It is been a good summer by and large. For me this is the off season as the cyclocross season is where I compete. Every year the long days provide ample opportunity for quality training, however every year these days seem to evaporate all too soon and the season starts with training objective yet to be completed. No point dwelling on this though.
For the Eastern League, at least, the 2016-17 season opened last week with a double header weekend. Such is the popularity of the sport that for several weekends there are races on both Saturday and Sunday.
The first was at the Redbridge Cycle Centre, aka Hog Hill; inevitably the race is known as ‘Hogenburg’. A savage course more suited to being tackled with a mountain bike than a glorified road machine. The ground was baked hard and lumpy providing a challenging surface; the gradient being a big factor in the remaining challenge. I was keen to avoid using clincher tyres as pinch flats were a very real danger so tubs it was, this proved to be a good choice as I didn’t puncture. I did crash though but all in all it was a good day finishing ahead of my rivals.
Sunday’s race was in Chelmsford. Springfields is a generally flat course and the ground was again super hard. I was keen to use file threads at high pressure - the ideal combination for clinchers. It also was the first race on my new bike; a very handsome Trek Boone paired with Bontgrager’s CX0 tyres. Despite being flat the race was hard; an extra stress factor being the heat; a new rule prevents any handing up of drinks. Again a good race for me and the bike was a real boon to my riding.
Today’s race headed to Colchester for the first of two visits to St Helena School. This first event being promoted by Amis Velo. This is a bit of a Marmite course with some racers loving it and others not so. The race is characterised by two areas of woodland separated by heath. A long lap is possible here with some difficult climbs and technical sections. Again I was riding my Boone, this time fitted with the gears I will use for the 3 Peaks Cyclocross, so a ‘ridiculously low bottom gear’. Clearly too low for normal CX racing but today I could climb the killer hill with dismounting, the Bontgrager CX3s holding grip despite being pumped up hard. Not a great day for me overall as I faded badly about half way in the race only to watch my adversaries ride away. Only the third race in the series so time to recover.
I will miss next week’s competition as I head north for the glorious 3 Peaks Cyclocross which covers the famous Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales. A fantastic event attracting riders from a far away as USA, France and, er, Hertfordshire.