Cross season is now drawing to a close, with the last few races for the UK season happening in the next few weeks. This weekend brought with it perhaps one of the tougher of my first season. Being a mountain biker, I take pride in self sufficiency, usually laughing at those guys who lose a stack of time in transition to take out another freshly-washed-tubular-wheel equipped bike.
This weekend however, was perhaps the first race where I have come unstuck due to lack of gear, having to stop far to often to remove the buildup of grass re-enforced mud that had added about 10kg to my bike. Apart from that the riding was actually quite enjoyable – plenty of off camber sections and a rough, tight course which suited me well and was the undoing of many other riders.
Being my first season here in the UK, I get the impression that there are two types of people who are contenders in my local ‘cross league: fit roadie wannabees, and hardcore crossers (ya know, the ones with tubular wheels). The roadies are always a hoot – they can smash it down the back straight, but no one told them that you have to get behind the saddle to descend, or that you have to have grip in order to turn a corner.
This weekend was no exception, with ample off camber sections, and one particular steep chute. The chute (conveniently for mountainbikers) had either a super steep section with a 90 degree bend at the bottom, or could be taken wide with a nice sweeping bend (all massively off camber) – naturally the roadies went wide and all binned it. This, however, was to be my only joy in a massive suffer fest, for the 90 degree corner at the bottom turned onto one kilometre-or-so of flat, where I was outgunned each lap.
At the end of the day, I finished somewhat lower than normal in 40th, and with a much dirtier bike and no means of washing it. It was a combied lack of time on the bike, and lack of gear that lead to it. On the plus side, I did finally manage to execute a running re-mount without nadding (definition two – ed.) myself. The days are now getting shorter, it is definitely time to stop running and get on the bike in order to get ‘bike fit’ again. As for the gear – I’ll just have to bring my own water next time, since outdoor taps and hoses have not made it to Britain yet (let alone first-world plumbing).