Cycling Cyclocross Racing

A Very Good Day

Sometime back in the summer of 2018, when I was constructing my training plan for the upcoming cross season, I set myself two goals:

  1. To beat my previous time in the 3 Peaks CX race.
  2. To get on the V40 podium in one or more of the Scottish CX Series races.

Well, I smashed my time in the 3 Peaks race back in September (and narrowly avoided smashing myself and/or my bike, but for the 3 Peaks that’s pretty much par for the course). Also in September, I was first V40 in the women’s race on Bute.

Hanging on to Jaime’s wheel for dear life at the start. Credit: Chris Pendlebury.

So I was only a few weeks into my season and I’d already met both of my goals, hugely surpassing my expectations. So I kept training, wondering if I could rack up any more podiums or if Bute was just a fluke!

I was third V40 at Callendar Park, after a shaky start and getting it very wrong on the off-camber descent. I won again at Lochore Meadows on a fast, flat course that suited me.

I went into the round 4, which was also the Scottish Championships at Fife College, knowing that a medal was within my grasp but also knowing that grasp was tenuous considering the strength of the V40 field! I didn’t manage to clip in straight away at the start, took a few risks trying to get on Roz’s wheel and fell very early in the race, then spent the rest of the race trying to make up the places I had lost, eventually getting into a brilliant battle for third place with Ailsa, Jaime and Sian. I was delighted to get a bronze medal (with Sian only 4 seconds behind me in the end).

I fell off a few seconds later. Credit: Pamela Craig.

This season, the series was split over Christmas, which meant there was then a break while the Superquaich races took place. I have blogged about that series previously.

Round 5 was the final Cross at the Castle on Mull. Conditions were muddy and windy, and I managed second place to Roz. Chris and I unfortunately had to miss the Sunday fancy dress race in order to dash home, as Rory had been rushed to the vets with digestive issues and pain.

Credit: Chris Pendlebury

Rory seemed to be fully recovered by the time we collected him from the vets, but he went downhill again after a couple of days and on the evening of Valentine’s Day, when others were having romantic dinners and whatnot, we had to take him to the Royal Dick Veterinary Hospital in Edinburgh as his liver was, in the words of our vet, “struggling”. It was a tense few days, and with Rory still in the vet hospital I wasn’t sure whether to make the journey up to Banchory for the final round of the series at Knockburn Loch (as we only have the one car).

Ultimately though I knew I had to race. Chris stayed home with the car in case Rory was well enough to come home, and Colin (clubmate, fellow coach and commissaire extraordinaire) gave me a lift up to the race.

I started the race knowing that I had to win or come second in order to win the series in the V40 women’s category. Roz and I had never had a proper, stand-up battle and with the technical aspects of the course I wasn’t confident I could beat her! I made some mistakes on the first lap and fell back to fourth place; I managed to claw my way back to second, and Roz made some mistakes too, so for a couple of laps we were trading the lead, with her usually leading and me in second wheel. It was the race I’d been waiting for all season.

When we went through to take the bell for the final lap I thought about trying to power past on the finishing straight, but decided to sit on her wheel on the drag into the wind that followed soon after. That meant I saved a tiny bit of vital energy and managed to overtake on the leg-sapping climb right after, and held the lead for the rest of the lap.

Credit: Kay Proctor

So a win for the race, and a win for the series! Could it get any better? The answer was yes. I rode around the field that served as a car park until I got a tiny bit of mobile reception, enough to receive a message from Chris that read: “Going to get Rory.”

Home again.

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