Welsh Cyclocross 2018 – Round 3 Aberystwyth
That was a tough race. Round 3 of the Cyclocross series for 2018 and it was my local event in Aberystwyth. That should mean a nice easy weekend, no long drives and good preparation. What I hadn’t counted on was a 7 hour hike the day before taking in some of the tougher peaks of Snowdonia. Saturday therefore involved a 4 hour round trip drive, loads of climbing and more importantly a tough descent from the Glyderau. All of this would probably take its toll and my legs wouldn’t really be up to the task of an all-out CX race.
At least I didn’t have to make too much of an early start, so left the house at 9:30am for the quick drive into Aberystwyth. Once signed on and changed I went out for a spin around the parts of the course that weren’t being used for the junior races. It was clear from the start that this would be both tricky and tough in equal measure. There were some difficult off camber cambers which I was having trouble with, the section of switchbacks that weaved its way all over the hill seemed to go on forever with each one having a little rise to sap the energy. The grass was relatively dry so at least traction was generally good. Good as far as cyclocross is concerned that is, in most people’s book that would be a distinct lack of traction for anything involving two wheels!
The far end of the course had some slogs up grassy climbs too, and there were some tricky off camber bits as well. I didn’t get to ride the steep banks and drops until the final practise lap before our race. From what I’d seen though it didn’t look like a course that was suited to me and I would struggle with all the technical twists and turns. My legs didn’t feel too bad though considering in the mountain ‘preparation’ of the previous day.
We then lined up ready for the start. As noted by Ant on the grid, I was closer to the front than I should be thanks to a good showing in the first two races. That should be a good thing but it’s also a little intimidating!
The whistle went and we were off. I got a little bogged down on the start and was in the wrong gear so loads of people went streaming past me. I then got crowded on the first bend and lost loads more places. Not the best of starts and this was compounded by a distinct lack of oompf once I did finally try to get some power down to make up for it. After yesterdays’ exertions, there was just nothing in my legs. I thought they had felt OK, but that was until I actually asked them to produce some power. I wanted to give more and go harder but the power just wasn’t there. I could see the likes of Ant and Richie already way ahead of me, but there was nothing I could do to catch them. The gaps gradually opened out as I lost ground to them lap after lap.
On the plus side, the tricky sections seemed to be much easier at race pace. I had more grip and more flow than I expected and as the laps went by was able to attack these sections more and more. People were still overtaking me though and I was losing places most of the way through.
I had a sudden surge of energy from somewhere in the penultimate lap and regained quite a few places. I flew past Nick, lapping him in the process as I climbed the steep bank.
I then surprised Des as I overtook him at the far end of the course. He had overtaken me earlier in the race and had been gradually pulling away from me but my sudden spurt closed down the gap, regained my place from him and then opened out a gap in my favour between us. There were a few hold ups here and there for crashes but nothing too bad. I held on pushing hard for the final lap just about holding off a late challenge from Des to keep him behind me.
Here’s a quick couple of clips of me in ‘action’ thanks to Steve who was filming from the sidelines.
The lack of power in my legs had meant that it wasn’t the greatest of races for me but as usual it had been good fun with some good races within races to be had. The performance may not have been there, but the fun was. I was pleased with my handling of the technical bits too so there’ll be no complaints from me.
The course was a tough one but as always Ystwyth CC put on a good show and it was nice to see lots of local familiar faces there either racing or marshalling. It took a while to get away as there were so many people to chat to but at least it was only a 20 minute drive home.
I think I may have lost a few places in the standings after that one so no doubt I’ll be back in my rightful place in the start gird for next weeks race. It may be a good idea if I try not to get involved in anything too adventurous or strenuous as preparation for next weeks race!