Tuesday, 19 November 2013

western league round 7 (autumn/winter series)

round 7 of the cyclo-cross western league was at bath's odd down circuit.  although there was a cross race at this venue during the summer time, as part of the summer league, this was the first time in many years a winter series cx race had been held in bath, my home town race.

many thanks to andy from bath cc and his wife for putting in a huge effort to get the race prepped and set up.  as andy said on the start line he was there from dark o'clock putting the course together.  also big thanks goes to the other race supporters including bike bath, radeon cycle coaching, velo club walcot and kreis performance cyclewear.  finally thanks to all the volunteers and supporters who attended what was without doubt the best supported western league cx race on the calender.

not only was there great support, there was also over 100 riders who took to the start line of the main race.  easily the most participants any western league race has ever hosted, possibly the most the region has ever seen.  it is no coincidence this round of the league was also the most well publicised with the race having been brought to many peoples attention through all the usual social media outlets.  pair this up with a course that is one of the most innovative in the league plus there being no wessex league race and a recipe for success was formed.

living so close to the course i rode over the morning before to scope out conditions and practice a couple of the technical sections.  it was colder than race day and although there had been a slight frost during the night rain from the past few weeks ensured conditions would be muddy.  fast forward to sunday and grey and drizzle were the order of the day.  it was a couple of degrees warmer too  meaning conditions were more muddy than the previous chillier day.

betty and bella accompanied me to the race.  we were not the only ones to arrive as a family.  the great thing about grass roots cx and i guess to an extent, all levels of cx, is that it is a perfect sport to watch as a family. it lasts about a hour and you get to see continual action as riders stream past in a long line that is the dynamic of most cx races.

i had never seen so many cars at odd down as we entered the circuit car park.  i knew right then it would be a really big field racing.  first thing i did was the pay my £11 entry fee, then got myself ready to warm up.  although it was slightly warmer than the day before a cold mist hung low over the circuit and i could feel its chill cut straight through my winter cycling jacket as i rode the course.  i knew the course would be muddy so i only rode some of it as i had already been up the day before.  i wanted to start the race with a relatively clean bike so kept mainly to the tarmaced track.

race start was slightly delayed until 12 noon.  as the time approached i made sure to take my place at the front of the waiting area just a few metres behind the start line proper.  i knew i was not going to get a seeded call up to the first two lines but decided that i would make an effort to be as close to the front as possible for the start especially being that it was my home race.  as soon as the seeded rider list had been called the rest of us moved forward to join them.  i took my place on the third line.

the chequered flag was waved and we were off racing down the tarmaced circuit until we exited onto grass.  this eventually led along a muddy path to the start of the bmx dirt track with its multiple bumps and curved turn.  then it was back onto a grass / mud section which was possibly the muddiest rutted section of the lot.  this lead into the most technical section with a slippery descent into woods and a smattering of gnarly tree roots followed by a hard slog back up and out of the woods which for me meant shouldering the bike or as i heard one spectator shout 'taking the bike for a walk'.  once out of the woods it was back onto a gravel path, then grass again and finally barriers before entering back onto the tarmaced circuit.

i managed to race all but the last lap and a half of the race and in the process must have collected an extra couple of kilograms of weight to my bike in the form of mud and grass.  i realised, on the bmx track, that i my rear tyre was starting to loose pressure.  it was no good i pulled over to the side and assessed the situation.  before quitting i borrowed a pump from a spectator in the hope  i could get enough air in the tube to get me to the finish.  riders were passing me all the time but i would have rather finished towards to back of the field than dnf'ed.  it did not work, pumping the tire made no difference.  i walked my bike back to where betty and bella were waiting for me, race over.

no matter that i dnf'ed though, my local cx race had been a great success and I cannot wait until I get to race again at odd down in the summer.  below are a few comments emailed into race organiser andy stewart that are certainly worth sharing:

'just a quick one to say a massive thanks for organising yesterdays race.  i loved the course and it is definitely one of the best courses that we've done in the western league.'

'the supporters, venue and helpers were great and i even could have a cup of tea and a shower afterwards!'
'i went to rapha super cross a few weeks ago and in my opinion the race yesterday was a lot better.'

keep an eye out for a full list of results here.  next up for me though will be round 8 of the western league at what will no doubt be another very muddy affair at warmley.


Analogue Andy said...

Great report Jason, gutted about the flat. Reminds me of one of my first race on a cross bike on the 'old' Odd Down course (had always ridden the MTB up 'til then). First lap round my the seat post slipped. Found an allen key - The bolt snapped. Carried on regardless. Fell off. Final lap, punctured! That's cross ;-)

Shiney said...


I was there - I'm a rookie so see here on my mates blog for my experience