[Report by David Furlong]
(Photo by Paul Barry)
I haven’t done any racing this year and keen not to let a blank year pass (since I did my first tri in 2006) i was looking around for a new challenge. I’ve always fancied giving cyclocross a go, and when I spotted the Fixx Supercross Cup series I thought, here’s my chance. A 5 round series with 1 race per month starting this month, in easily accessible places (1 hrs drive) and family friendly venues sounded just the job.
So I stripped down my yellow TT machine, bought a frame and a few bits, and hey presto €500 later we have this mean machine (PJ: remember those stickers?)
So what is cyclocross? Basically its a form of bike racing over a short (5-10min) lap on grass, gravel, sand. A typical course has real tight turns, hurdles that you have to hop off your bike and jump and usually a steep slope or bank that you have to run up carrying your bike. Races are usually 45min-1hr long and flat out from gun to tape! An hour in hell! It’s also the national sport of those hardy Belgians. Bikes are similar to road bikes except the frames have better clearance for fatter tyres and mud, different brakes and are usually a little higher off the ground
Thankfully for my debut it was dry.. i’m sure there will be lots of wet races ahead! So my goal was to finish, and not be lapped! I was in the B race which is for A3/A4 (road) riders. There was also an A race for A1/A2 riders. I was hoping there would be a few mtbers as well to keep me company…I had done some good training over the last few weeks (albeit with a dodgy back) but had no idea really what the standard would be like
So off I went with my two lads and a bell in tow. A handy 45 min drive to Grange Castle in glorious sunshine. 5 secs to sign on and a few practice laps – a nice lap with all the above features.
So the start, looking around there was a few mtbers I recognised and lots of shaved legs – a 300m sprint up a road to a 90deg bend on gravel! Scary.. thankfully no-one came down. Then off we go into the red-mist – trying to hold my own, the roadies killing me on the straight sections, making up a few places at the hurdles and run ups. really close racing. Any lapse in concentration and there’s half dozen lads up your inside. HR in the heavens – everytime I looked down it seemed to be in the 170’s (max 184). No point in trying to get it down. After a few laps the field starts to thin out and time to glance nervously around to make sure theres still a few behind me! Thankfully there was!
7 laps later and 55 mins and it’s over. Mission accomplished, stayed upright and wasn’t lapped. Even had a few behind me..
Have to say it was really enjoyable, hard but enjoyable. Great to be back racing. Not sure i’ve ever done a race like that with such a hard sustained effort. Even in the mtb there’s usually a few spots to take a breather. It was an eye opener how quick those A3/A4’s are in a straight line. The racing was really close with lots of riders close together most of the time.
For the next I need to
a) get fitter
b) learn to concentrate when I’m fooked (not easy) and
c) learn to ride around sharp turns without braking
I’m already looking forward to the next race in Bray on 20th October. If anyone is interested in joining me I can be found in the old golflinks (behind the FCJ) on Saturday afternoons honing my skills…
Thanks to my two lads David and Niall for keeping me company and cheering me on (David at end of first lap: “Dad you’re not last!)
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