Today was my first taste of competitive cyclocross action in 2016. And I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Rouken Glen is a fantastic, natural arena, and the course organizers made great use of the features to create a challenging parcours that was also fun to ride. The icing on the cake was the snowfall during Saturday, which gave the race an extra dimension, while lending itself to beautiful, snowy, race imagery.
RGCX is part of the Superquaich series of races, with an A&B race, of mixed age and gender in each round, with points availale as well as promotion, relegation and bragging rights. I was allocated a place in the B race.
I arrived at the race village with low expectations, mainly due to my rear derailleur not shifting of the smallest sprocket, in other words the highest gear. There would be a lot of running involved. Sign on was simple, then it was off to the ‘start chute’, with cross buddy Anthony. A few words of advice from the main man and Albannach patron, Jim Cameron and a hoot on his horn (00h-er missus!) and we were off. 100 of us, up a long drag to get into the course-proper and within a few hundred yards I hit the deck. Someone in front bounced through a rut and crossed my line as I moved up, knocking me off in the process, then someone ran into the back of me.
Not the most auspicious of starts, but back up and on we go. Up the wee hill and down and up the mini dipper. Then off and running up through the woods for the first time. I remember bouncing through this section last year due to all the roots around, and they were still there, so take it easy and then into the start-finish area and dropping down to the bottom of the steep run-up. No beer tokens please then back down through gully, and more running. A quick blast across the shoulder of the gully then descending through some hairpins, and then guess what? More running. So back up and down and up and off and down and on and rinse and repeat. Sounds hard right? But it was great fun.
I passed a few people on the flatter and downhill sections, they scalped me anytime there was any incline. Running with a bike is generally slower than pedalling. So despite some yo-yo-ing, I found myself gravitating towards the back of the race. But it was still a race. Time was ticking down and with a lap and a half to go, I realised I had to make a wee move to drop the two people who were playing leapfrog with me. A big dig through the woods, a fast run-up and drop off. Speeding through the descending hairpins and another push on the upside. And just keep digging and digging. Then it stops.
A big tip of the racing cap to the organizer and race marshalls for putting together a great course in testing conditions. And for all the hardy souls who came out to watch and cheer on the mad bampots racing. DoonbankTrofee is next. Who knows, I might even get myself in gear and get the gearing sorted. Maybe.