Following the immensely enjoyable race at Rouken Glen last week, I decided to enter one more CX race for the 2014-15 season, at the Foxlake Wakeboard Park, near Dunbar.
I spent a couple of hours on race morning getting organized, then set off in good time to allow me to sign on and check out the course before the starting horn. Unfortunately on my way around the course a pedal snapped off, and it took a wee bit of time to replace.
In the end I managed to check a fair bit of the route out, which consisted of a flat section that became quite muddy, followed by a steepish climb into a wooded area, which then pointed upward more gradually before plunging back down. A sharp right hander with a wee hollow at the bottom of the hill was there to catch people out, as was the tough climb bringing you up to the top of the course. Another drop and climb under the belt and then the final descent back into the start finish area, which contained a log which had to be hopped and a wee hill to run up, then a ‘Belgian switchback’ back to the finish line.
And so the race…
There are normally 80-100 people waiting to start a race and often it’s a case of first come first served at the start line, if you’re not in the top10-15 who are called forward. I will often go to the back of the grid, but today I positioned myself further up as my starts have been relatively good of late. A quick briefing from race organiser Jimmy Mac and off we go.
Round the back of the lake, through the grasping, cloying, mud and into the trees for the first time. A chance to see how I am doing? A quick look and I can see a few still behind me, and around me a group of 5 or 6 riders I am in touch with. Up the hill and a few pass me, but I claw my way back to them and then down down down a roller coaster of a drop and then up another climb. This one hurts but I manage to pass one or two on the way up and it’s time to push on. Legs churning and burning as I trundle through an undulating section and it’s back down again before a tough climb, which felt much easier in practice than during the race. Then line up for a final drop drown, grab a breather and into a flat section where you pick up a wee bit of headwind before struggling over the log and up a wee lump before switching back to the finish line… Only another 6 laps to go.
Things start to settle down and I can think about the riders around me. Sometimes I would hang in a wheel, other times I would get past them to set my own tempo. A few riders ahead I could see a man in orange, and he remained my target for the rest of the race. At one point I could have touched his back wheel, but he managed to stay away. On the penultimate lap a couple of riders put me under pressure, one guy managed to get a gap and he was away, another pushed hard but I dug deep on a hill and the following section to form and hold a lead, while trying to get back up to my target man. In the end I could not bridge that gap and crossed the line, barely able to talk.
After my own race I was able to watch the A listers race and saw Davie Lines rip the field up to win for the second week on the trot. A quick hand to help tidy up and then back down the road for some well earned dinner.
Turns out I did ok, placing 50th out of 60, beating some riders who left me for dead last week and finishing in the same lap as people who were a lap ahead of me before Christmas.
A great, fun, ride to close the ‘Cross season and now it’s time to make plans for the next one. More of which in the next blog.