Having complained about thinkgs not being muddy enough for my cyclocross preferences all the first part of the season, the muddy conditions have finally come. It’s been a mixed blessing though. I certainly haven’t had things all my own way.
The first decent brown dowsing of the season came last weekend at the Lakes RC race in Brockhole, Windermere. After a really lovely pride-gushing time watching Lily and her cousin Angus showing their grit and detewrmination around the muddy under 12s race, I had no warm-up and went straight into the start of the race feeling all the better for it somehow. Got myself going really quickly and despite the slogging round and running a good deal of the course, I enjoyed the tussle of man against fluid earth. Whilst Rob (Jebb) literally ploughed his own furrow around the course, I was battling with Barrie Clarke for second for most of the race. After a flat tyre ended that particular battle, I looked to be happily settling for third when my rear gear mechanism got sucked into the wheel and I had a long, long run to the pits on the final lap. With that, I lost a (relatively) valuable podium spot, but such is life – it had been a good day out.
The National Trophy race yesterday at Mallory was the first tough and muddy race on the national circuit this year. The mud at Mallory had some strange qualities and did an incredible job of sticking things together. It was another day for changing bikes every lap and the pit crews worked their socks off all day.
I had a very quiet week and I think it served me well as I had some really good power after a couple of laps – and started to gently claw my way through the field after a congested start and generally waking myself into the race for 15 minutes. Passing people who’d normally be way up on me was a good morale booster and I was merrily churning my way towards ‘not getting lapped’ by flying Frenchman Nicholas Bazin. Two laps to go very quickly became my last lap though as the off-camber corners finally got the better of me and I rolled off my not well glued on tyres… grrrr. The leader came ploughing by and I was lapped as I ran – losing eight places and my race was finished prematurely.
It’s strange, but doing that race and not getting a result didn’t bother me that much. I’m 39 and not getting any slower or any quicker – it’s a strange equlibrium – I gained a lot of satisfaction from the way I rode and despite all the places i lost, I knew I felt good. It just didn’t really matter, that’s all. I was doing what I love. I was still loving it. I still am.