It seems strange to suddenly return to talking about the wintry pursuit of ‘cross racing, now it appears that spring has sprung but, for the sake of documenting Belgian activities, it’s important and better late than never I guess.
To start with, I was born in Ilkley and, as a home coming gig so to speak I wanted Ilkley CCs first cyclocross event to be good – really good - and a success. I think, as a whole, they achieved this. In addition, it was a close venue to me geographically, and I could utilise public transport to the race, ultimately allowing me the luxury of utilising the mobile bar post race too. Double bonus.
The course lap, in and around the buildings and grounds of the Nell Bank Activity Centre, seemed a touch short, and included a rather long tarmaced road climb, but was overall varied enough, and also included some carpeted sections. Yes carpet! This is Ilkley after all. The absolutely Baltically freezing conditions meant a completely frozen lap – at least during the Vets race - and the lower sections, where evidence of former mud could be seen, were rock solid and very rutted and rough. I dare say if these sections had remained mud, then it would have proved a more enjoyable lap. Another section presented the racer with 2No. railway sleepers across the course, but these could quite easily ridden, and the whole lap could, therefore, be completed without unclipping.
As far as my race was concerned, all the blood sweat and tears excreted from my body, battling Chris (WYPCC) through both the Summer and Winter Series’, had finally reached a dramatic climax on this the last race of the season. Talk about excitement? At our previous outing, at Todmorden, I’d luckily come out on top, and drawn level, and we now stood at seven wins* apiece. Ilkley was THE decider and THE eagerly anticipated showdown!!
To cut a long story short I managed it! I don’t know how but I rode to finish ahead of Chris and take the overall honours with an 8-7 victory. All credit to Chris who rode flawlessly through the Summer Series and Winter Series and pushed me to breaking point on a number of occasions. However, I think with this race being ‘Ilkley’ it played into my hands some what and I just ‘tried harder’ - any other day on any other course the win would have gone to Chris I’m sure.
Photos courtesy of Jo Allen. More here.
* When I say ‘wins’ it refers to one of us beating the other in the race – not that we actually won anything J