Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Temple Newsam CX- Yorkshire Points Round 5

After the hype and success from the Three Peaks Cyclocross, it was time to continue with the 'regular' cross season. That means no more 20 minute bone rattling descents or miles and miles of hike a bike; which sounds good to many, who swear never to do the peaks again, but quite sad to me, having to wait another year for one of my favourite events. A lot of people say that the three peaks ruins your cyclocross season, but for many, like me, the three peaks is the pinnacle of the season; anything that comes after is a bonus.

The first race for me after the peaks, was Round 5 of the Yorkshire Points series, which was held at Temple Newsam, Leeds. With some pains still in my legs, from the peaks, and after a few celebratory drinks the night before, I knew I wouldn't be on complete top form coming into the race. But for me, there was little pressure and I was going to enjoy the race, letting it take its own course. I knew better results would come later in the season, with more specific training.

I really enjoyed the course at Temple Newsam. It was a mixture of technical woodland riding, which I was suited to with my MTB background, hard relentless climbs and some very interestingly placed hurdles, straight after a steep and slippy downhill hairpin. Despite the rain earlier on in the week, there was very little mud, and corners were only slightly greasy. Also, for October, it was a very sunny day; so spirits were high and there was a big turnout for competitors.

After a practice lap, finding some great lines around some of the rooty corners in the woods, and then my usual turbo warmup, it was time to race.

The start loop took full use of the main playing field, resulting in us being very strung out by the time we entered the woods for the first time. Despite a fast tempo being set at the start, I managed to be in with the mix, among the top 10. We hit the woods and I managed to move up a places with one of my rehearsed lines. The tempo remained high, but I was able to stay glued to the wheel of Simon Maudsley for the first lap.

Feeling pretty fresh early on in the race
Especially with my form coming into the race, all seemed too good. So, right on key, I started loosing grasp and began to slip backwards through the field. For the next few laps, I slipped back past Benny Pygott, Jiri Klecket, Ben Cooper and local race mate, Dave Morris. I had popped and I even felt like retiring. Eventually, I found myself in a group of three, myself included, and I managed to keep in touch with them.

About to negotiate the hurdles in that group of three

I stayed with this group for a couple of laps, enabling myself to recharge and recover from my early efforts in the race. So, batteries recharged, I decided to make an effort and try to drop the group. I knew that I had some strength in running, from the peaks, so I thought it best to make an effort at the hurdles. I went into the section at the front of the group and sprinted over the hurdles and up the bank. This, partnered with a quick remount and further effort, gave me a good gap on the two riders I was with, and I was away. I felt ok, and set to work clawing back at the next rider in sight, Simon Maudsley.

Remounting after the hurdles

The gap between me and Simon became smaller and smaller over the course of one lap, and as we approached the end of the lap I decided to make one more huge effort to bridge the remaining gap. I have no idea how what happened next came about, but it was almost as if I had switched on 'beast mode'. Just as I was coming up to make contact with Simon, with my legs and lungs really suffering, something in my brain said "keep going", and so I did. I sprinted past Simon and on into the woods.

Although this gave me something quite cool to talk about after the race, it did cause problems following on from it during the race. For when my 'beast mode' did come to and end, I felt pretty dizzy and definitely felt the effects of it. I made a few mistakes on relatively easy corners, and Simon closed the gap I had created. And so, with two laps to go, it was me and Simon together, with Benny Pygott, the next rider in front, not too far ahead.

For the majority of the penultimate lap, I stayed with Simon, each of us taking our turn and sharing the work load. But when we reach the hurdles, where the course loops back on itself, I was able to see that the gap to Benny had come down considerably.

Emerging from the woods on Simon's wheel
With just over one lap to go, I dug deep again and made another big effort while negotiating the hurdles.

I managed to get a couple of bike lengths on Simon, but I was really hurting. Benny wasn't too far up ahead, but I knew he'd seen me and was pushing hard too. From the pits, my dad shouted the amount of seconds I was behind Benny; it was coming down, which really spurred me on.

The whole of the last lap was a hard solo effort by myself, trying to catch Benny. But towards the end of the lap, and indeed the race, I realised I was not going to make up the few seconds that separated us. Nevertheless, I pushed hard all the way to line- Simon still wasn't far behind.

I finished the race as 11th place Senior, which, considering my pre-race form and huge efforts early on, I thought was pretty good. I had pushed myself to the limit, and I felt satisfied with my efforts after the race. It has given me some encouragement for the rest of the season, and also for Portugal, where I will be competing for Great Britain in one of the mountainbike orienteering world cups this weekend.

I would like to thank my dad for supporting me in the pits for my race, which I appreciate considering the fact that he was juggling it with commissairing the race also, my mum and Claire Crabtree for providing some great (and some unflattering) photos and, also, to cxmagazine.com for supporting me with kit and advice. It's worth checking out cyclo cross magazine, it's a great read and contains everything you can think of about the sport. From tips for beginners to commenting on the world's best, it's got it. Check it out here cxmagazine.com/subscribe. And if you fancy subscribing, drop me a message (details on the contact page) and I can send you a discount code for 20% off your purchase.

My next race will be this friday, which is the middle distance at the World MTBO Cup in Portugal. A race report will follow, so keep an eye on my blog.

Until then, happy riding

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