The 2016-2017 Cyclocross season started on Sunday. Nathan has decided to give this season of cyclocross a bash and sent in this report. We may get further reports in from Adriana and Dave.

A night of heavy rain, that woke me up several times meant that I was apprehensive about the conditions come Sunday morning for my cyclocross debut at RAF Halton. I chucked my Cannondale in the car, and dragged Louise, and Poppy, my three month old down to support me.

When I got there, the kids races were in full swing with the RAF band giving the occasion a bit of atmosphere. The sheer number of riders racing in throughout the day, and the spectators they brought with them meant it was a well-supported event.

As I’ve not really ridden off road since I was a kid in the mid 90’s, I was unsure how well (or should that be badly?) things would go so I elected to sign up for the novice race. The organisers run the junior race 2 minutes ahead (under 16’s I think?), and the novice mens and novice women’s races at the same time. This meant the start was a little congested and poor planning from me (no gridding for newbies) meant I started right at the very back of 40 riders (31 including me in the mens race, and 9 in the womens).

I managed to overhaul a number of riders on some of the faster sections, where the season of time trialling in my legs paid dividends. I also managed to make up a few places when a couple of riders in front of me had a minor pile up, by jumping off the bike, chucking it over my shoulder and running up the incline they’d come a cropper at.

My bike handling let me down on some of the more technical sections, finding myself losing some time in the twists and turns through the woods. My dismount at the boards also left a lot to be desired.

As I got to the end of the first lap, I heard a friendly shout telling me to sprint and then use the downhill section coming up to recover. It took me a few seconds to process that it was Dave Goodhew, and before I could respond I was past him! Sorry Dave.

Lap two I settled into a rhythm, and was much more relaxed. I had to make quite a big save as I went down one of the inclines a bit too quick and looked destined to get in a tangle with the tape and end up on the floor, but somehow managed to keep upright and clipped in, much to the surprise of three spectators! Once out of the woods I finally got past one of the guys from Hemel that I’d had a long battle with.

The final lap was the most comfortable by far, although I was starting to feel tired, I still seemed to have more than everyone else making up another 5 or so places, finally rolling in to finish 19th place. I think if I’d have been a bit more aware at the start and forced my way to the front, I probably could’ve scored a top 10, the legs were there. Live and learn.

Afterwards, I mooched over to grab a hard earned coffee and a bit of cake, say Hi to Adriana and watch the start of Dave’s race. There must have been in the region of 70-80 riders in this race, which I am sure made it very tough.

Overall, I really enjoyed the day and would encourage anyone to give it a go. Plenty of people took part on mountain bikes, with no obvious disadvantage. Next race is Saturday 1st October at the Bowl, with 5 of us down to race; Myself and John in the novice race at 10.45am, with Dave in vets 40 at 12, Adriana in the womens at 13.02 and Tim in Vets 50 at 13.00.

If you’re free, please do come down and show some support.