my backpack on; some wag asked me if I was planning a picnic) while @spandelles got the boys ready for their race.
They did well; Segundo (5) gave it some serious welly (‘I overtook someone!’) and Primo (8) rode up the banks like they weren’t there. They demolished enormous portions of frites while I tried to read Dutch and chatted to @melaniebbikes and @davewhite99 and queued for the loo and cooled down and generally did all the wrong things.
My turn. The vets went off first, then the women a couple of minutes later. @nik_tweet took a picture of me, grinning unconcernedly.
I chatted to @alisonkinloch, who was back racing for the first time since breaking her wrist (she eventually came third. THIRD. With a still-painful wrist. I could weep). I got a really bad start, choosing entirely the wrong gear and cleverly positioning myself on the outside of the first turn, and I gradually dropped back over the first lap. It basically just got worse from then on. The course was a lot more fun than last year: tarmac, and steep banks, and twisty bits, and woody bits, and barriers, and thick mud, and bridges. The Rapha chap gave me a highfive as I grumbled past. @antmccrossan called out my name over the tannoy. @bex_love and her kids rang cowbells and shouted for me. But all that couldn’t make up for the despondency of toiling round on my own, watching everyone get further and further away.
Soon, of course, I wasn’t on my own any more. The vets were coming. I’m a bit better at being lapped now (‘On your left!’ ‘OK!’), though @crossjunkie did give me a fright (he’s so STEALTH).It was getting hairy in the Spiral of Doom, with tight corners and deepening mud. The spectators were baying for blood, and they soon got it: I lost traction, slid over sideways and just heard ‘NO! YA F*CKER!’ as I landed on the ground with a bloke and his bike on top of me. Oh dear. He disentangled himself and sped off; I picked my bike up and was about to remount when someone yelled ‘SADDLE!’ Narrow escape…
So, that was it. I lifted the tape and tried not to cry in front of everyone. Chris Young offered to remove my saddle so I could complete the remaining ¾ of a lap without it. I declined (though I’ve regretted this since; I knew I couldn’t ride the whole thing standing up, but if it had occurred to me to run, I might have had a go). Chris tried to hide his disappointment at my lack of grit. Yorkshire hard men, eh.
Still. Broken saddles turn out to be up there with cute dogs in their knack of getting people to talk to you. I made a load of new friends wheeling my bike about. The chap who crashed into me came over and gruffly offered me a replacement (‘I’ve got loads of saddles.’). We introduced ourselves and made up.
We watched the elites racing, full of awe. Then I demonstrated my true cyclocross skill, which is as a spectator, screaming myself silly at the fun race. DON’T LET HIM GET PAST! CHANGE UP CHANGE UP! GIMME SOME RACEFACE! The sun came out as Wolf Man, Tinkerbell, the MTB tandemists and a motley crew of other hopefuls braced themselves for the wall of foam. It was a fitting end to a great day. And we’ve got Ally Pally next week to look forward to. I WILL FINISH. I will.
Tags: biking, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing, temple newsam, women, yorkshire points
Yup. I actually made it to the start line. No mechanicals, no illnesses, and no attacks of CBA. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Are you sitting comfortably?
In the traditional Yorkshire Points stylee, we drove around (stunning) Temple Newsam park for about fifteen minutes looking for the right car park. Someone followed us, in the vain hope we knew where we were going. It’s all part of the charm. The boys and I went to sign on; my name was under Vets 40-50, rather than Women (apparently my Here Come The Belgians membership has granted me Honorary Bloke status. Result!).
The kids’ field was so enormous that the under-8s, under-10s and under-12s all had separate races. Segundo (now 5 years old and racing for the second time ever) gave it some impressive welly, chewing the bars: ‘I overtook three people, but then I fell off in the woods and they all went past me again!’* Primo (8) rode most of the climbs (a New Thing for him), though his newly-perfected remount dissolved under pressure*. While @spandelles tried unsuccessfully to feed them sandwiches, I dodged off to do a recce lap. We didn’t race at Temple Newsam last year, but it’s a belter of a course; lots of singletrack, which was fun but not too horribly technical, plenty of tearing across the grass and up and down little banks, and even a horrible up-a-steep-bank-over-planks section. You BEASTS.
