Wessex CX Round 2

Whilst the hard people were heading off to the #3pcx challenge today, I was heading off to Swindon. To a golf course no less!

Before you get your hopes up that I’ve given up cycling and taken up golf, I have to tell you that the golf course is decommissioned and I went to cyclocross instead.

LCCA didn’t have a round this weekend, so I planned to combine seeing my parents, with a cx race. It’s still less than a year ago that I started racing, and I need all the experience I can get.

So, whilst I would have preferred to be in Yorkshire cheering on Keith Murray, Scott Chalmers, Scot Easter and Emma Osenton, I found myself moseying around a nicely technical grass course.

The other part of the reason I like the Wessex league, is that it so friendly. With the likes of Caroline Stewart, Chris Macleod and Graham Robins there, they make you feel more than welcome.

Caroline rode a recce lap at my pace with me, and I quickly identified one corner that I found tricky. Just one mind. Off camber, 180° right hander going downhill. Why I’m having problems with exactly the same type of bend two races in a row, I don’t know!

Very, very glad to be riding Continental CX Race tyres. With a course that had such a decent covering of grass, even when the heavens opened briefly, it didn’t properly cut up. Sure there were some damp, squidgy grass, but it was merely suicidily slippery. Not muddy as such.

It took me a while to get into the race. And looking at my lap times, my last lap was fastest again! I need the experience more than anything. Different courses, terrain, and people. I found it a huge learning curve today. Eventually winning the battle at the back with another girl.

The only problem I had was faceplanting over my bars on the second lap. Not entirely sure how I ended up on the floor – but hey ho!


I didn’t enjoy the first lap. But by the second I was back in that love/hate relationship. I love the course. I love riding cx. I dislike that I’m such a novice and so slow. I love the friendliness.

It’s not easy not having the experience or background of years in and around cycling clubs, road races and cross.

#keepsmiling

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London CX Team Champs

Finding out the night before that there was no entry on the day was a bit of a downer. Although there had been an odd message or two that suggested there was an outside chance of joining in with the fun, so a decision to rock up with the two bikes turned out to be the right one.

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Dave Spragg suggested joining in with the Kingston Wheelers composite team, as they only had three riders; Matt, Tim and Jumpei. So I took a leap into the unknown (not having met my teamies before), and signed up.

Despite problems with registering the tags, I thoroughly approve of Crawley Wheelers event. Probably because I got there early enough to avoid the huge queues!

A warm up lap made me well aware of the sections that might prove tricky. The first section into the woods was the only one I’d thought might get tricky, but didn’t. The others; Tree Root Central Part One, Death Drop Slide, Slippy Hill, Brake Hard Corner (they spray painted that on the track!) MTB dip, Woodchip Mud, Tree Root Central Part Two all had their fair share of spills!

As they called us to line up, I discovered I couldn’t find any of my team mates (I’d met Matt by then), so hung around wave 2 until I saw Barry Hyde (another lovely Wheeler in a different team). His suggestion to stay in wave 2, was probably the right one, Matt eventually showed and started in wave 3, Jumpei in wave 1 I think.

Then a completely nuts start. As everyone; Seniors, Vets and Juniors, Male and Female, all started together. Jumping on Barry’s wheel was the best thing I did, following him until the sheer press of people made it impossible to stay there. I think I did ok on the first lap, riding Death Drop Slide was impossible as there was just too many people.

However, as the press of people thinned out, it didn’t actually get much easier. I decided to stay on the Kinesis as the mud wasn’t sticking too much. 2nd lap was harder, I totally blew up after riding Death Drop Slide and had to run a couple of sections, which helped me get my breath back a bit. I walked/jogged Slippy Hill, as the first of the guys started coming passed me – one of them even complimenting my gorgeous ‘anodised red’ (orange) Giro’s (the most ridiculously comfortable shoes ever – and of a colour even Scott Chalmers would approve of!) The course was chopping up by then, and I had a couple of worrying moments at Tree Route Central Part Two. I did admittedly snap at a few vets and seniors, four of which didn’t call a line, and hit my front wheel when chopping in front of me.

