Formed in June 09, Here Come the Belgians is a non-elite anti-team celebrating all things cross, cobbled and Belgian.
Seeking a different experience to the traditional cycling club, its aim is to harness the energy of a vibrant internet cycling community with grass roots racing and riding based around Cyclocross and Spring Classics. There is no race programme in the style of a racing team, more a collection of individual experiences through rides and racing, in whatever location a member may be, that all can share in and contribute toward.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Central CXL Round 4 Zappi's Oxford

If  it's wet, sandy and you can hear  opera and hip-hop booming out of the PA you know you've turned up for another Zappi's cyclo cross race. This is my third outing to the Culham park venue, and I'm hoping to do better than other past visits. I was telling people I needed a bit of luck, but the honest truth is that I needed to prepare properly for this race. It's the hill, it gets me every time. last year the 25 tooth cassette was useless, so I went mad and fitted a 27 tooth one, went for a warm up and still couldn't ride it. So it's not luck I needed, it's more teeth and less belly. still I was in good company as the hill seemed to attract a fair few ramblers.
However as they say in football 'it's a game of two half's' and Zappi's is a race of two half's. One half flat good draining turf on a sandy soil base. And the other half up down off camber muddy sandy hillside. I know which half I prefer.
So to the racing. I've been gridded again on the front row which is always good, though as I look about me I can see that all these guys can beat me, no pressure. We get the usual 15 seconds to go, a quick check of the cleats and we're sent off. I've realised that it's not best to be the first man so I settle into fourth. That's fine until we hit the first small climb and I find it quite easy to move up. I'm now in second place behind Chris McCleod so far so good. Next is the big drop before 'the climb' I take a silly risk on the descent to be first on the climb, but as soon as I dismount for the run I'm overtaken in numbers. At the top the chase starts, I'm desperate not to lose any more places so I push a gear that takes me outside of my comfort zone, but I'm solo and I can't catch the bunch up the road. I riding pretty well, but everyone is very close, my mind can't make itself up, do I chase or avoid capture? I'm at the hill again, this time the only man to pass me is the eventual winner Simon Tottle who just glides by as if he is out for a Sunday pootle.
At this point I'm just doing my best, a few guys go past and I hope they're in the younger vets race. If I can see someone up ahead I just try to catch them, it's all got a bit messy by now. The hill is demoralizing me, and I'm cursing Keith and his Trisports team mates for having 'running' legs. And to top it off I can see that my long term foe is making ground on me.
Ding ding ding, sometimes that's a very welcoming sound. I've still got the hill to do, but I don't want to be lapped before I get a chance to get the bell myself. So an effort is put in on the hill, and I fall into the drops for the flat section that follows. I've got the lap so I give it all I've got and pass a rider under the nose of the DJ who encourages me on. The last lap always feels good and with the PA blaring out 'Here come the Belgians.....nice one' it soon passes, I even feel a bit guilty passing the lady rider just before the line.I've come in, in sixth place again. And my race mate for the day Andrew Martin racing in East Grinstead colours has come in in eighth place in the vets race. We're both happy, but a bit of variation in results wouldn't go amiss.
Going home

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