Callendar Park - Sunday 20th October
It's a bit late but the recent flurry of posts on here reminded me to finish this one.
Callendar Park was one of my favourite rounds last year when it was held in glorious sunshine. This year the never-ending rain in the lead up promised to deliver a dramatically different course to last year's super fast track.
Given the forecast I was surprised to wake up to sunshine in East Lothian. The outlook for the day improved further when Alex Robertson tweeted a photo of a bright early morning in Callendar Park.
The other big difference from last year was the size of the field. There were 89 riders in the open race this year, a dramatic increase from the 56 who took the start last year. Cyclocross seems to have grown significantly in Scotland this season. I'm not sure if this is down to a 'Dig In' effect or is just a reflection of the increased popularity of cycling in the UK.
Riding the course before the vets race I was surprised at how well it was holding up. I was impressed with the changes that Franco and Dave had made to an already good course. Given the conditions I was happy to see that the big off-camber right hander had been replaced by something more friendly. This course seems to be the closest we have to a modern euro-style course and was quite a contrast to the previous round.
For some reason I found it harder than usual to get motivated for the start of the race. My rollers didn't leave the car and I spent most of the vets race spectating and chatting. A few minutes warm up in the park and it was time to head to the start. Starting from the third row I got off to a great start but quickly found myself boxed in with nowhere to go. After taking it steady in the traffic I went through the start line in about 20th place.
It was slightly chaotic as we rounded the tree at the top of the short run up. Having decided that it would be quicker and safer to run it I promptly slipped on a tree root. My first thought as I hit the ground was that there were about 70 riders behind me and one of them was sure to run over me. I lost a few places as I got back to my feet but my bike and I were both in one piece.
I then spent the next few laps in a small group which slowly split up. Suddenly I caught up with Addy who had just fallen. In a repeat of Auchentoshan I spent the rest of the race trying to get up to him. On the one occasion I got close I couldn't clip in and by the time I had got my foot back in I had dropped back.
The rest of my race was spent trying to hold off the group of riders just behind me and trying not to dab my feet to avoid a repeat of the pedal problems. I'm sure it was possible to fall off on almost every corner so this was easier said than done. Because of the slippy conditions I found it hard to get in to a pattern in this race. All of the slow corners followed by acceleration meant that I couldn't identify sections to get my press on or to recover.
Grant Ferguson passed me towards the end of the last lap which saved me from another lap and I rolled in 23rd. I was initially slightly dissapointed to miss the top 20 but looking at the names above me I realised it was a good result. I felt even better when I discovered that points are being awarded to the top 30 this year.
Thanks to the organisers of a great event and well done to all of the 388 riders who pinned a number on. See you at Knockburn.