Quite a few people racing actually called out with various ‘Go on Elz,’ ‘Keep going Elz,’ etc, it’s a right boost to be honest, half the time I have no idea who you are though!

Which cheeky fucker told me to stop chatting?!?!!

Brake Hard Corner had a few people off in front of me, and I was far too cautious riding down to it, thought I did ok, then rode a bit too hard into MTB dip – and completely face planted. I’m assuming Jon Baines has a hilarious picture of me rolling in the mud!

A decision to change bikes on the third lap was good/bad/neutral. The Colnago is quite different to ride, a bigger frame and different geometry, but hell is it pretty! I was tired by the fourth lap, and a couple of silly mistakes almost, ALMOST had me down, but I managed to stay fairly upright and still attached to the bike.

And I’m fairly certain I was smiling still when I crossed the finish line! I really enjoyed it, such a great community of people out there.

Massive thanks to the Kingston Wheelers, especially Toria pitting for all of us today, Dave Spragg and Barry Hyde. All of you have really helped me find a bit of faith in myself, and get more confident!

Super to see all the Brixton Cycles girls, David Barnaville (good to actually meet you, rather than brief phone conversations with Saddleback) Jody & Stu  and the various others that said hello.

#keepsmiling

 

 

Ordinary People, No Princesses

I can’t help but love the group rides that Toria ‘organises’ and leads. Always get a good mix of people, and nearly always someone new to join in. Mostly Kingston Wheelers (bloody great group of people that I’ve met so far), and the odd one like me that hangs on the edges every now and then.

Saturday was no different. 10.am Market Square meet in Kingston. Even the mental group chat gave no clue who might be turning up (or going to the dark side on the ‘other’ ride that didn’t happen! Ahem). As one by one people arrived, I started to think of them in the same terms as SurLaJante does, although at least one already got given a nickname a couple of Wednesdays ago. Electro is the first to roll up, followed by the Mountain Goat and Deutschland. A couple of newbies (to me), SG and finally Sorry I’m Late – SiL. Actually my fault, I rang her to see where we were meeting at 09.50, when she was just exiting Richmond Park. More to my surprise that she actually answered her phone…

The above nicknames are in jest only. Toria calls out roughly where we are heading, Brockham, via Epsom and Headley, Cake stop at Denbies and back via Cobham then Claygate.

I’ve ridden with Toria, Simon, Steph and Mark before, all good wheels to follow, so I don’t have much hesitation in starting off near the front. Kingston, and Portsmouth road isn’t great to ride along as a group, and it’s a lot easier if we are tightly knit. Sadly to start with, we are not. Calls for soft pedalling, or my more strident ‘Slow it down!’ (ironically not for my sake, despite suffering with a really crap cold). We wend our way through the back of Surbiton (SG punctures), Chessington (SG punctures again and calls it a day), a bit of Hook, and then the back of Epsom. The Mountain Goat keeps getting in front of me, muttering about mudguards, then talk turns to what objects we point out on the road. I’m of the opinion you should be able to ride your bike over a flush drain cover/small bump on a straight dry road without wobbling madly to one side screaming ‘drain’ whilst dramatically stabbing your finger at a point several feet behind you. And honestly, your bike will go over it without falling apart. Yes, yes, point taken when flying around the bend before the drag up to Langley Vale, I get to yell over my shoulder ‘DRAIN ON THE INSIDE!’ And then ride the hill a lot easier than I should have done.

Deutschland and the Mountain Goat are a fair bit quicker up hills, and so when the Mountain Goat drops his chain near Headley, I manage to mumble something along the lines of ‘see… next… junction’ whilst trying to breathe. I think he knew what I meant. When he takes off from Headley, I manage to stay with him. Consistantly picking the pace up and up, and I’m very aware that I’m not feeling great, but I love a bit of competition. Thankfully when it starts going downhill, my weight holds a much superior advantage and I descend Pebbles nearly as fast as I can (I’ve come very close to coming off there once!), all the way to the level crossing, where luckily I see the queue of traffic before I slam into it. Gleefully I call to the Mountain Goat as he arrives, and we snake our way to the front, soon to be joined by the rest. Setting off again, the group is more gelled, although I find a few times that us two on the front have gone a bit too fast, and have to constantly remind myself (and the Mountain Goat) to slow down. Electro is never too far behind, but one of the new girls was getting dropped every now and then.