Time to line up. I got chatting to a tester called Jess (‘What kind of pedals have you got?’ ‘No idea.’). I promised Nikola Butler I’d try not to bring her down on the first corner. The field was massive; @amyling and I were worried about being overtaken on the singletrack, but the staggered start (40+ veterans set off first, then 50+ and women) and the initial lap round the field seemed to string everyone out enough that it was never really a problem.
Anyway. You should have seen me. I zoomed over the singletrack! I cornered like a pro! I rode up all the steep little banks! (apart from one, where I fell off into a bunch of nettles, nearly taking @Chipps down with me). I lost loads of places every time we went over the planks, ‘cos I can’t dismount on the right hand side of the bike, but hey.
My remounts were ALL functional, even the ones where I only had a couple of seconds to get back on! I overtook a few people! I stayed out of the way of nearly everyone who lapped me! (apart from a chap who wanted me to ride over loads of tree roots while he took the smooth line; we bumped each other amiably and both stayed upright). A woman behind me shouted GET OFF YOUR BRAKES! encouragingly as we went down a steep hill; she overtook me at breakneck speed and came off spectacularly on the next corner. (She lapped me after a while, and had the decency to promise not to fall over in front of me any more as she went past.)
It was hard. Ooh. But it was GOOD. In typical fashion, I started getting the hang of it about three quarters of the way through. Crucially, it also felt PROPER. While I wasn’t giving Annie Simpson anything to worry about, I also didn’t feel like I was just making up the numbers any more. I was Trying Hard**, and doing a good job. As good as I could, anyhow.
Afterwards, I chatted to some of my new HCtB teammies, and rode around with the boiz on the grass in the blazing sunshine. I fell off trying to trackstand, and again trying to ride no-hands. We had some sandwiches, and an ice cream. It was too lovely for words. And when the results came in later, I was ecstatic to see I’d beaten some ACTUAL REAL LIVE PEOPLE. Days don’t come much better than this.
* Like mother, like son…
** I put my Garmin on for the first time in a race, mostly to check that I was really working as hard as I thought. It’s quite funny: my HR is basically a flat line across the whole race, at 92-95% of my (notional) maximum. So, yeah. I am Trying Hard All The Time.
Tags: beginner, biking, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, race, racing
So. This summer I’ve been Trying A Bit Harder, riding a (little) bit further and getting ever-so-slightly faster (downhill, at least). I’ve had 2-3 weeks of, er, tapering, due to a sudden bout of CBA*. But ‘cross season has started, so like all Proper Athletes, I’m formulating a structured, methodical plan of attack.
While I may have been busy PODIUMING over the summer, my sights are set somewhat more realistically for ‘cross. Last year, I was a newbie. My goals for the season were:
- Learn to remount (and, crucially, do it in an actual race);
- Come not-last at least once.
Avid readers will recall that I met both these goals, overhauling a 73-year-old in the final yards of one race and only getting my shorts caught on my saddle during one other. Therefore, throughout the season I set myself new, ongoing goals, including the following:
- Overtake someone;
- Ride up steep banks without getting off;
- Get round corners without foot-dabbing;
- Stop falling off on the DAMN singletrack.
I’m still working on no. 4, but can report definite progress on the others. So this year my goals are more specific. I’m looking at the races I rode last year, and tailoring my plans to the individual courses. (I’ve provided handy links to the race reports from last year, so you can remind yourself of how utterly hopeless I was, for perspective.)
Keighley: Ride the water crossing instead of getting off. Ride up and down the banks without getting off. Ditto the steep descent with a 90 degree bend at the bottom. And the muddy bits. And the off-camber sections. Basically, try and stay on the bike more than 17% of the time.
Wakefield: Stop falling off on the DAMN singletrack.
Brighouse: Arrange lovely, relaxing family day trip to somewhere at the other end of the country.
Temple Newsam: Didn’t do this one last year. From looking at other people’s race reports, mostly SFOOTDS**. And get round the corners. And don’t knock anybody off.
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.
Sheffield: Another new one. Find out where Sheffield is.
Heptonstall Fancy Dress: Never actually raced this one as always ill. Wash hands obsessively and refuse to breathe in for a week beforehand. Think up mind-blowingly ACE costume.
Todmorden: See Heptonstall, minus the fancy dress. No, sod it. I’ve missed this race 4 times due to illness (2 x winter, 2 x summer). If I actually get to race, I’ll wear the fancy dress to celebrate.
Sounds achievable, doesn’t it? Not too ambitious? True to form, I’m already hopelessly overexcited. This year I’ll be racing proudly in Here Come The Belgians colours, hoping I won’t be excommunicated for getting off and weeping on the cobbled climbs. The 8yo is an old hand, now, but this year marks the 5yo’s racing debut. @spandelles will reprise his role as pit crew-slash-supernanny-slash-psychotherapist. We’re going to smash it. Hup hup!
* Can’t Be Arsed
** Stop Falling Off On The Damn Singletrack
Tags: advice, beginner, biking, cycling, questionnaire, race, racing, skills, terminology
After I raced and MEDALLED and PODIUMED last weekend, curious readers have inundated* me with requests for advice. If no-hopers like me can race, maybe they can, too! What do they need to know? Do I have any tips? I’ve put together this handy questionnaire, so you can test your understanding of race etiquette and tactics. Consider your answers carefully.
1. What is through and off?
a. Something that happens if you don’t pay attention while you’re knitting
b. Working with other riders in a line, taking turns on the front
c. That thing where you jump your skateboard up and slide along the edge of a bench
2. If someone shouts ‘Get on my wheel!’ what do they mean?
a. Ride closely behind me, to shelter from the wind!
b. Here! You can have a go on the unicycle, now
c. Let me win, and I’ll leave you my fortune!
3. When you’ve taken a turn on the front, you should swing off. What does this mean?
a. Do a little slalom through the dotted lines, to demonstrate your bike handling skillz
b. Throw a punch at the nearest spectator
c. Move to the side to let the next person come to the front
4. When riding into the wind, you should adopt an aero position. What does this mean?
a. Sit up straight, so you can eat your chocolate without choking
b. Get right down over the handlebars so there’s less of you in the wind
c. Ride along with your arms sticking out going NNEEEAAAOOOW
5. In long races, you may need to refuel. Does this mean:
a. Ride no-hands and boss your gel like a PRO
b. Get someone to hand you up a Subway every three laps
c. Pick up a couple of bags of charcoal for the post-race barbie
6. Before racing, you should make sure you are adequately hydrated. Does this mean:
a. Take on isotonic fluids in small but regular quantities
b. Have a couple of shandies, and a Berocca chaser for the vitamins
c. Get someone to tip a bucket of water over your head
7. In sprints, you should always hold your line. What does this mean?
a. Don’t let go of the bungee attaching you to that fast guy
b. Mid-race coke-snorting is inadvisable, and best left for the after-party
c. Don’t veer all over the road
8. If you win, which is the correct podium arrangement?
a. 1st puts two arms up, 2nd puts right arm up, 3rd puts left arm up
b. All jump up and down waving excitedly, kissing medals etc.
c. 1st looks ecstatic, 2nd looks murderous, 3rd looks confused
9. If you win, which is the best podium speech?
a. I’d like to thank God, my agent, my mother, my mechanic, my tyre sponsor, my hairdresser and that person who comes to all my races but never says hello
b. You like me [sob]. You really like me!
c. Mum! MUM! Press the button on the top! No, the big button! The other one! Did it make a noise? No, that’s just it focusing. Press it harder! Did I have my eyes closed?
10. If you lose, which is the best excuse?
a. The sun was in my eyes
b. Knew I should have run tubs instead of clinchers
c. Oh! Were we racing?
* One person asked me, anyway
Tags: 2013, biking, Brompton World Championships, BWC, cross, cycling, cyclocross, diary, Goodwood, medal, Orbital Festival, podium, race, racing, women
Last year’s Bike Blenheim Palace Festival of Cycling was a beacon of happiness in a rotten summer; the only weekend in six weeks of school holidays where the sun blazed, we tootled around on tandems, and the whole family stopped bickering and had a lovely time. So I was keen to go to its 2013 incarnation, Orbital Festival at Goodwood. We booked tickets, entered races and got excited, but at the last minute the boyf baulked at the five-and-a-half-hours-in-the-car-with-two-squabbling-children-and-two-nights-in-a-tiny-tent aspect, and it looked like it was all off.
Happily, I have some brilliant friends. My twitter pal, the lovely and devastatingly witty @michgreig, offered to put me up at short notice and be my partner in crime, despite never having met me. (Blind faith, maybe, but when you’ve wept with laughter imagining your respective crushes fighting in jelly, you know you’ve found a kindred spirit.)
On Sunday we were on the 7:02 from Victoria, plotting our day and guffawing. We got off at Chichester and drafted a friendly Bromptoneer to Goodwood. At nine-something there were already Bromptons everywhere; it felt odd to be riding a big-wheeled bike. In a fit of excitement, we signed up for a race – the Tutti Frutti scratch race. 45min plus one lap. It’ll be fine! We’ll be fine! Yeah. Yeah!
We wandered round the stands. Everyone was friendly and delightful, with the exception of A Certain Café, who were their usual grumpy selves (but they’re from London, so we probably have to let them off). A quick bimble round the racetrack; 4.5km with a FIERCE headwind in the home straight. Oof. Then back, in time to watch the Bromptoneers lining their bikes up in the sunshine.
The Brompton World Championships is an incredible spectacle; this year there were 750 riders, all dressed up to the nines. It’s a Le Mans start: they set off in waves, running to their folded bike in the paddock, unfolding it and leaping aboard, then charging past the screaming fans (me) ringing cowbells (Michelle) onto the circuit. They did four laps, with some impressive tactics being employed; if you’ve never watched teams of Brompton riders doing through and off, I thoroughly recommend it. We made friends with a little family and screeched GWAAAN ANOOP! every time their son rode past. Someone gave us a free Berocca**. It was all jolly nice.
As the last of the Bromptoneers rolled in, we were in the starting area, hyperactive with nerves. We defused them by joshing with the other competitors: ‘You look a bit pro. No skinsuits in this race.’ By the time we were herded over to the start line, we were all best buddies. A quick run-through of the rules from a marshal (disappointingly, these weren’t No Pushing, No Bombing, No Petting), a blast from his air horn, and we were off. I shot out the front like an idiot and wondered where everybody was for about a third of a lap, before the bunch (including Michelle) steamed past me, working together like pros. Oh dear. I couldn’t hold their wheels and pedalled round on my own for a lap and a bit, before being caught by a girl of about 14 and her dad.
Pride prevented me from letting them go, so I jumped on her wheel***, then went up to the front for a turn. Me! Working with people! Blimey. We steamed round for half a lap then I swung off*** and she came through***; we’d left her dad behind at some point. The two of us stayed together for the rest of the race. At a couple of points she flagged and I waited; after that I took the pulls*** into the headwind and let her do the tailwind sections. FOOL. The bell rang, we did our final lap, I pulled her up the home straight and she tried to come round me. I went ‘Ooh, you BEAST!’ and pulled out all the stops****, just managing to pip her for the line. Cheek. (There’s a photo of me doing this, looking like I’m about to be sick. I won’t inflict that on you. Here’s one I like better, of me doing Oh My God This Sodding Headwind: )
We giggled about excitedly for a while, WOOHOOing at the Brompton presentations and squeaking at people doing backflips on trials bikes. I fangirled all over Michael Hutchinson and Julia Shaw. We were about to go home when our names were called over the tannoy. We were needed for the presentations. Us! Needed! For PRESENTATIONS! We ran over, laughing hysterically, dumping bikes and bags and clattering up the stairs, to be called out onto the balcony for the WOMEN’S PODIUM. Yes, dear reader, I got a kiss, a handshake and an ACTUAL MEDAL for coming in third woman. Michelle, the Pocket Rocket, was FIRST WOMAN. People cheered and clapped and took photos. It was, quite honestly, one of the best moments of my life.
Wearing our medals, we rumbled home on the train with ca. 1357 other bikies (most of them on Bromptons, of course, though this didn’t stop the guard having a good grump at us all). Andrew greeted us at the door in a butcher’s apron; the barbie was already on. He listened patiently to the overexcited gabble; we even remembered to ask him how his day had been.
When I got home to the family the next day, the boys responded to my news in typical fashion. 5yo (pouting): ‘But I wanted you to WIN!’ 8yo (kissing my medal reverently): ‘That’s AMAZING.’ It WAS amazing. An amazing weekend with amazing mates doing daft but amazing things. A heartfelt thank you to Michelle and Andrew for welcoming me and making it all possible. You’re utter stars.
* What does all this have to do with ‘cross? Eagled-eyed readers will spot that I raced on my ‘cross bike. More importantly, without having discovered ‘cross, I wouldn’t be doing any of this.
