Nathan sent in this report of the second round of the Central Cyclocross League. Any other reports would be most welcome!

MK Bowl was the venue for CXL round two, so I decided to ride over as my warm up. When I left the house it was chilly but dry with the sun out and no indication that it would change anytime soon. Pretty much straight after I signed on and picked up my number, that changed and there was a sudden downpour completely changing the conditions.

After a quick warm up ride up and down the concrete track round the bowl and a chat with the family, I wandered over to the start where I met up with John who was also giving the novice race a go.

Keen not to repeat my mistake of starting at the back at Halton I forced my way as far forward as possible, getting onto the front row. This paid off as I was able to open up an early sprint and get myself into third place as we approached the first grassy climb. I made up some more ground here and was breathing down the neck of the guy in second place. We descended down the grassy bank and the course took us through a few tight turns, and back up the side of the bowl, up a steep concrete slope. This was leg sapping, and my back wheel lost some traction when I stood up, so had to climb seated. Still, I held onto the wheel of the man in second and was confident that I could take him once we got into the technical section through the woods, just a downhill right turn to negotiate first.

Obviously, as has been the theme of 2016, I stacked it. A combination of wet grass, and trying too hard to catch my man led to the back wheel sliding out from under me. As I picked the bike up and pushed it down the hill to remount I lost a number of places.

The next three laps consisted mainly of going as hard as possible to try and catch up, but ultimately not being able to. A couple of mistakes with my remount (not being able to clip my foot in first time as my cleats were clogged with mud and wet grass) cost me some more time, and I eventually had to settle in to a long battle for 16th place. I manage to drop the guy battling me at the beginning of the last lap, to secure it but ran out of laps before I could make up the 30 odd second gap on the next two riders ahead off me.

John had a much stronger ride than me, on his very swish “lefty” mountain bike, leading NBRC home with a solid 7th place, mastering the essential skill of staying on your bike, and proving that you don’t need a CX specific bike to be competitive.

It was nice to have a strong NBRC contingent on the day with David Price coming to watch and give some much needed encouragement when I was flagging, and Wayne and Dick helping out with the organising. We also had David Goodhew and Aaron McCaffrey competing in the vets 40-49 category, Tim Bailey in the 50’s category and Adriana in the women’s race.

So to sum up, lessons learned this week included…. 1) Tyre choice (and pressure) is probably the most important thing there is in a cross race. 2) Always take the cautious approach on a slippery descent (unless it’s straight). 3) When you fall off, it doesn’t really hurt. 4) Whether you’re fighting for 1st place or 16th place, it’s still super fun.