Kit in the wash. Shoes on the radiator. Showered. Changed. Bike put away…. oops… (5 minutes later it was!!)
I’ve never given racing cx a proper thought, kinda thinking I might have a go next year. Knowing I’ve only ever had one real coaching session, and that I still haven’t gone for any sessions with Twickenham CC on a Thursday, I never thought even last week I’d be racing my Kinesis in an actual race.
Lining up for the Novice race this morning, I’d forgotten all about being nervous and worried that I hadn’t ridden any of the course, or got my tyre pressure right, or warmed up enough. Some of the men had and most of them had come off at some point. But once I was on the line, nothing really mattered. I could give it a go. See how I got on. Hopefully not make a fool of myself. Luckily Toria had pinned my number on the right way for me earlier!
We watch the Under 16s go. Boys. Then girls. Then it’s our turn. Men and Ladies together. The whistle blows and I get a fairly ok start – soon being overtaken by all but a couple on the grass. It’s obvious fairly quickly that I’m getting left behind. But I keep going. Look for the line around that corner. Try and avoid the worst of the mud. Watch the bumps. Control the bike. Try not to spin out too much. Fast downhill. Overtake someone that had gone off to hard. Watch the off camber.
At not one point do I think of anything but how to approach the next section. Take a tighter line. Get off. Run up, down, over the barrier. Back on. Get away from the two behind me. Heaving for breath because it’s harder than ever I thought it might be. Spinning out behind again. Get off. Jog. Come on. I can do this. Back on. Smile at Toria shouting support. Round the corner. Foot out. Ride. No. Run. Top of the off camber hill. Oh. How do I do this? Get on with it FFS. Relax, dont tense. Can’t ride? Run. Back on the bike.
Tarmac. A few cheers and the bell. Words of support. Bounce the back end of the bike to knock sone mud off. Catch up the guy in front. Get up that hill. Flat. Faster. Bumps. More lumps. Go go go. Need a drink. No water. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Find that good line. Go. Run. Let the bike drift wide to avoid the mud. Overtake and get away from the next guy. Off camber. Run. Back on. Faster. Catch breath. Need a drink. Really am gasping. No stopping. Where is everyone? A couple of under 16s have passed me. Muddy mud mud. Run. Crap section. On bike quickly. Jump off. Run. Off camber. Spinning out badly. Should’ve gone higher. Cheers. Checkered flag? Oh. Finish.
So tired. Need water. Lots of well dones. Toria. Need water….
I’ve loved every second of that. So ridiculously unfit. But powerful. Maybe a little too much. Need to sit back a bit going uphill with my weight forward. Maybe a little less air in the tyres. Running has helped. I drink most of one bottle of water.
Wondering where Toria has disappeared to – I find her in the pits (I barely noticed them on the way round) with the Kingston Wheelers. I get some of the mud hosed off (thanks Barry!) and we watch as some of the Vets go around.
Dave Spragg (KW) snaps his rear mech, but luckily has a spare bike in the pits.
We go to leave, and I see a familiar person. Bruce Dalton is carrying two bikes over. I offer myself and Toria to pit for him after we grab some food.
A wander down to the start, where I see Harriet Owen, and take both jackets for Bruce and Barry.
Then back to the pits. The KW lot are great and we have a right banter. Bruce is miles ahead and shouts for his bike as he approachs. Toria catches the muddy one and we set to work.
Matt helps us scrape and pull the worst off, and the three of us get as much as we can off – borrowing the KW jet wash to try and get the last few bits out of the jockey wheels and rear mech.
And repeat. And repeat. And repeat… Every lap Bruce is a bit further ahead. And we’re having a great banter in the pits.
Suddenly it’s quieter and the race has finished….
I get my bike blasted clean by Bruce – who nearly forgets to go to the podium. It’s his first Senior win and I’m really chuffed for my mate!
Oh. Did I mention. I won the women’s Novice race (no podium etc though!)
It was mad. But I absolutely loved every single second of it. And I wonder where the next one is?!
Thanks to Toria especially. And the Wheelers. And Bruce for talking me into getting a cx bike in the first place. Guys/Girls – you are all brilliant, thank you!!!