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.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Ilkley Charity CX and North of England Championships

Well I think it's official - I'm getting slower!  To be fair, the realisation has been creeping up on me for a while, but I've essentially chosen to ignore the fact and bury my had in the sand.  So... why?  Well, a number of factors have contributed over the last couple of years, but I guess the main two are:  Family/new babies, resulting in lack of miles basically, oh and sleep and life in general, and a free and easy attitude to eating and drinking equalling weight gain!  Probably weak excuses I know...

Pleased with my new frame but silly slippy down seat post spoilt my day a tad

Yesterdays North of England Championships in York really emphasised my current lack of any fitness, and was allied to a lack of machine prep! Although excited by the purchase of a new frame, some frantic last minute and late night spannering and corner cutting, in order to get the new whip ready, produced an untested, and perhaps less than race ready, machine!  Lap one, and the partly botched cost cutting wrong sized seat post, and I think wrong sized shim, slipped drastically! My saddle ended up on top of the cross bar and swivelling about!  Pedalling away with my knees under my chin and bum wiggling in the breeze was a killer!  It didn't really matter because I was already drifting off the back of the rather rapid pack due to the aforementioned total lack of ability!  I suppose in retrospect I should have popped into the pits - I'm sure someone would have lent me an Allen Key - but I didn't, so plodded away to the end, burning thighs and all.  I didn't really have anyone to race, so not really much to report on that front, but it was a nice little circuit non the less, on the typical York geology soft to firm brown 'is it sand, is it clay, is it silt' glacial deposits - not very muddy really.  And of course the Here Come the Belgian crowd are always on hand for a chat, make you laugh, comfort and generally cheer you up, so not all was lost.

Photos here.

Prior to the North of England Champs, it was Ilkley Charity Cross:

And, following a gap year, it returned with a BANG!

Chris Parker and I dish out a tri-podding
master class
As a home coming race, it's pretty sweet.  And as I stood in the field adjacent to the Outdoor Pool, I could gaze up at the town and more or less see where I was born, where I lived and played, where I went to school, where I worked, etc.  I was very lucky to grow up in Ilkley and it filled me with pride.  And also, glancing over my shoulder at Middleton Woods, I could reminisce my early cycling days.  Days of hammering the woods on Raleigh Grifters and Burners was how I spent a lot of my childhood.  Happy days.

As opposed to the also excellent previous Ilkley CX, which was held just down the road at Nell Bank, the grounds of the Outdoor Pool and adjacent cricket pitch and woods provided far more scope for a decent and varied lap.  The organisers made full of their opportunity and utilised all the all the terrain available to create an almost 'old school' course, with some rather demanding sectors within the woods.  Logs, streams, bogs, unridable assents, it had it all.


Great Team enjoying a well deserved Leffe.
My race was a steady plod.  The vicious climb was a brilliant feature but was too much in my current state, and knocked the wind out of me every lap. Garmin/Strava say I'm pretty much trying may hardest, with the likes of 75% at threshold and 25% anaerobic being the kind of figures I'm achieving - I don't know if that's good or bad - but I don't feel like I can go much faster during a race.  However, post race, I seem fine. No aches or pain - essentially I don't feel spent?  Again, having the team around me is great. Very supportive and encouraging during these feeling sorry for myself times. So, a massive overhaul needed I feel - try to get back on track....  I seem to remember saying that in a Blog last year.  TUT!

Photos here.

Thanks to Jo Allen for the majority of the photos.

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