Adrenaline, alcohol and love make you say and do (or at least promise to) some pretty daft stuff. Just think about how this trinity of influences has changed the direction of your life over the years, for better or worse. Maybe the scars on your body are the result of amorous encounters but it’s more likely they’re from crashing bikes or doing bonkers stuff on the way home from the pub.
Ever laid broken on the ground wishing you could turn the clock back 30 seconds and re-think that line, gap or move? Course you have. In the Dirt Magazine feature about the Rapha Supercross event that was my CX baptism I made a finish-line claim about entering more races and said as much to Mike Rose, Dirt’s editor, on the ‘phone between hasty gulps of restorative air. True to my word I’ve since endured two other races and can’t blame it on booze, so I guess it’s either love or adrenaline that’s kept me driving to taped off bits of field on cold, wet winter days with a big smile on my face.
The last Jake Diary was all about keeping busy in Steve McQueen’s ‘waiting room’ and how matter where you live you can get a proper buzz on a CX bike because they’ve eschewed (except for disc brakes) the evolution that took the Klunker on its journey from Mount Tamalpais to the brutality of the current World Cup DH circuit. But despite the waiting being fun there’s really only one thing, in my mind, that a CX bike is made for: racing. I’ve raced BMX, DH, Enduro, 4X and Cycle Speedway and all are brutal in ways only the initiated can understand but CX combines that brutality with a fair bit of on-track comedy banter that has me laughing as much as I’m pedalling.
I was too knackered to notice it at the Rapha event but at Round 9 of the London X League (londonxleague.co.uk) my second and much less glam’ race, at the brilliantly named Gunpowder Park in Essex it dawned on me. With last lap smug confidence I was sizing up a pack of roadies as we entered a small descent into off-camber hairpin when number 189 (Jamie Bishop), a veteran of DH and 4X I’d been battling with since the start hammered the lot of us off the brakes, claiming my line and forcing me into the tape as he bellowed ’do they still call that a t-bone in 4X?’ My kind of racing! There can’t be many Round 9 riders who wouldn’t choose ‘muddy’ as the adjective du jour but I’m quickly learning that whilst inclement conditions might kill attendance at a DH race it’s just how it goes in CX; after all, you don’t go surfing and expect to stay dry. But even this doesn’t dampen the comedy and it exposes the sinister side of the CX racer and how the ever present mud can be turned to into an advantage. The marshall at the start / finish asked us to call out our muddied, unreadable numbers each lap and I heard people (half) joking about giving the numbers of their long gone rivals’ just to cause a bit of chaos in the results spreadsheet.
Photo credit: www.DaveHayward.com