Velo Club Moulin

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Irvine Beach

Scottish Cyclocross Championships - 6th December 2015

Photo by Martin Steele

My 2015 cross season hasn't exactly gone to plan. 

I gave the early season races a miss so that I could race a block of road races to build some speed.  That part of the plan worked well and I arrived on the start line at Callendar Park feeling confident.  That's unusual for me but I genuinely felt that I was in shape to get a good result.  Everything changed in the first lap and to some extent those 6 minutes shaped my entire season.

I got a reasonable start but within half a lap it was obvious that something was up, I was unable to ride with any intensity and when I tried I was finding it hard to breathe.  I held out some hope that as the race went on I would get going and hoped that it would be a long race to give me a chance to move up.  Instead I slipped further back as the race wore on and I was left puzzled by what had just happened.

The next morning I woke up feeling awful which was a relief.  After 10 days off the bike I jumped on the rollers with enthusiam but a 30 minute session made it obvious that a trip to Knockburn was out of the question.  This was the low point of my season, Knockburn is one of my favourite courses and it's a great roadtrip.  With hindsight I probably should have made the trip as a spectator but at the time I just wanted to pretend that cross didn't exist.

A trip to the doctors revealed that I was suffering from a respiratory tract infection and led to some more time off the bike.  I raced, or maybe I should say rode Stratchclyde Park.  It was great to catch up with friends but it was obvious I still wasn't 100%.  I thought I was going to have to pack it after the first lap but I managed to find a level that I could sustain for an hour.  Another 18 days with only one ride and I finally started to feel like myself again.

The upside was that I was over the illness in time for the champs at Irvine, my favorite course.  The downside was that I had only been on my bike a handful of times since Callendar Park.  A couple of turbo sessions in the week before weren't pretty but it was great to be able to ride again.

My lack of racing and form meant that I felt a surprising lack of nerves on the start line at Irvine which maybe explains my rubbish start.  I spent the first few corners going backwards before we got to the climb and I started to move back through the field.  Irvine is always a brilliant course but Neil Walker outdid himself this year.  Extremely wet weather in the lead up to the race meant that the course had a different character to normal.  Sand is normally the dominant feature of Irvine but the compact wet sand was much easier to ride than in previous years.  I really liked the new sand pit which was cleverly placed so that you could attack it and recover before hitting the dunes.  The off-camber sections were slick and interesting to ride, especially after a hail shower and the muddy big dipper was more of a challenge to ride than it is in dry conditions.

The nature of the course meant that it rewarded clean riding which I really enjoyed.  My one mistake of the day came when I got over confident on the off-camber section after the big dipper and I found myself sliding on my back through the tape.  A steady ride over this fantastic course left me falling back in love with cross. 

A big thank you to Scott Kerr and his team.  Irvine really is a special event and they raised the level again this year.

A good turnout by VCM but how did we do?

Maddy Robinson 4th (Senior Female)
Katie Newlands 12th (Senior Female)

Ainsley Wood 6th (Vet Female)
Elisa Smith 10th (Vet Female)

Colin Shearer 6th (Vet 50+)

Simon Muir 41st (Vet Male)
Chris Marquis 43rd (Vet Male)
Davie Graham 54th (Vet Male)
Martin Steele 55th (Vet Male)

Steven Turbitt 17th (Senior Male)
Simon Fairfull 25th (Senior Male)
Gareth Jones DNF (Senior Male)

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