NWCCA – RD 5 – Heaton Park, Manchester
I took a bit of break from cycling to be ill for a while. It’s been a lovely break, stomach bugs and fatigue followed by a vicious sod of a horsefly bite that saw me on Antibiotics for a fortnight then a nice cold and chest infection to finish off a wonderful month. It’s nice to have these little dalliances from cycling once in a while. So naturally a cyclocross race seemed the sensible thing to do with my new found ‘wellness’ and on Sunday the 20th this was to be at Heaton Park in Manchester for RD 5 of the NWCCA.
All photo’s herein are the work of Ellen Isherwood, without photographers like here giving up their time to come to events no one would ever know of our moderately heroic efforts. Check out her other work here:
I was assured that this was once of the better courses of the series and thankfully the rain held off otherwise it could quite easily have been hell. I’m all for a bit of light masochism but not when I’m testing the waters post illness. The course was mainly hard pack with some soggy bits at either end and riding fast. Being in Manchester it was big numbers for this round with 70 riders lining up for the seniors race, I decided to adopt a ‘making up the numbers’ position behind the gridded riders.
On the whistle I surprised myself with a pretty decent start, at least being off the bike for a bit had given me fresh legs, the usual faster riders pulled away in a solid group that would battle hard to the end and I ended up with the front of the chasers. Given the size and speed of the course with only a few ‘technical’ features there wasn’t much opportunity to make a run for it on other riders, they would simply group together and ride you down just like a road race.
My battle was to be with a rider from Red Rose Olympic CC, number 18, who brought his whole family to constantly cheer him on round the course. His kids seemed strategically placed on even spaced corners to shout encouragement. It’s an expensive way to cultivate a fan club. We even had a little chat and a laugh that the young’uns would be on us before the race ended. For the first three laps we played yo yo with some elbows out action in the tighter sections of the course pulling away from the main group behind us and making inroads on riders dropping off the front. That initial good start didn’t last long and I was starting to feel it mid race and struggling to find the power out of the corners and up inclines.
That’s the odd thing about being ill, once recovered you feel fine but the reality is the motors only just ticking over, it takes time to build up enough energy and muscle strength to ride hard and I knew in the closing stages of the race I just didn’t have it in me to fight. Number 18 probably saw this closing a gap I put on him on about lap 4 and put in an almighty effort up the steepest ramp which I was now just crawling up and he was gone. Brilliant tactics. I was taking corners gingerly with the clay like mud provided an ‘exciting’ lack of grip on the off camber, the muddy straights at the far end of the course we’re leg sappingly slow and laps five and six were just a grind to get through them. In hindsight I need to run more of the courses instead of doggedly trying to ride them.
The closing stages of the race I was caught by a second chasing rider from Barrow Central Wheelers and decided to sit with him for a bit of a wind break for as long as possible. As we came round on the last lap the leaders came flying by signalling the end of our race with me finishing in 26th overall and 14th in cat. Not bad considering.
I’m glad I made myself ride the race, it seems tough to get going again but it can help blow out the cobwebs and act as a call to action on the battered body. I don’t think I’ve ever raced an event and not enjoyed it so give it a go and just enjoy the fact that you’re an adult racing bicycles round a muddy field on a Sunday. Revel in it.
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: