‘Cross diary 33: BRIDE of @RaphaSuperCross

October 23, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Posted in cycling | Leave a comment
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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.

kids on the start line (pic by @spandelles)

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.

Me on the start line (pic by @nik_tweet)

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.

Rapha SuperCX 2013 Skipton 21

I *am* suffering. Honest. That’s a grimace of pain. (Picture (c) Jo Allen, used with kind permission)

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…

broken_saddle (pic by @spandelles)

Winner of the Most Original Excuse For A DNF competition

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.

broughton hall with 5yo

‘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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