So I had my first real exposure to Cyclocross today – not riding it of course just going along to have a look. I’ll be honest it’s not something I know anything about but when I heard that a couple of Tweeps (@accidentobizaro – rider 119 below and @24Tom – below in the orange garage bike kit) were racing a few miles from where I live and where I sometimes take out the old hardtail I thought it would be a great opportunity to go and have a look. What I discovered was a seemingly secret world of great people and fun times. I say secret because you have to know where it’s taking place and even though I knew roughly where the racing was I still drove past the entrance several times before I spotted some CX bikes on a roof rack and followed them ! A field of cars, bikes, good coffee and bonhomie then opened up before me and I was pretty surprised by the amount of people of every age getting ready to race. It was clearly a close knit crowd with many of the people there knowing each other and shouting out greetings while people were dotted round warming up and trying out the course. The course itself was hard to make out for a newbie comprising of taped off sections looping their way around the field before vanishing off into the woods, but I slowly got my bearings before watching the young ones strut their stuff. They were great to watch, everyone from tiny ones who could barely ride to others blinged out on their Ridley’s and Hopes who’d have given the snail from South Wales a clean pair of heals and make no mistake. All seemed to be having a great time and that was what I noticed most about pretty much all the riders, no matter what the age and no matter how tough it was they all seemed to be having a good time.
Following up were the women and vets (which if I ever have a go would be what I would be riding in) and the cowbells were out to cheer on @accidentobizaro. She has been writing a great blog on the challenges of learning to get to grips with CX riding which you can read more of here and it was great to watch a newbie to the sport having a go – and making a dam fine job of it and providing me with plenty of inspiration. I must admit that I loved all the bikes, not having ridden a drop bar for many years they looked great fun, sturdy and throwabout and perhaps closer in some ways to my hardtail that pure skinny roadies. Anyway I suffered greatly from bike envy and decided that I want one !
The problem with the vet category for me looking on were these guys were by and large tough, whippet thin, gnarly Yorkshire folk with years of riding behind them and I’m none of that ! but I guess you’ve got to start somewhere. The course itself looked very interesting, much of which I thought yep I could ride that but there was a seriously tricky looking descent into the woods that I would have struggled with and a hill out of them that was incredibly steep. I saw a handful ride up it which was no mean feat but the majority shouldered or pushed their bikes up. The other bit that took me by surprise were the obstacles put in to make you jump off your bike to run over them or if you were seriously good, and there were some who were, you bunny hopped them ! In general I was incredibly impressed by the handling and fitness of everyone involved but more importantly that everyone appeared to be a friendly crowd (whether that is the reality out on the course I don’t know). I’m tempted though, I’ve never raced anything in my life but I fancy trying to get fit enough to have a go at this, I won’t be racing just trying to survive and get round but next season get the cowbells out – the snail will be on his way.