So last autumn I decided I've have a go at Cyclocross (CX) racing. I'd heard it was a good way to build fitness over the winter and an opportunity to race without the need for a racing licence and without the accident risks that go with road racing. I'd done a few fun mountain bike events in the early '90s and vaguely remembered enjoying them and thought CX might be somewhat similar.
I turned up to the first race of the Leicestershire CX League in Corby on a warm Sunday in September and was surprised to see that the place was packed with riders. I watched the novice race and did my warm up lap on a newly built and worryingly clean CX bike. Even the warm up was hard! And in places pretty technical. At this point I became acutely aware of how little I'd been out on my cross bike!
All too soon it was time to line up at the start. The men's V50 race went off and the women's race, with fewer riders, started two minutes after. I was terrified but everyone on the line was very friendly and encouraging. "Thirty seconds to the whistle!" then we were off!
My goodness we set off at a pace! It was full gas all the way up the field until a right hander took us onto the single track. I'd got off to a great start but it didn't take long for my seasoned competitors to come flying by. I realised I had a lot to learn. Nevertheless I came in respectably in the middle of the field and was pleased with the result, even if I'd left my lungs somewhere in the woods on the second lap! It was a great course, really fast, a mixture of single track, with a few rocks and roots, some very sharp descents, some equally sharp climbs as well as plenty of opportunity for sprinting across the grass. It was a fantastic atmosphere, the event was brilliantly organised and everyone was very welcoming. I was hooked!
I have since riden in all six of the LCXL events and they haven't disappointed. The courses have been challenging and varied; some technical, some fast, some muddy, but all have been fun and I'm pleased to say that during the season more and more Ratae riders have decided to give CX a go.
We now have a burgeoning CX group and we organised training rides between races to practice our skills. In the last race of the season at Misterton Hall we had eleven competitors, two marshals and several supporters. Misterton was swathed in purple!!
If this has piqued your interest and would like to know more just have a chat with any of our CX riders. We are: Ruthie Coles, Peter Kott, Mark Newton, Ed Watson, John Redfearn, Chris Spray, Biggi Gaillard, Jonathon Clarke, Mark Gamble, Chris Whitmore and Alex Whitmore.