NWCCA Rd 3 – Horwich Humdinger
I awoke to the sound of rolling thunder and rain hammering against the tarmac. It could be Stephen King, but no. This is Cyclo-Cross (insert humorous 300 meme…)
The prayers of cyclo cross riders across the land were answered on Sunday the 22nd with the clouds moving in and the rain coming down in earnest throughout the day, it sounds almost blasphemous to be longing for rain but in the cross world mud is king and there was going to be plenty of that at the North West Cyclo Cross ‘Horwich Humdinger’ at Leverhulme Park in Bolton.
Thankfully by the time I arrived the rain had subsided and we were left with a moody atmospheric cloud covering that was threatening to dump the Atlantic on us any moment. With my race the last of the day and the ground well and truly saturated it was going to be cut to bits by the previous races so a quick sighting lap was as much about sight seeing as preparation. It’s time’s like these that rollers in the car park are a godsend for warming up!
Our race kicked off a little late at about 3pm, once again I took up position in the rear(ish) having freshly recovered from horsefly bite infections giving me pop-eye arm for most of the week beforehand. It was the usual fare, a furious start on the whistle with riders jostling to get into a good position in the first corner and me hanging on for grim death trying not to loose too many places. That run into the first right hand corner off the back straight was just a lottery with the ground so badly cut up it was anybodies guess as to where your wheels would take you.
The first lap was to be a flyer, I had a fairly slow start considering but that initial push for places from the start had proved a bit too much early effort for some riders and I managed to gain a couple of places back at the end of lap one and the start of lap two. We could have done with a little more rain to loosen the mud, combined with churned up grass it was sticking heavily to the bikes which was no concern to the riders sporting a spare in the pits.
Lap three was when things really started to burn, I’d found myself once again in a little group playing yo-yo with some of the riders as the war of attrition began. Imagine riding your road bike with 20psi in the tyres up a false flat with the brakes slightly on and you’ll get the idea. There is no let up as we push hard into the mid section of the race, I’m overtaken by a Junior who I just can’t hang onto with power to weight proving crucial in these conditions. In the closing stages of the race in laps five and six I’ve settled down into a rhythm and once again managing to make up time in the corners and by hammering out the watts on the flat, I managed a cheeky overtake on the back straight past the pits of a younger rider ahead and managed to hold onto that place as we hit the dreaded off camber section.
In the final lap just concentrating enough to stay upright was a challenge with the front wheel getting away from me on multiple corners whilst I was fighting for breath and getting my head down to power out of the corners and then like orange greased lightening the leader of the race from Macclesfield Wheelers came storming past on my second to last lap making this time round my last. It was one of those occasions where getting lapped is a relief so I could go and collapse in the field!
The results were deja vu with me finishing 23rd overall and again 12th in the seniors which I wasn’t expecting after such a slow start. Hopefully when the next event comes around I wont have some kind of tropical disease before hand and I can go in fighting for a top 10.
Sound like fun? Come and give cross a try at our Wednesday Night Cross sessions
If you fancy having a go a cyclo-cross our Wednesday Night Cross training sessions are a great way to give the sport a go without the pressure of racing. We meet every Wednesday at Oldfield Brow Recreation Ground in Altrincham (WA14 4LE) at 6:30pm. Sessions last for about an hour where we train for fitness and skills to build confidence for racing all you need to bring is a helmet and a suitable off road bike, even a hybrid with knobbly tyres will do!. We are a super friendly bunch and we encourage any one of any ability or age to come and give it a go, cross is a very inclusive sport ideal for pre-teen children without dangerous roads or trails to worry about.
All this info is on our events page where along with social media we post any updates on future evenings: