It was an early start for the trip to Dunbar this morning, but we were away for 7am, cutting our way north along the empty, black expanse of tarmac that is the A1. The sky was a burning orange above.
Having entered the cyclo-cross at Foxlake, the young 'un had decided she was going as well, to run the earlier trail race, so we were parked up and I was supping coffee by 9am just as Prasad showed them a clean pair of heels over the 14km beach and forest trails.
By 11.30, I was geared up and ready for a mudfest along with around 100 others. The course took in some gravel road, a long flat boggy straight of grass and then it was into the woods for some seriously technical ascents and descents. Logs, roots, ruts and stumps. But the killer section were the bunny hops and short, sharp grassy knoll at the finish line which was super heavy, cloddy and sapped the very life out of your limbs.
Starting at the rear, the first 200 metres were marked by a couple of pile ups and I was lucky to be riding at the outside and kept well out of the way. I had taken time to do a couple of practice laps around the woods and was pretty happy with the way things were going during the first couple of laps, passing riders who were either low on endurance or losing time with tiredness...that's when the bike handling can get pretty ragged. There was a great crowd there and the finishing area was thronged with folk, many no doubt enjoying the spectacle of men and women flogging themselves into oblivion, coming unstuck in the mud or coming off on the tight bends as the course cut up.
My training has been poor in the last few weeks as I've been bothered with a bad knee, and just as I was getting over that, a dose of the lurgy, so nothing to blog about: I put any negative thoughts aside and concentrated hard as I battled to keep the work ethic going over the last 20 minutes of the 50 minute event. I could feel the lactic building up in both quads through the last climb in the woods but it didn't amount to anything and I was relieved to see the finish line, finishing somewhere down the field.
Funny thing. Had I ran the trail race I might have finished top 6 or 7 perhaps. In this event , I was well down, but the course, weather and crowds made the experience memorable. The downside (and there's always one) was that it took 2 hours to clean the bike, my gear and me afterwards but nothing that a pint and a curry couldn't sort. That's the CX bike hung up now until October.
Photos of the event at Bob Marshalls excellent site (see link on right hand side).