Dave Goodhew's latest Cyclocross report:

Saturday 14th November

Desborough Leisure Centre was the location of this week’s race. From the car parking location very little of the course could be seen. From riding a warm up lap we could enjoy the very steep off camber descent into what was a gully of mud. Despite the look of the course and its length all was rideable……just. I got taken out on the first corner got up quickly and grumbled about losing all those places, managed to crash out two or three times more; especially towards the end as the rain started to fall and course became slippery. Tim came in 18th which is good in such testing conditions; I finished in 34th with my arch nemesis Ian Marshall piping me by two seconds, don’t want to be a carrot on a stick every race!

Weather conditions were good for the Veteran riders compared to later where it was a true mud bath with lots of running and slip ups. My tyres were so flat they were clacking on rocks deep in the mud, despite the low pressures sometimes grip just goes on you suddenly and you are off.

Thanks to Kettering CC and all helpers for a testing and fun course.

Here's Tim Bailey's report:

 

The forecast wet weather arrived later than expected, so the Junior/Vet’s 40-49 race started with no rain falling on an already soft course. Riders assembled for the customary lecture from race Comms about the importance of forthright communication in the race, but warned of potential penalties if a poor phrasing was used within earshot of children. Gridding saw the riders lined up in tightly packed rows. Shivering and waiting for the sprint for the first corner I was placed on the second row, a good position. A small field of juniors were off first, then a minute or so later the throng of Vet racers started their race, swarming for the first corner, a tricky drop down into sharp left hand turn.

My two lap recce of the long course saw me furiously attempting to clear my bike of crud five minutes before gridding, wondering if it would make it without a major mechanical and fussing about my tyre pressures. Closer to an MTB circuit than the usual cx course, it had plenty of variety. It was going to be a fun prospect dealing with slippery grass cambers, woodland quagmire and trails, rutted fields, slick descents and even a sand trap, all at full gas. The efforts required for racing cyclocross are broadly similar to the demands of a time trial. Pacing is very important, the ability to ride at the tipping point of your threshold exertion without blowing is fundamental. But aside of the physical demands it is also the most technically challenging discipline. Cyclocross is time trialling in a world where the law of physics can abruptly become unreliable. Imagine arriving at the roundabout for the turn and the front wheel of your TT bike suddenly appears to behaving like a pizza encircled by a furious snake. The strangest thing about it? It’s so much fun.

The race underway, I had made a good start and was running in a fairly tightly bunched top ten, having negotiated the trickiest parts of the first lap without too much effort, my new FMB super mud tyres were performing beautifully (I seemed to have got the pressures right) and I hadn’t gone too deep into the red. I was feeling better than last week and a change of setup had done a fair bit to alleviate my back pain. I was keeping an eye on the riders in front, riding hard but within myself, biding my time. On the second lap I kicked and passed a couple of riders but made a complete hash of the woodland quagmire, a poor choice of line saw me drift out into deep sludge and bog down, losing the places I had taken. Having to extricate myself from the mire, where I had almost come to a standstill, cost me a fair bit of time and a lot of energy as I had to give it some beans to get out without a messy dismount. Chasing as best I could, more little mistakes cost me further time and places. A minor miscalculation in cross will see you skidding through a tape barrier on your arse/face and then having to scramble up a slope to retrieve your bike and get going again while the inevitable gang of spectators may offer some much needed encouragement (people do like to congregate where there is a good chance of seeing a spectacular off). The last couple of laps my back pain flared and I started to just do enough to consolidate my position, getting tired means you make more mistakes and I made a fair few, making sure that no children were in earshot, I marked each one with a choice phrase. On the bell lap, passing back markers I was aware of a having a strong rider bearing down on me for position, after entertaining the idea of not fighting and letting him catch me, I thought better of it and gave it a last heave. I gambled on dismounting and running a very slippery, treacherous camber close to the finish (where I had crashed out the previous two laps-sliding out of the course and costing a fair bit of time). Having made it round this section a quick glance over my shoulder on remounting confirmed I could maintain the gap to the finish. I was a little disappointed by scraping a top 20 finish, but it was still a big improvement on the previous week where I was totally out of sorts.

After the next round (#9 Henley CC-it’s miles away!) there is a break of a couple of weeks before following race. All being well my back will improve (it’s an old injury and it tends to come and go) and I can try and get some more top 10 finishes before the end of the season.

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