Last year I did not manage to do any of the West Midlands CycloCross series, clashes with other events and various things getting in the way. Being addicted to competition and with no chance of making it to the West Midlands foot Orienteering Champs on the Sunday morning after returning from an evening down south, I decided to take in the Wolverhampton Wheelers, Fred Williams Scramble CycloCross race on the way home, as the seniors race did not start till 2pm.
The atmosphere as I arrived to register half way through the Vets, Juniors and Women’s race was fantastic, with lots of supporters and even commentary blaring out. The course seemed to snake its way around the parkland and old railway embankment at Aldersley Leisure Village, home of the Wolves football academy, with lots of opportunities for spectators to get a good view of the racing as the riders pounded round the short, lapped course.
I seemed to stand out like a sore thumb on my Corratec mountain bike as we lined up ready to start, pretty much everyone else on shiny, light cyclocross bikes, many even having a spare one in the pits!
I had to start at the back, as I did not have a league position to grid me. On "Go!", I tried to scythe through the slower riders ahead of me before the course narrowed and get a better position, but was frustrated somewhat on the corners as many wobbled and slithered their way round generally getting in the way. After a ½ lap on the flat open area of the course to spread out the pack, we got stuck in to the course proper with its very steep short power climbs up onto the old railway embankments, equally steep descents and standard cyclocross weaving in and out of the woods and flatter areas of parkland.
I slowly reeled in a few more riders and then started a cat-and-mouse battle with a Shropshire Wheelers rider. He would pull away on a couple parts of the course only for me to get back on his wheel later, though his thinner tyres seemed to get more bite on one of the climbs and particularly on the slippery traverse. Eventually, we caught a Rugeley Peloton rider and the Shropshire chap attacked. I simply couldn’t hold on and found myself alone for the last few laps, until I was caught by the leader on the straight after the finish line. Unsure of whether I would have to do another lap I dug deep and managed to hold off the second place rider until just before the line and got a taste of the sort of speed needed to win at this level.
I was very pleased that the results show me mid table at 21st which I’m sure raised a few eyebrows as to why I wasn’t on a proper cross bike, but I simply don’t have one. I now have the cyclocross bug back again as it feeds my racing habit very nicely and can’t wait for the next one to come along.
Results available here http://www.wmccl.co.uk/results/league06/league06.html