I sympathise, knowing how fecking awful it feels to be the one out the back, not quite being able to stay on wheels and a bit nervy of the boisterous banter that flys around.

On the way to Denbies, Deutschland decides to leave us and head off, leaving me doing a solo sprint for the cafe. Just because I felt like it. Good cake and coffee. A water bottle refill, because I’m discovering I sweat three times as much with a cold, and we hit the climb out the back of Denbies. I bloody hate the climb, and riding a 11 -25 isn’t particularly helpful. Onwards, onwards. I get dropped pretty quick after that, literally feeling the energy drain out of my legs. I have half an energy bar, and within 5  mins, I’m ok. This time.

I’ve figured before that I have to fuel about every 40mins on these rides. And without the Garmin (both mounts are on the cx bikes), I’m riding on feel.

I find myself mostly on the front with either the Mountain Goat, Electro or SiL on the way back, having to slow the pace quite a bit every now and then. But it doesn’t matter. I’m very concious of getting carried away with the pace, and it’s not fair if you’re on the edge of your reserves, like I suspect at least one person is.

I call it a day in Claygate, and head home. Clean the road bike (Trek 5500, running Conti 4000s, and a gorgeously comfy Prologo Nago Evo test saddle), and attempt to get some stuff ready for cx.

Luckily for the Mountain Goat, there wasn’t too much crap getting kicked up from the road, I got more on my face sat behind Electro… princesses and mud an all that 😉

 

Sunday was a rush to get ready and leave for Abingdon, Dalton Barracks (Wessex League, Round 14), near where I grew up in Oxfordshire. Toria is once again pitting for me, Verity is there, and I’m really happy to be lining up with Caroline CSC Coaching.

A quick sign on, some mild panic and we go and recce a lap after the Novice race. A nice little bendy bit after the tarmac start/finish, onto slightly muddy hardcore, another longer hardcore muddy straight with a big dip, some rocky but flattish stuff, then onto soft squishy mud, quick up and down off camber dips and back and forward, longer grassier section, onto tarmac, back onto more of a rollercoaster up and down section (I love riding this on lap 3 & 4), claggy mud through most of the width of all of the course. Big uphill, rideable at speed, but I run it, ‘jump’ on at the top, down, past the pits, tarmac and tight turns, long straight, mud, hurdles, spiral of doom (riding this is ace!) and onto the finish straight.

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I’m much more confidant with Caroline there, more relaxed in the line up and great to follow her through most of the first lap, before I start dropping off. I eventually do most of the race on my own. It’s hot down the far end on the two long straights. But I can get some speed up there. I get lapped by a few, doesn’t matter. Mum and Dad are there cheering me. Chris Macleod talking me into the hurdles. It’s hard, tough, and despite everything, I’m managing to look for better lines, thinking how to plan stuff coming up ahead. Discarding Plan A when someone shouts out their line. Hitting a couple of stakes. Staying upright and forcing the bike over. ‘Come on Elz’ From Fran as she rockets past me in hot pursuit of another rider. Bell lap. One more. Faster on the tarmac, faster up and over the hardcore track, push. Run up that one incline, back on, not clipped in. I can hear my mates shouting me. Push. Pedal harder. Hurdles. Spiral of doom. Tarmac, crank it up faster, faster, sprint. Try not to die.

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The four photo’s above are from the lovely Graham Robins – thank you!

Honestly I couldn’t do this without my friends. But I could have done it better without a cold!

Thanks for the first set of pic’s Verity!

#keepsmiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long weekend of cycling

I made it to Canary Wharf for the last 10 laps or so. Then promptly ran the wrong way to meet @HollyAJennings and Dan (I mean I ran the entire course) whilst trying to watch the racing and failing..

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Great to see @teamukyouth win again, they’ve taken over from Endura as my ‘fave’ Elite team!

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Anyway, we went off for a drink at the Cat and Canary (not a bad pub and not too pricey!) where we met up with the other Holly and Matt (thanks for lending me the ‘famous’ @vulpinecc jacket Matt!).

