First cross race today around the infield and surrounding estate of the splendid Herne Hill velodrome in South London, in the mighty Belgian colours. HH is a legacy of the 1948 Olympics and given that it is still used by hundreds of riders every week it has to be one of the best value legacy sites of the Olympic movement. Unfortunately it is under threat and so the venue has an uncertain future.
I digress. My first cross race, first single speed race. Finished 106th out of 148 starters. And, er, second in the singlespeed category. A few points I learned from this:
1. singlespeed for a relatively flat course is a not a disadvantage - quite a few riders headed into steep sections and tried to flick down their gears too quickly. A bit a crunching and cursing. With a single gear that's not a concern.
2. It isn't the full-on first lap that was the issue, but the last. Whether it was a lack of food, fitness or both but the last lap was hell. Grass sucks energy and momentum and I got very close to packing. The pain in my legs was worse than anything I recall from my road racing days. Must eat more cake.
3. 'Cross riders are very polite; riders who lapped the field pleased and thanked their way through as I darted into the odd bush/gravel pit/hedge to give them their line. A bit of Corrinthian spirit, chaps.
4. A bit of time mastering the technique of getting back on after a dismount would seem in order. Hopping off postman style most people could accomplish but there was a certain amount of inelegant stopping and time wasted getting back up to pace afterwards. On long grass with one gear that's extra pain that isn't needed.
5. Picking a good line on tight singel track is vital, several times I took corners too wide or I was hesitant. If in doubt just blast through it full-on, sort of.
But in all a superb turnout, fantastic weather, top notch organisation. So what's all the fuss about mud then?
Race report will be posted on http://www.londoncyclesport.com/ with a gallery in the next few days. I have absolutely no idea what happened or who won. http://www.cross-crazy.com/ is a related 'cross site that may be of interest, albeit from that London.