I’ve covered a lot of miles in pursuit of cyclocross over recent weeks, and Sunday saw the longest drive yet – a five hour round trip to take part in the aptly-named Broome Heath Scramble near Bungay in North Suffolk.
This was race 12 of 14 in the Elmy Cycles Eastern Cyclocross League, and one that I really needed to win if I was to keep my title hopes on track.
From the start it seemed to be a day for minor mishaps, with all the main contenders tangling with each other in one way or another.
I lost my back brake early on in a sandpit clash with a teammate, but the main prang involved last year’s league winner Tim Guy (of hosting club Iceni Velo) and this year’s top contender Ross Tricker of Elmy Cycles, the winner of last weekend’s Regional Championships. The two were able to continue their race, but their collision left the way clear for me and my teammate Ben Lewis to really try and create a gap.
The course was an exciting mix of slippery grassy switchbacks on the windswept heath, narrow woodland singletrack and unforgiving sections of deep, energy-sapping sand, two of which were combined with a short, sharp, unrideable climb to really punish the legs.
The wind and the sand were both big factors on the day, but I think the rain that arrived as the race started was the element that really worked in my favour, as my mud tyres started to bite into the slick corners, enabling me to pull out a good lead as the race progressed.
I’ve been in this position before, only to lose my lead to mechanical failure, so I didn’t relax until the chequered flag was in sight, finally crossing the line 30 seconds clear of my HGT teammate, Ben Lewis.
Two more races – all still to play for. Watch this space!
Thanks to Oskar Scarsbrook for the photo.
NB: I am proud to be the recipient of the Joe Waller Memorial Trophy as winner of this race. Joe was a talented local cyclocross rider who died in a car crash near Broome in December 2004. This race is now dedicated to his memory.