** Don’t drink Berocca if you’re frightened of neon wee, by the way
*** Get me, with the TERMINOLOGY
**** I actually pulled a muscle doing this. No-one can accuse me of not Trying Hard
Tags: beginner, biking, cross, csp, cycle sport pendle, cycling, cyclocross, diary, north west cyclocross, nwcca, race, racing, waddow hall, women
I’d been worrying all week about the ice. But Friday was wet and warm, and everything started to thaw. Saturday brought Cycle Sport Pendle’s CX event at Waddow Hall: much-anticipated as it included a women-only race. Our OWN race! Just for US. I was so excited, I even had a dream about it:
We were out of the house at a hitherto uncharted time, to get there for the women’s race at 10am. The satnav looked like it was dumping us in the middle of nowhere, but – uncharacteristically for ‘cross – the entrance to the venue was signalled with two enormous orange CSP flags. We parked and immediately found @trio25, @nosila107, @waterrat77, @millsphysio and @makepiece, all in good spirits (apart from @makepiece, who was ill but riding anyway #badass). The course recce sobered us up a bit, though: a long push up an endless hill, zigzags round the tape, a singletrack climb and KER-RAZY descent, a bit more zigzagging and downhilling, and an uphill drag of a finishing strait complete with soft mud and plenty of leaves. Ooh. No resting up, then. I took off most of my layers, ate half a sandwich and went to line up.
According to event sponsor Cheryl King’s blogpost, there were 21 of us on the start line. Wow. You should have seen us, going up the long hill the first time! We were dead enthusiastic. I was running in and out of competitors, trying to make up places. @waterrat77 even shouldered her bike! Naturally, subsequent ascents got slower and slower. I managed a bit of a jog for the @SportSunday photographer, once. Blimey.
It was a tough course, even before it had got all churned up (the main race was a fearsome grind through deep, cloggy mud: @spandelles described it as ‘the Somme’). Having no faith in my bike handling ability, I ran down the singletrack every time (despite @crossjunkie yelling RIDE IT at me. Sorry…). Downhills were leaps of faith, as my brakes had pretty much given up by the second lap; afterwards I realised that I’d hauled on them so hard, I’d pulled the straddle cables right through the adjusters.
On the final lap, I tried in vain to hold off @waterrat77 and @trio25, who were gaining on me, inexorably, like the truck in Duel). They lapped me going up the finishing strait. NOOOO! In a final, desperate burst of effort, I unlapped myself, managing to pass @trio25 just before the line. I got off and couldn’t talk for about five minutes. How it should be, I guess.
We hung around washing bikes, pushing Segundo on the swing and chatting to people before Primo’s race. It was a bit later than we’d expected, and quite a long time since breakfast, looking back… He set off in high spirits and rode really well: running up the hills, passing people, getting back on quickly, cornering like a pro.
I chased him round the field in true #CXMum style, yelling encouragement, grinning from ear to ear at my brilliant boy. When I caught up with him, to my astonishment, he was crying with rage. I HATE THIS! THEY MADE IT ALL MUDDY ON PURPOSE! I’M GOING TO COME LAST! He made it up the finishing strait, pushing the bike (like most of his competitors). As he went over the line, the bell rang. Me: Come on Primo! That means there’s only one more lap! You can do that! You’ve been riding so brilliantly! I’ve never seen you ride this well! Everyone’s pushing! Everyone’s struggling! Him: I HATE CYCLOCROSS! I’M NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN, EVER! But he carried on… and he ran up the hill, and got back on, and zigzagged down with aplomb, looking MURDEROUS the whole time.
It took a good fifteen minutes for him to calm down afterwards. The bonk: of course. Should have realised. We force fed him isotonic drink and Shot Blox (the only thing he would eat: I’M NOT HUNGRY!). By the time we got down to the sign-on to give in his number, he was looking happier. Woman collecting numbers: Did you enjoy that? Him: Yes! Well, more or less… He was really chuffed with his prize (a Hope bottle). The Girl Guides were doing an amazing job producing hot food for next to no money. Primo inhaled a baked potato and a chip butty, and normal service was resumed.
Hat tip and enormous thanks to @sparkieturner , @crossjunkie and all at CSP for putting on a brilliant day of racing. Best ‘cross event we have been to, bar none. And thanks for your vision and faith in putting on a women-only race; really hope this will pave the way for other organisers to take this route.
- Terrific pictures of the women’s race and main race from C King Images on Flickr
- Comprehensive writeup with pictures and results on the North West Cyclocross Association blog
- Enormous set of great pictures from all races on SportSunday’s site