It’s a wrap! (almost)
Although I really love my chosen sport, there’s often a certain amount of relief when the ‘cross season comes to an end. Racing every weekend for 5 or 6 months is tough, not so much the race itself – that’s just a painful hour – but all the stuff that goes along with it really eats into your days. Washing kit, cleaning bikes, turbo training, lifting weights, gluing tyres, repairing bikes, packing bags and driving, driving… lots of driving.
For some reason, though, this year I really don’t want it to end.
My last league race was on Sunday and it was an epic battle between myself and one of my main adversaries this season, Stephen James of Renvale RT – erstwhile elite MTB racer, current regional cyclocross champion and all round nice guy.
League positions had already been pretty much secured, with Matt Holmes of Arctic Tacx RT sealing the overall win, Steve nabbing second and me taking third, but for me, this race was the best and closest of the season.
The last time I raced at Trinity Park, the course was a quagmire, with thick mud covering every inch of the course. It was my only DNF of the season. This time, though, conditions were perfect – slippery and technical without being a bike wrecking slog.
After some early to and fro amongst our lead group of five, James and I gradually pulled away, and by lap three we were well clear. The course was well-stocked with grassy twists and turns, and I seemed to have the lines to get a gap each time we headed into these slippery sections, but Steve would always reel me in on the muddy techy bits and I just couldn’t get clear. My only hope was a last fast push through the chicanes to try and get enough of a gap for the long tarmac finishing straight. I gritted my teeth and hoped for a clean run onto the finish.
I reached the tarmac with a 10 yard lead and put my head down for a long, long sprint to the flag. I’d been leading for the majority of the race and my legs were tired. Top gear, pushing as hard as I could, legs refusing to spin any faster. A wheel to my left as the line looms up, much more slowly than I would have liked. I glance to my left and it’s all over. He has the momentum and round he goes, taking the win in the nearest thing to a photo finish of any cx race I’ve been involved in.
I’ll be working on my sprint this summer, but this race reminded me what the sport is all about, at every level; Find someone who rides as quick as you do and see if you can go faster. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t, but you’ll have a huge amount of fun trying to find out.
Thanks to all my sponsors for the 2014/15 season, especially to Kona for another great bike. The Major Jake has served me well in 22 races, carrying me to 15 podiums and 7 race wins, including a V40-49 title at the South East Regional Championships.
Thanks also to my Hackney GT teammates and to Russ Jones, the team boss, for putting it together. Thanks to Mike Kangelos of Push Cycles (Stoke Newington) for keeping my wheels turning and to 9Bar for the snacks. Thanks also to everyone who has made the Eastern Cyclocross League happen this season. There are so many helpers, volunteers and marshals involved in every race – these events take a ton of work. The Eastern League (http://www.easterncross.org.uk/) is awesome and I’d highly recommend it as a great place to start your cyclocross racing life!
Final thanks is the biggest of all and that’s to my wife and kids for letting me go out to play every weekend. It’s been a blast.