My first cross race of the season. Ok the CX season finished weeks ago but I've been ill and grumpy about the price hikes this season.
Luckily enough there's a little Go Ride series supported by Stockton Council that costs a fiver so I'm there seeing as Sunday dinner is less than a mile away afterwards.
Race day dawned and I was up early for the perfect race prep of going to work for a couple of hours then riding over to Preston Park to meet John and await the arrival of the support team.
I'm under no illusion that I'm going to go very well as I've only been back on the bike for a couple of weeks after almost 6 weeks off the bike with various ailments. Plus it's REALLY wet and muddy and I'm riding an overgeared singlespeed with new but not mud CX tyres on.
Lined up on the start line and made my first mistake by assuming that there'd be some keen starters wanting to go for it off the line so I left a gap. 10 seconds to go and I realised that the bloke in front wasn't going to go for it and so I had to rapidly go round him once we were off.
Stand up and stomp and not a lot happened so sitting down and pushing hard was the order of the day. 3rd into the first corner and 2nd out of it but HereComeTheBelgiums was already too far ahead.
First lap went well enough. Slide out on a fast corner. Rode up the very muddy climb. Lost a few places. John was a good distance behind me at the end of this lap which was a bit suprising as he's been running all winter and he normally beats me. (no I haven't done a spreadsheet*, it was 29 seconds)
Second lap was ok with a few more places lost and the main climb became a run* but John still behind me somewhere (ok 13 seconds) and the man who would become the main target was right behind me.
3rd and 4th lap were not good. Starting to suffer the lack of riding coupled with a couple of daft slips and John and Target No1 were together and pulling away from me (18 seconds and then 39 seconds) and all seemed lost.
As lap 4 finished I rapidly passed another rider and assumed I was lapping him but he got on my wheel and decided pulling a pass into the slippy muddy dowhill was a good idea. That lit what was left of the blue touch paper so I chucked the bike into the slippy slope and stuck the left foot out into the bottom corner and hoped the tyres would grip and that was the last I saw of him. Looks like he'd blown big time after 3 decent laps. The rest of the lap went well and I cracked the line on the offcamber mud and it looked like John and Target No1 were closer than before. They were John was about 15 seconds ahead (due to timing chip failure) and Target No1 was right there for the taking.
As the bell lap started I latched onto his back wheel and attacked with as much vigour as I could muster out of corner 2 and again shot down the slippy downhill with as much abandon as possible. Now where was John? He was off and running around the muddy tree to the river section and into the off camber my line still worked and John was off the bike early into the climb and I got within touching distance before I too had to hop off.
Then he ran away from me.
All those park runs paid off at the end. 14th place and 24 seconds down on John 27 seconds up on Target No1.
Happy with that as proved the illness was behind me and something is still there to build on. The support crew mostly hid in the car to watch then I followed them home on the bike to my Mum's birthday.
Support crew did do a good job of cleaning the bike though and then practiced on the cobbles for Paris Roubaix 2030.
*this may be a lie