If you read nothing more of my ramblings, read this..."Cross is Awesome, and even if you have to beg, borrow, temporarily misappropriate or ask Father Christmas for a cross bike, then do it and come and join in the fun. No experience required"
I decided to get a cross bike mainly to do some gravel rides to prolong my road season once the weather turns and the roads get slippery. The decision to race CX came about only 4 weeks ago when I realized how much i have enjoyed road racing this year and there were no more races until next April. My competitive juices have been well and truly flowing this year and i can't get enough of it! So cross racing happened, and today I spent 45 minutes of my life looking exactly like this (albeit in a v. cool skin suit)....
In M3/E4 BCC was well represented by "Big Bad Bruce" Day, "Judge Jody" Brown, "Peppy Paul" VD, Jason "Hipster Jesus" Simmons and yours truly. We were also represented by "Pistol Pat" Biegalski, but he's all ripped and fit so has to race in M2. Jake was representing Cycle Solutions, but we love Jakey, so there are some pics of him here too.
Essentially this particular race was like a slippery grass crit with some wood chip piles, barriers, trees and 65 blokes on bikes to contend with. The race lasts 40 minutes, which doesn't sound like much but I can tell you that it is quite long enough, thanks very much. The start line was much more jovial than a road race with a few gags being thrown around, and to be honest not really any nerves on my part. The cross scene is definitely less highly strung than the road scene
So, the race starts, and the first minute is essentially all about pedalling like you just stole your bike, getting your heart rate to near arrhythmic levels. The next 39 minutes is all about keeping it there, and not falling off. There are some really tight turns where braking skill and balance are key. A great place to overtake, and then there are also the long straights, where a bit of extra power comes into play for moving up the field. There are the barriers to jump. Getting off your bike is easy at the start but when fatigue sets in it can be a bit more challenging than you would think. The big difference with a cross race is that it is laps, where you can see the riders multiple times on each lap from eth same vantage point We had great support as always with the lovely Alexx, Lovely Trish and Lovely(?)Dan cheering us on. All photo credits on this blog are to Trish who has taken some stunning action shots and really captured the day.
I started near the back, being my first CX race, not wanting to get into a pickle at the front, but half a lap in I realized that I could actually make some ground in this field. I had an awesome duel with Andre Gaulin (Ex-BCC) where he would take me on the technical bits and I would get him on the straights. Our duel got us really moving through the field together picking off loads of other riders. We went back and forward like this for about 30 of the 40 minutes. Luckily I had enough gas in the tank to take him with a burst on the last lap and get some distance and pip him by 10 seconds at the end. When we finished I looked at my Garmin which showed an average heart rate over 43 minutes of 171, which is preposterous considering that my highest average ever is 156, and I barely reach 170 when going full gas up Brimley. Dan helpfully pointed out that all this means is that i don't ride hard enough normally !!
BCC Showed really well at this race. Very proud of all our boys! Big Bad Bruce played a blinder and scored a well deserved 3rd place podium!!!! I came in 9th (M3), Jesus was 16th (E4), Judge was 18th (E4) and Peppy was 42nd (M3). I summary I am not sure I have ever had so much fun on a bike, and was more excitable than after 3 large vodka red-bulls. I would encourage any of you who are thinking of having a crack at cross to do so immediately.
I now call upon my stable mates to comment below to tell us of their perspective on the day!