One way or another, I was going to Todmorden Cyclo-Cross.
The original plan was to do what I normally do, and take pictures. I packed my cameras and related things as usual.
My lad Tom was coming to race so we packed his bike and race wear too.
I wasn't planning on riding. I've done little on the bike recently, and the prospect of finishing as tail end charlie didn't really appeal. Still James said there was room for my bike in the car as well, so I chucked it in along with my shiny new HcTB top, which till yesterday had not been worn in a race.
I assisted in laying out the course, and was quickly lured by it's mix of off camber grass, the cobbled climb and what surely must be a fast swoopy descent through the woods.
Tom and I marshalled the first race of the day at the foot of the cobbles, and I guess it was then I decided I'd have to enter, if only to see if I could get up those cobbles in the saddle.
Tom raced his socks of in the under 8s and came away with a prize bag of sweeties. (Picture courtesy of Steve Makin.)
The vets and ladies were next and along with a large number of others I lined up for the start. Taking a respectful position near the back.
The siren went, and we were off. Race fit or not I was passing people as we headed across the field. On to the off camber grass I continued riding in a sort of speedway style with my rear tyre a foot further down the slope than my front wheel. So far so good.
As I approached the bottom of the cobbled climb, I slowed to a track stand awaiting the riding line round the corner. Once negotiated I was riding up those cobbles. Traction was marginal, and torque had to be finely controlled. Several times I thought I wasn't going to make it as the rear tyre slipped away. Each time though a guy behind who I guess was also still riding shouted something which spurred me through the temporary loss of momentum. Cheers from my mates shouting "Go on Rich" were fuel too. As I crested the climb I felt good. It was a race, and I had just passed a load of people. Yeah.
In oxygen debt partly from shouting "Rider" whilst climbing the cobbles, I let the bike roll down the hill avoiding the brakes to pass a few more before completing the first lap. I was full of confidence. Knowing that if I carried on as I had on the first lap, that whilst I wouldn't be challenging for the top spots, I would finish, I guess up in the top half of the field. All good.
(Pic courtesy of Jon Wyatt)
Heading round the field to the woods I passed a couple more riders and then into the woods. Then a familiar clatter followed by a skidding rear tyre meant only one thing. Derraileur spoke interface.
Yes, It's happened before, so I knew that by bending a couple of things (steel frames rock) and I'd be under way again. And so it was. Except not for very long. As I approached the cobbles for a second time, moving the derraileur back up the cassette, there was an encore. Except that this time it was terminal. Said derraileur was now pointing 180 degrees in the wrong direction, and the hanger was mangled. A lap and a half, and my race was over. Gutted.
Well not really. I had an ace day out and saw load of friends I haven't seen for ages. In fact that many, that other than shooting some video I didn't take any pictures at all.
Postscript - Thankfully with some large tools and brute force I have fixed the hanger. Though the mech has had to be permanently retired.
See you on the start line at the Three Peaks.