Its been a great summer for riding bikes, the weather has been more or less pretty warm and pretty dry. This has left me on occasions with the unusual problem of wondering whether I should get out the hose or just the feather duster to clean up my bike!!!!
I’ve been up to a wee variety of things over the summer some racing of a downhill nature as well as some early cyclocross. What’s that cyclocross? In the summer?? Oh yes indeed we’ve been very lucky to have two great summer events on this year which I’ve been able to get involved in.
Summer Cyclocross fun;
Well its not a summer sport usually as cyclocross usually calls for neck deep mud and freezing temperatures but we’re lucky to have the Haughcross up in Fife and then the Supper Cross over at Dalkeith Country park. Now I cannot in anyway to be a particularly accomplished cyclocross rider, my lack of specific training in relation to fitness work is a significant issue!!! Suffice to say my general level of enthusiasm gets me over the yawning chasm in my fitness, so I generally suffer for an hour in an enthusiastic fashion.
Haughcross sadly saw a really small womens field but and it was a great course and a nice sunny day (bit breezy though down by the beach at Aberdour). So with a course that required some pretty reasonable handling skills through some extremely tight corners we set off. There was also the small matter of the “whiskey shortcut” that you could make use of if you wanted to take out a few of those corners!!! Needless to say my lack of drinking experience and requirement to drive home stopped me taking advantage of the whiskey shortcut. So I smashed myself round for an hour all the time very enthusiastically supported by Peigi Series who was shouting and screaming on the
sidelines (thanks for the pictures Peigi). Before I knew it the last lap was called and I pushed on for the line, I crossed the line first women. Now those of you who know me will possibly be just as surprised as I was to make it to the top step of the podium but I was really pleased and even more pleased to see that the other girls who were racing had enjoyed their first cyclocross race and had vowed to do more races.
The Supper cross at Dalkeith was a brilliant course and a great field turned out with supporter turned racer Peigi taking up the new challenge of cyclocross. I have to take some responsibility for persuading her into trying it out and I spent quite a bit of time convincing her it would be fine. Well off went the gun and we set off on a short out lap. We came round to the hurdles on first lap and grabbed some monopoly beer money and headed out for the first lap. Now considering Peigi’s nerves she was was racing like a pro and came past me on the climb and disappeared off up the track, she went on to win the Women Vets category all with a smile on her face for the entire race!!! Good buddy and fellow moutain biker Sarah also cracked on round in her first cx race she was to finish 5th in the end. I was set to take 5th but a final lap puncture saw me not finish the race. I was pretty disappointed as I was quite enjoying myself on what was a great but tough course.
It was back to Innerleithen for round 4 of the Scottish Downhill Association series, the series so far has been excellent with some great courses and this course from the guys at Innerleithen was no different. Wow what a combination of off camber rooty crazieness!!! The top guys and gals put on a fantasic performance and demonstration of how to ride this sort of terrain.
Thanks to Ian Linton for this photo.
It was great to spend some time checking out the course with World Cup rider and Trek Coventry Racings Jess Stone. She gave myself and some of the other girls some fantastic tips on how to tackle specific sections of the course and even coached us through one particularly tricky rooty section. I don’t know if this happens in the mens section but its indicative of the super friendly and supportive environment that exists within the womens ranks of the SDA, seasoned profesionals and ametuers mixing it up on track together and supporting each other to give it our best.
In terms of the racing well I took a bit of time to get my act together on the track as I find the roots and off cambers a wee bit tricky. My first run was clean but not very quick and I found myself in 4th but feeling like I had more to get from the track. Mercifully the forecasted rain didn’t put in an appearance so the track was actually drying out and bedding in as nearly 250 riders had thundered down it. My second run started well with me hitting a couple of lines I’d failed to make earlier. However I made a mistake through a reasonably simple section and found myself hitting a tree, a further front wheel drift and I thought I’d had a shocker!! I pressed on and jumped on the pedals where I could and managed to shave off 10 seconds off my time, putting me into 3rd spot. Unfortuanetly my first SDA podium was not to be as Rachel put in a fantastic run and pipped me by 7 seconds and taking a massive 20 seconds off her first run and leap frogging from 5th to 3rd. All in all it was great fun and a 4th place finish was ok, I was pleased with how I rode parts of the track and got a bit more confidence on some tricky terrain.
Next up for me a week in the sunshine of Mallorca and the Bute Festival of Cycling before taking on the RedBull Foxhunt, check it out at www.redbull.com