Cross at the Castle 2 - 15th December
On Saturday night 50 or so cyclocrossers gathered in the Tobermory's Aros Halls for the now traditional end of season dinner and celeidh. For those that were there I'm sure that the evening's events did more to shape their races than anything that happened on the course on Sunday.
I normally have a pretty healthy appetite after a race so the enormous buffet looked like it would fit the bill. We were the last table to be called up for food. It may just have been because we were furthest away but I suspect the organisers remembered us from previous years. Witnessing the incredible amount that some of our number managed to tuck away confirmed my suspicions (sorry, no names).
The evening's entertainment juxstaposed traditional Scottish country music with the contents of someone's iPod. At one point the DJ moved, not quite seamlessly, from Gangnam Style to a Gay Gordons. An Orcadian Strip The Willow was pretty much the last straw for my already ebbing energy levels.
As the celeidh moved back to disco it became clear that Velo Club Moulin's Simon Muir was intent on taking the top step of the podium on the dance floor. Several songs, and an eceltic range of moves, later it was obvious that he was well clear of the field. I'm sorry to report that my alreay poor style was rendered completely wooden by the presence of Martin Steele's GoPro camera.
Exactly as forecast Sunday morning dawned even windier than Saturday but considerably drier. I continued with an alternative nutritional approach to this weekend by enjoying a slap-up cooked breakfast. A leisurely start saw us arrive in plenty of time and safely parked on the flatest spot for miles, outside Glengorm Castle.
Four VCM riders (Ian, Martin, Simon F, Simon M) were down to ride the newly minted Scottish Singlespeed Cyclocross Championships which formed part of the senior race. After watching the first few laps of the Vets race I headed back to the car for a warmup. Just as I started to set up my rollers the heavens opened. I abandoned the warmup and sat out the rain in the car. There is no doubt that the Vets faced the worst conditions of the day.
The lead up to the race saw most of the field huddled in the cafe until the last possible minute. I wasn't aware of anyone brave, or daft, enough to pre-ride the course. The first two laps felt really hard but once I found a rhythm I started to move up through the field. The course was slightly less exposed and more ridable than Saturday. The hill felt OK on the singlespeed but the field section was pretty brutal thanks to the conditions. As at Lochore Meadows a Challenge Limus clincher on the front worked well in the conditions, a Michelin Mud 2 on the back wasn't nearly as good in the deep mud.
To give an indication how bad the conditions were my unused pit bike which was pushed to and from the pits ended up dirtier than my race bike was at Auchentoshan.
Luckily the wind dropped dramatically and the Oban ferry started running just as a huge number of cyclocrossers were due to leave. Once again we had a great weekend on Mull. Both times the trip has been far more tiring than I imagined. A combination of short days, bad weather and broken bikes has meant that both weekends have flown by. I discovered this year that if you are already tired when you arrive you will be broken by the time you leave.
On that note I'm looking forward to a rest. I've raced 16 cross races this year, 10 since the start of October. I've noticed in the last few that I've been getting slower so I'm planning to take it easy for a while.
Thanks to everyone involved in putting on this event in trying conditions. You all did a great job. A special mention to Davie, Jac, Chris, Steven, Ainsley and everyone's favourite commissaire Guto.
See you all at Dig In.
If anyone has any pictures I can use please get in touch.
How did we do?
Simon M (3rd Vet)
Ian (8th Senior)
Simon F (10th Senior)
Davie (DNF Senior, following a strong start)
Ian (5th Senior, 2nd Singlespeed)
Simon F (7th Senior, 3rd Singlespeed)
Simon M (10th Senior)
Matin (DNF, following a crash)