Friday, October 19, 2007

Racing Malarkey

After a beautiful walk on Saturday afternoon and one hell of a cold night, Sunday morning in Grassington dawned beautiful, cold and sunny in the Yorkshire Dales. We didn't have any matches so had to make do with breakfast coffee from the campsite machine (how often does that happen) despite me trying to bargain to lend a bloke our cups if he leant us his matches.

At the start of the race I was wearing two layers of Merino wool. By the time I had been running in the sunshine for 10 minutes the first layer came off and I continued the run with my jumper tied round my waist.

Curly-wurly sheep

A slight navigational error sent us from feeling smug that only we had found the right path to realising everyone else was right about the check-point being on the other side of the waterfall. A precarious slide down the muddy bank got us our 20 points.

Short of being proud of 2 hours of running with only minor pain (worth the two weeks prep in the gym), the run was otherwise unexciting - no mountain passes this time.

Into transition and the very sweaty wool baselayer was exchanged for a thin and flimsy thermal and a joyous three hours of sunkissed sweeping trails and grizzly but rideable climbs laid out ahead of us. Another missed turn took us out to checkpoint number 2 (thankfully only-just-noticed) at the extreme of the course for a measly 15 points, bringing us home to the finish line only two minutes late but woefully short of the 40-point checkpoint within 2 miles of the finish. That and the hoard of other riders who had shown up to play-on-the-day on account of the 3 Peaks being cancelled this year stuck us 2/3 of the way down the field. However, Team Pamplemouse is now lying glorious 10th on the podium for the series. We shall see what November brings.

The cyclo-cross season in the Eastern Region has gone downhill since the first event. Quality of competitors has been consistent but the courses have degenerated to the level of cat-and-mouse chases around fields with no more than a few punishing, gruelling, sharp climbs to make life difficult and force the less-strong amongst us to actually get off our bikes.

When the biggige (first National Trophy event) came close I realised that, because of international race rules, I could be driving across the expanse of England to compete in an event where I am pulled out after only 30 minutes (if a slower rider is caught by a faster rider on another lap, the slower rider is asked to pull out of the race). Dismayed, I decided to wave goodbye to my entry fee and ride the local event on Saturday instead.

With the main-players saving themselves for the National trophy I stole third place again, only 27 seconds behind Susan - so I have a target. I also decided that I wouldn't let my £18 go to waste and drove to Wiltshire to stay there before completing the journey to Abergaveny on Sunday morning to do the National Trophy anyway. TSK cycled the 70 miles to meet me as I set off around my second lap.

I'm glad I went to Abergaveny. No matter how well I felt I was doing in my own area, it was humbling to pit myself against the best in my class - all 9 of them - and inspiring to be at a professionally organised event complete with petty rules, excellent comentary and proper racers with proper bikes and poncey warm-up techniques - I've never seen so many sets of rollers outside a beauty salon.

I set myself up to chase down the 9th placed lady but watched her pull further and further forward no matter how hard I tried so I grinned at TSK and laughed about how I was losing (that's me at the back on the left in the start-photos). But, in such a small field, I got myself a stack of international racing points (get me!) and £10 prize money which helped with the entry fee.

Last weekend was race-free, which is exactly what I needed after a two-race weekend. The girls came over and we biked around Rutland Water on Saturday at a leisurely pace and ate lunch in the pub then we went out and got shit faced on Saturday night and then everyone felt better except me who felt like shite. I must've finally made it to the status of athlete as I can not longer take a night out till 2 am. A walk around the park on Sunday sent everyone on their way and I started work on the last of the curtains for the Vanu through a drowsy head with much appreciation for my quiet new sewing machine.

Recovered by Tuesday, I have been to the gym twice doing some serious interval training and weights. Every day I have been to work on my bike. I am now a member of the Eastern Ladies' inter-regional team and I am determined not to be the weakest link. This is going to be a fun weekend of racing.

1 comment:

Silver Lining said...

I'm so sorry I missed the girls' weekend :-( Moo didn't even turn up in the end!