Saturday, November 2, 2013

2013 YPCX7 - Edwyn

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Yorkshire Points Round 7- Sheffield

Right, so new team equals new kit, and for round 7 of the Yorkshire Points cyclocross series, it was time to try out the new black and orange skin suit. Exciting stuff! And to go along with the “new” theme, it was also a new course, located at Whitely Woods near Sheffield. All that was certain, running up to the race, was that it was going to be a muddy one; lots of rain in the week suggested the sound of jet washes could soon be in the air.

Rain continued to fall for the journey down to the race, but feelings were relaxed after a an extra hour of much needed sleep, due to the clocks changing. The Chemical Brother were throbbing out of the speakers, and I was looking forward to race.

I managed to squeeze in a quick recce lap before the veterans race began, and the course was ploughed again following the youth race. First impressions were: 1, mud, 2, corners, and lots of them, and 3, “surely this is faster to run”.

The new kit in action
The first part of the course consisted of a number of sharp, slippy corners, sending you up and down a slight gradient. Separating the corners were muddy straights, some quicker to run and others where you were constantly battling for traction, seeming to be digging a trench rather than moving forward. This section eventually meandered you to the high point of the course, just before you tackled “the maze”. After a short section of woodland singletrack, you were spat out into a network of tape and course, unable to distinguish which part came first. A great length of course seemed to have been squeezed into a very small area, which resulted in numerous hairpins. Thrown into this section was also a section of unridable mud and a set of hurdles. Technical and demanding yet very enjoyable. Once out of the maze, you entered another section of woodland, this time heading downwards. It was a slippy, tight and fast descent, which could cause problems when partnered with fatigue. This brought you out not far from the finish line, which, after a slippy, off camber hairpin, was to be crossed.

It was clear to see from the mud, which was clug to my bike, that a few bike changed would be necessary during the race. Not only would the build up of mud add extra weight to my bike, but would also increase the risk of a mechanical, such as a broken hanger, indefinitely ending my race. So, after signing on and a brief encounter with fellow MTBO team mate Andy Douglas, I gave my my bike a good wash down and then set to work warming up.

After the usual routine on the turbo trainer, a spell of fast paced music to get me a bit into the zone and raspberry ripple energy gel, I was ready to race.

My start was not great. I missed my pedal, which, partnered with the uphill nature of the start, caused me to be a great number of places down. This didn’t phase me and I pushed hard to try and get them back. With the usual back logs on the opening lap of races, I decided to run a few of the first corners, which allowed me to jump up the rankings. Half way around the first lap and I found myself in a more respectable position, just outside of the top 10 I think. For the rest of the lap I picked up a few more places and found myself alongside local friend and rival Dave Morris, who I have bad a few battles with at previous races. I knew there was no chance either of us would let the other go, not without a hard fight first.

Remounting after one of the unrideable sections

A couple of laps later, and Dave and I still had locked horns. Dave took the first bike change, which allowed me to get a small short lived advantage. The mud free bike allowed Dave to almost glide back to me, even with a short dig by me to drop him. Half a lap later and I took my first bike change of the race, straight away wishing I hadn’t. It was the first race of the season where it was necessary to change bikes due to the mud, and my second bike had not been tested in such conditions before - it felt like riding a road bike. The tyres seemed to have no tread and I had to take corners much more cautiously and climbs were made much harder with such a lack of grip. Hoping my first bike had been cleaned, I entered the pits for the second time only half a lap later. Thankfully, the quick work of my pit monkey, sorry, my dad, meant I could swiftly jump onto my first bike again, which felt more like a tractor in comparison to my second bike.

Despite my trouble with my second bike, I managed to make up my losses, dig deep and catch back up with Dave. There was no way I was going to let him go. To me, and I’m sure to him also, the rest of the riders did not matter. Who came out on top between him and me was the only thing that mattered.

Up until the final lap, Dave and I jumped on small mistakes by the other rider in order to get a gap and pull away. It left the other person going right into oxygen debt to catch up and get back into contention. From a spectators point of view, it would seem that we were taking it in turns, lap by lap, to be in front, all in all, a very civilized affair. Little did they know, it was the complete opposite. There was hardly a moment when one rider sat on the other’s wheel; there was always one of us trying to make the other suffer. Each time a bike change was made by one person, the other would make a move. At one point I took one too many risks trying to drop Dave and ended up flying over the handlebars, after clipping a stump on the woody descent. But, despite each of our efforts, the result would came down to the last lap, with both of us getting the bell at exactly the same time.

One of many attacks on Dave

Not long into the final lap, Dave went into the pits for a bike change. I seized the moment. I attacked straight away, and didn’t look back. I pushed hard out of every corner and along every straight. I caught glimpses of Dave just behind me when the course meandered back and forth; I had a very small advantage and any mistake would cost me the race.

Thankfully, I managed to hold out just a few meters on Dave all the way to the finish line, and I came home as top Harrogate rider, I hardly thought of my overall position, which was, in the end, 9th.

I was quite pleased with this overall position; it added a little to beating Dave. Really, I wanted to be a few places higher up, but the race had given me a few pointers in how to improve for next time and I was happy with that. Plus as well, I was going to see The Cat Empire, one of my favorite band, in the evening, so I was very much looking forward to that.

I would really like to thank my dad for pitting for me. It’s a hard job in the pits; there is tremendous pressure to get a bike cleaned in a very small amount of time and it is a very selfless job. It was much appreciated!

I would also like to thank cxmagazine for the kit in which I raced and warmed up in. It was the first time I had raced in it and, well, I loved it. The reaction from others was about the kit was also very positive. Look out for the black and orange!

Check out for all the cyclocross news and reviews, plus details on how to subscribe to the mag.

Also, just a quick note regarding the cyclocross race at Huddersfield on the 20th October. Unfortunately, due to a back injury sustained in a crash on the third or fourth lap, I had to pull out. I don’t really like DNFs, like most people, but I think carrying on would have done a lot more bad than good. Thankfully, after a lot of lying down, some deep heat and a roast pork bap all was good; so no lasting damage.

I shall be back racing again this coming weekend in Sheffield, for the cyclocross race at Grave’s Park. Until then, happy riding.

No comments:

Post a Comment