After a slightly disappointing National Championships weekend, where an early crash dashed my hopes of a top 20 placing, my cyclocross mojo has been restored by my first weekend double!
An icy trip to Bury St Edmunds on Saturday was rewarded by a hard-fought win in the final round of the Elmy Eastern League, where a snowy and undulating course created all sorts of problems for the unwary. My early lead was quickly wiped out by a 2nd lap crash and subsequent mechanical, but I managed to get back to the leaders and eventually shook off a strong challenge by Ross Tricker of XRT-Elmy Cycles to take first place, my third win in the Eastern series.
Sunday’s conditions were even more difficult, with steady snowfall making the final round of the London League a picturesque but treacherous affair, as the thick snow was compacted by 50 pairs of knobbly tyres.
This round of the league is always a challenge, as the rooty singletrack sections around Wilmington School are probably better suited to a mountain bike rather than a ‘cross bike, even when conditions are good. Some of the narrowest sections of the course turned to solid ice as the race wore on, and the problems of a lack of grip were compounded by mud and ice packing into pedals, making it very hard to clip-in after any dismounts. The tried and tested method of spraying anti-freeze onto pedals and cleats before the race only worked for a couple of laps and after that it was a matter of trying to kick the debris out of your pedals whenever there was a chance to freewheel.
Jack Finch of PMR Racing challenged hard throughout the race, but I managed to keep him at bay for the hour and finished the race 50 seconds clear, bruised and battered after one of the trickiest races of the season. One more race to go before I dust off the mountain bike, ready for a summer of dry and dusty trails. Fingers crossed…
Photo Credit: Simon Scarsbrook