The first cyclocross race since 2011 was held in Plean today, and what a humdinger it was. It may have been one of the coldest races of the year, but the action was hot, hot, hot.
I had planned to make up for my big cream puff at Strathclyde by getting down to the course nice and early to catch the J/W/vet50 race. And for once my plan worked. I was able to go for a wander around the course for a while with international cyclocross legend and race promoter Jon McComiskey. ”The passion for ‘cross is strong in this one”. It was great to hear Jon’s thoughts on the race at hand, as well as the wider cross scene. After speaking to Jon, I also managed to share a long chat with social media guru and drum-up blogger, Owen Philipson. More on this chat at a later date.
During this course walk we were able to enjoy a great race. The weather was atrocious, with heavy rain and sleet falling before and during the 40 minutes of racing. This did not deter Eileen and Brendan Roe, who were scrapping it with Kenny Kentley at the sharp end. Nor did it hold back the remainder of the field from working hard out there. Roe Jnr and Kentley dropped Roe Snr as the laps ticked away. The two were going toe-to-toe, but Eileen held on for victory after Kenny dropped out with a late mechanical, Brendan finished in second with Jane Barr digging in to finish third.
I then spent the v40 race trying to get organized for my own race. I had walked the course, but a quick lap to check it out would make things clearer. The start area was part of the normal lap, and offered a flat and well surfaced section to recover, before a long blast through a sodden path. This brought us down to a sharp 270° turn, with mud of course, followed by a short ascent to the first muddy, grassy section. Over the hurdles and then wind your way down through the boggy parkland, bouncing as you go. A wee turn and then a fast runoff brought us to the long climbing sections. Up along the burn, then over and up the bridle path to the highest point of the course. Then down, plunging and sliding we went, back down to the burn, before a nice fast section to return us to the finish area, and it all kicks off again.
My bike was gubbed- rear brakes gone, front brakes not strong enough, pedals not clicking in. And that was before the start! My fitness at the moment is just as bad, so when the last rider in front of me started pulling away within the first couple of minutes, I felt like climbing off. But the great thing about cross is the encouragement you receive to keep on keeping on. So after a couple of laps I started to push myself.
Without throwing caution to the wind, I messed about with lines and speed and began to enjoy the freezing, wet, mud-splattered majesty of the day, even the climb where I blew a gasket on the final lap, and on the mad, rooty, single track section with porridge-like mud and sharp corner at the bottom. In between times I saw David Lines (1st), Michael Nicholson (2nd) and Gary Mcdonald (3rd), a lot of times, smash things up at the front of the race. And a lot of other people going faster than me too.
Dead last – room for improvement.
On to Irvine for some fun on the sand.
Tip of the hat must go to the Unders who raced earlier in the day, all the marshalls and spectators who made the course safe and cheered all riders on.
It was a tough day for all!
Some links –