Saturday, 22 June 2013

western summer cx league round 6 race report


photo courtesy of ifonlyiwerebelgian

the above photo of me pretty much sums up my race experience from last wednesday's cyclo-cross race at hengrove park in bristol.  to start with i arrived at the park later than i would have preferred due to busy post work traffic.  with only 20 minutes to go before the start of the race i only had enough time to sign on, change and warm up for a couple of minutes before riders started to be called to the line.  this meant i did not have enough time to ride my usual sighting lap.  i thought i would be alright since this was not the first time i had raced the course but it turned out the course was being run the opposite way round.

this time i decided i would not place myself towards the back of the starting line and instead made an effort to get as close to the front as i could which turned out to be the third row.  the starter signalled go and we were off.  hengrove park is built on what used to be an air field.  the course takes in a stretch of the now disused airstrip and it was this section that we all raced down first.

the pack quickly formed into a long line as the pace of the first lap created almost immediate selections of riders.  as usual i took my place somewhere in the middle of this long strung out line.  without insufficient warm up i was finding the going really hard straightaway but held my position nonetheless.

for the first two or three laps i had a guy from bristol south sitting on my wheel.  i could see patrick (i duked it out with him at my last race) from lvis in the distance and tried in vain to bridge the gap. instead i was dragging the bristol south dude around while i was doing more of the work.  as we entered the airstrip section i tried to put the hammer down to drop him but he just stuck to my wheel like glue.  i flicked the elbow and he obligingly overtook me.  i thought i would sit on his wheel for a while but instead he sped off leaving me in no mans land.

i was now by myself apart from having one more carrot on a stick in front of me in the form of a rider from dream cycling which was a surprise.  usually the boys from dream are way ahead and i only see some of them when they lap me.  this time though i slowly pulled myself closer to this guy and eventually made contact.  i passed him and pushed on thinking i would be able to consolidate a decent placing.  less than one lap later and 37 minutes into the race (the race was 50 minutes plus a l lap i think) i could feel my front tire go pan flat.  that was it for me, no spare wheel.  there was no point in trying to mend the flat, the race would be nearly over by the time i was going again.

the above photo shows me walking back towards the finish line to hand in my race number.  it was the seond time in six starts that i had dnf'ed.  the first was at warmley when i had a major mechanical failure.  this time though it was simply down to broken glass.  i really need to think about going tubeless.  if i was running tubeless tires i would have finished the race, anyway a lesson learned.  in the short term i am going to start using latex inner tubes in a bid to be able to run lower pressure in my clinchers but as i say longer term i think the answer is tubeless, much cheaper than going tubular.

although the race at hengrove proved to be an anticlimax it was still worth the visit as i was able to meet twitter friends gavin from velo club bristol as well as ifonlyiwerebelgian from bristol road club.  nice to meet the real people behind the twitter profiles!

next up will be my highlight of the summer series with wednesday's race at odd down circuit.  it is the first time for many years that a cx race has been held in bath and should be quite unique in that it takes in part of the new odd down racing circuit as well as woods and the bmx track!  as a member of velo club walcot i was given an opportunity to lend a hand in helping to design the course along with charles coleman from dream cycling and andy stewart of bath cycling club who has done a massive amount of work to make the race happen so a big thanks goes out to andy.

for more detail on this wednesday's race at odd down visit the british cycling website here.  see you there.

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