In this case, if X is a spot, then it’s a long-lasting, ugly, painful bugger.
If we have any regulars to this wee site, you’d know it’s been mainly Nick holding down the fort this year, (and doing a bluddy good job) whilst I’ve been swanning off round the world/trying to concentrate on running on a new business. This, has resulted in two things… A lack of posts on this here site and a lack of any actual bicycle riding.
So coming into this winter, things began to get quieter and like many, it was time to catch up on things, whether that’s family, friends or a new lego set, the off-season is a blank canvas at the moment. We all know that it can be a time to have our own little ‘Rocky’ moment and fill ourselves with ideas and plans about how we’re going to get mega fit for ‘next season’. I’m not gonna lie, come end of November, I was feeling pretty grim and un-fit, so plans began to form… After a quick encounter (at the Climbing Works) with local Olympian and old school mate Annie Last, I somehow ended up promising to attend a Cyclocross race, out near her home in Great Longstone.
There’s a few things that come to my mind straight away, replicated through the images below:
Now I think you’ll agree, none of those 4 things above, look like a laugh.
But come December 29th, full of Turkey, Beer and anger from visiting family, me and Rich Baybutt, another one of those media types who swans off all over the place, lined up bar to bar, at the SRAM NDCXL Round 12, Thornbridge Hall.
Turning up, we had no idea what to bring, where to go or what to do. There was a lot of folk looking pretty serious, going full bore on wet rollers, with crazy soft tyres (apparently your not meant to have 60psi for X, who’d have known!) all looking ready for war. Walking down to the ‘track’, I imagined we’d be seeing a mix of woods, tarmac and surfaced trails, but I was wrong, very wrong. Thick, wet ,muddy grass straights, 15 feet wide, were taped in up and down the field, interspersed with 180 switchbacks, all on a completely flat gradient. It looked like the worlds shittest go Kart Track and to say It looked grim, would be an under-statement… Thoughts of ‘making up time on the downhill sections’, went well out the window and smashed one over the road.
But even after realising our fate, we were both still relatively psyched… Operations ‘don’t finish last’ and ‘beat the gompers on mountain bikes’ was put in place from the off and we JUST about achieved it. To keep things short, as we are talking about riding road bikes round fields after all … It was fun. Yep, in some weird twisted way, kind of like when you listen to Taylor Swift driving by yourself, it just felt right. Being knee deep in mud, with 100+ lycra clad men in December ended up being not too bad ya know. 50 minutes of pain went by pretty quick and during that time, you got to see the top boys come past you like they were on tarmac, pushing that big ring whilst your sat in the granny straining away. Local lad and MTB legend, Nick Craig, races a lot of X and boy can he corner on it… There’s grip somewhere on those tyres. He kind of got stuck in the tape though at one point when he pushed it a bit too far, after flying past me on the inside…. but none the less ended up 2nd, good work chap.
After it was all over, freezing our bollocks off and wanting to puke the morning diet of jelly babys and gatorade back up, it was a surreal moment, as we stood in a sleepy estate getting changed out the back of a van. ‘People actually move to Belgium to do this?’ was the main concern.
Next round’s on the 19th in Ashbourne. Get on it. Here’s a few do’s and don’ts from a first timer, good luck :
– Be fit
– Enjoy gruelling slog fests in mud
– Make sure your brakes are working prior to starting
– Let some air out of your tyres.
– Pass as many on the first lap as you can, find a rhythm!
– Forget to make sure your brakes are working
– Eat too many Jelly Babys and Gatorade for breakfast beforehand
– Have a bottle-cage on your bike
– Use a Mountain Bike.