Central Cyclocross Leage Round 6 – Kempton Park (By Paul “Cipo” Morrissey)
Cyclocross is an odd one – why ride a road bike with knobby tires over lumps bumps when there are good MTB races to be had? Good question really. I love my MTB and riding it however cross is just something else.
I had pondered riding cross for years but never did – too much pondering meant time was wasted.
All the best riders hit the cross bike in the winter, its classic its an hour of madness its full gas and you always have a smile at the end.
It was Paul cope that inspired me to actually get off my arse and try Cross. I watched him in a few races and just had to have a go.
My first two races I did on a full suspension MTB but that's where I got hooked. The bikes important but regardless of the bike you ride FUN is guaranteed.
Anyway enough history and babble lets talk about round 6
Round 6 was based at Kempton Park racetrack – yes, the Horse racing track!
The race CX course was based on the grassy middle center.
I always arrive early to events – some of that's my early life ex forces discipline habit either way arriving early means you get to do a practice loop of the course. So after signing on getting my timing chip I chucked on my Club colors and rode the course.
Early reconnaissance also means you ride round with the juniors. Juniors ride a shorter course and start various races from 10.00. These “kids” are truly inspiring, watching them chuck their bikes about and smash around tight corners is hilarious – they have no fear at all –great fun and you get to see the course dynamics and how your going to approach parts of the course.
I’m racing Novice till December as are our club mates Huw Thomas and Andrew Wright. The races are all age ranged but Novice although sounding wet is a good start and gets you adjusted to cross pretty quickly.
After a great deal of banter big talk and joking we are advised by James Norris to lower our tyre pressure on the front wheel to about 20 psi – James knows best, he has been riding cross for years so we all obey (a great tip as we found out in the race).
Novice has every shape size and age of rider some on CX bikes and some on MTBs
You get a 30 sec countdown then BOOM the whistle is blown and you’re off. The Kempton course was super flat and twisty over “lumpy heavy “ grass with a few tarmac sections. The start was like a road race 100 meters of full on sprinting to the first grass section (into a right hand corner).
I had a good start 22 riders and I was about 8th so chuffed with my placing. Then came the plank jumps. With plank jumps you can do the right thing and dismount and run then jump on the bike or you can bunny hop (which comes with its own risks). My dismount and run is fine but my remount is rubbish and needs work as its here I lost places and time. Andrew wright came past me and was pulling ahead with the leading 5 riders but Huw Thomas was a few behind me (no doubt having the same issues I had).
From here on in I was at upper threshold. Nothing is easy in that high heart rate zone every bump every pedal stroke and corner lean is a struggle. All I cared about was staying ahead of the guys behind me, I wanted the wheel of any rider and if I could go passed them I bloody would.
I had Huw on my wheel for most of the race we kept each other going and we paced well going past several riders.
Andrew wright we could still see away with the top 5 riders. The great thing about a Cross-race is you can nearly always see your leaders which gives you hope of catching back on (even if that's sometimes delusional its hope). The course was flat but a tough terrain so soggy and the low tyre pressure on the front wheel really helped on some of the hairpin turns.
On lap2 Huw pulled ahead of me and attempted a bunny hop of the planks (we all do it at some point) unfortunately Huws ambitions did not match the bikes weight and he floundered catching the bike, his legs on the planks – he did recover though and nothing was harmed but his pride and my stomach muscles from laughing.
Onward and the bell lap came. I was clearly tiring and some riders I had passed where pulling me back with one guy sitting on my wheel. I could hear the rider breathing heavy but I knew he was waiting to come round me and sprint past me to get the placing ahead . The tarmac section came, he jumped the chequred flag was in sight he came round me he had half a bike length on me. There is no way in hell someone is going to jump me like that and think they can take a place in front of me (especially with a finish flag waving ) does he not know who I am !!!
I slapped on the big ring and put all my power and energy into the pedals. I had to remain seated as the low pressure in the front tyre meant an out of the saddle sprint for the line would see me in a ditch. I powered on like a Greek god to the line shouting CIIIIIPPPPPPOOOOOOO and took the place. I finished 11th, Huw 10th and the gallant nimble Andrew wright a brilliant 2nd place.
God I loved that I was breathing out of every possible hole in my body my heart was coming out my chest I came 11th in a Novice race – I AM KING
I love CX I wish to god I had done this sport when I was a teenager. All I can say is I urge you to give it a try – it matters not too much about the bike (that comes later) CYCLOCROSS is the future.
Up the Wycombe
Club Captain HWCC
Paul Cipo Morrissey