Sunday, 20 January 2013

End of the season

As I write this I probably should be working warm up balm into my legs getting prep'd for the final round of the North West CX League. But I'm not. I'd never planned to race the final round & even though a good ride there would possibly push me further up the overall standings, I've switched off mentally & started thinking about the upcoming season. And it's a bit grim out. That might sound a bit lame, but it's been a great season for me with a good bit of progression.

My last post took us up to the round 4 of the series with an uncharacteristically awesome ride, where I took 3rd on the day. Here's a brief run through the rest of the season's races I made it to...

RACE: Yorkshire Points, Brighouse
RESULT: 5th
I'd had to miss the next two NW races, but not wanting to waste this strange run of form I dragged myself along to Brighouse. Nice to race on a course new to me, against some new faces & catch up with a few folks. Pretty brutal course with two horrible long run/crawl ups, rewarded with techy descents. Had a good battle with some guys at the front end of the race, getting the better of a couple of guys on the final descent, breaking away to finish 5th.

RACE: NWCCA 7, ST Helens
RESULT: 7th
It rained all week, making the going extra tough for a race held in an already boggy field in St Helens. Another big run up cut the course in half with some nice fast trails in the first half of the lap and proper sloggy sections in the other which ended up quicker to run than ride. Managed 7th in that one.

RACE: NWCCA 8, Geoff Bewley Memorial, Otterspool Park
RESULT: 20th
And then the wheels fell off. I usually like this race. It always gets a great quality turn out and usually delivers a killer course. But I left my legs in the van. Started fast (even led for a short while) but then dropped back. Whenever anyone came past I had no response and kept losing place throughout the whole race. Ended up 20th. Not great, but I put it down to an off-day. Surely I can't lose form that quickly.

RACE NWCCA 9, Horwich
RESULT: 12th
Back on track, but hindered by equipment. The running theme of wet races continued which as a one bike racer, didn't help me. Once again my start was good. Felt comfortable riding up in 3rd/4th spot, attacked out of corners, rode fast down the big (for cross) descents & even coped with the long run up ok. But as the bike clogged up, got tonnes heavier, the gears stopped working, I inevitably slowed up. Others around me were switching bikes and nailing it away from me. I know a bad workman blames his tools, but I finished 12th although my legs were good enough for 6th.

RACE: NWCCA 10, Stadt Moers
RESULT: 7th
Wet again! Really wet though so less issues with clogging. More issues with finding traction. Ended up running my tyres so low in order to get traction that it came at the expense of the ability to steer properly with tyres flopping about all over the place. Massive fun though, not had as much fun in a race in years. Finished 7th with a big grin.

RACE: NWCCA 11, Rhyll
RESULT: 4th
Wales is in the North West, right? I shouldn't pick at the geography as I achieved my second best result of the season there. An interesting course mixing up long tarmac stretches with some good tight off-road turns & soul destroying quagmire-like fields. For once a poor start meant I missed the front of the race & rode the entire thing on my own. Strong throughout though & managed 4th.

RACE: NWCCA 12, Clitheroe
RESULT: 14th
This didn't go well. I was on a two day long hangover after work's Xmas do. Drinking til the wee small hours, then not managing to eat anything much the next day meant the tank was pretty low to start with. There was an indication of form for the first lap (was running in 4/5th spot), then I ran out of gas & crept round the rest of the race. 14th - should've stayed in bed.

RACE: NWCCA 13, Maccesfield Supacross
RESULT: 15th
Supacross always gets a top class turn out. Its proximity to the National Champs guarantees a quality field. In the past I've never got on well here. Its proximity to Christmas usually guarantees I've given my liver a hefty battering. Not this year though. Finishing 15th was actually a cracking result bearing in mind who turned up. Lined up with the likes of Paul Oldham, Dave Fletcher & Nick Craig puts it into perspective. I beat all of them off the line too. I've come to accept that over half a lap I'm pretty much as quick as anyone in the country. It's the other 55minutes I've got to work on.

So overall that left me 7th overall. If had bothered going to the final round the best case scenario would move me up one place. Likewise, the worst case would only see me dropping one place too. That's not really the point. I've ridden better again this year, the league has been more competitive too. I've had loads of close racing with some good guys & had a laugh (most of the time).

Time to getting plotting a race schedule for the Spring & Summer.

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