Then we headed back up to some other bar. Nice to breifly meet Stuart and Darren! Even if I do get introduced by my twitter name #fail #fame.

Yeah. I missed the last train home so had to get a mini cab. But it was worth it, great evening and excellent company!

Then for the Nocturne on Saturday. Just about got up there in time to meet up with Kara (one of my livesavers in Pau last year!) and then a quick (ha very slow) walk around most of the course to try and catch up with @rozjones. It was heaving with people everywhere!

Then to watch the womens race. I cheered Helen Wyman, Lucy Garner and the Matrix Prendas girls from the start.

Time for some wine. Thanks for suggesting Smiths (you know who you are)! Ran into a few people I knew and in all honesty didn’t see much of the mens race!

Only when they started taking the barriers downs did I walk over and finally talk to @ds_stef! And admired Lucy Garners bike

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And laughed at @CXHelen on the bike

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Massive thanks to Kara who dragged me onto the right train! And apologies to Ian Bibby for the awful photo Kara took 😉

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And finally…

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The lonely road

Hopefully in a weeks time I will have at least some of my stuff packed. In reality I probably won’t.
Moving is a hassle. No doubt about it. Previously it’s been a few minutes down the road. Then half an hour or so. This time it’s a few hours (depending on traffic).

Don’t worry! I hear you say. Yeah. We’ll keep in contact! Highly unlikely. Come for a visit! Er, with the hours I’ll be working? Not likely.

Still I have my friends, the ones who helped me get through that shitty ordeal in France. The ones who say actually you did well riding that (mere) seven miles on your bike. The ones who told me to get out of where I am because it’s bringing me down.

Those friends have existed through social media. Without some of you I would not have had the strength to do this. I would not have had a place to bounce ideas around. I wouldn’t have met some great people.

I worry too much. I know that. I know some of you think me a fool! Lol, more fool you.

Some of you will read this from a Facebook link. Most likely you think you know me. Most likely you don’t. If you mattered to me I would contact you. If I mattered to you, oh yeah I don’t.

To those who read this from Twitter, thank you for your support. It has been invaluable.

I can’t wait to get out on my bike down there. Dorking Cycle Club, in their emails, has been most helpful and welcoming. Still I expect I will be riding alone for a while!

And I must not forget Ma. I know mum reads my blog on occasion (slightly embarrassing and filed under please dont say anything!!) so again I want to say how supportive and loving they have both been.

Suppose I should say I’ll be living near my brother, but to him I’m just a silly little sister…

That’s all for now…

Addicted to bikes

As much as I love road racing I caught a bit of Cross Vegas last year. This piqued my interest in cyclocross. But having been so busy in the winter last year and still a newbie to the biking scene, I had pretty much forgotten about it until this year when i saw (via Twitter) that Cross Vegas was on again.

I managed to watch some of it via YouTube. Then started realising that some of my fave tweeps (Twitter people that I follow/ follow me) have a go at ‘cross as well. And some of them are fairly new to it as well!

This led to me asking the twitterverse if there is anything around here (Basingstoke). Not for me to have a go at (although if you would like to give me a ‘cross bike and kit… and a lift to the nearest event I would do!). I would just like to go and watch… Or help out at.

Thanks to a couple of replies I have found out a bit more. HargrovesRT do some although not much within driving distance (petrol to expensive!!!) except for an event in December in the War Memorial park in B’stoke.

Best of all I found out that i might be able to go to Rapha Super Cross in London on 28th October. Now that’s more like it!

As for today, hopefully I’ll be testing my dhb winter tights out shortly as I go to cheer my friend Fran Roberts on in the B’stoke half marathon!! 

Garmin Ride Out

A quick post from my phone. Whilst i’m not a complete bag of nerves, i am worried about how slow i’ll be! 50miles as well… The furthest i have tackled was 41 on my first Twitter Ladies Cake Club ride! I’ve found a couple of people from Twitter who are also doing the ride.

So i had better go eat some porridge although eating at this time of day usually makes me feel a bit ill!

I’ll blog later if Im not too tired!

Ciao 🙂