A Week of Contrasts

My week started with great news, my first sponsor, Eat Natural have given me lots and lots of bars ( I do tend to go through them), so thanks to the Eat Natural Marketing people. Please follow the link on the right to their website for more info on their tasty bars.

Anyway back to racing and training, Wednesday evening ride was great with fireworks going off everywhere, some bangs a little too close for comfort and a little scary to be honest though.

Fridays ride brought sunshine and a fantastic display of Autumn colours so I put the camera in my bag and stopped a few times to get some piccys. At the top of my first climb there were at least 20 deer wandering about, but it was too dark in the forest to get any decent pics. I then followed a circular route of the chase going down as far as Gentleshaw. The thought the best leafy displays were in Birches Valley and on the road from Longdon up to the Wandon cross roads, with the Beech orange’s almost glowing in the sunshine.

I had been looking forward to doing another Cyclo Cross race, and Sunday gave me the opportunity in Bromsgrove. Cath and Holly were off at the Yvette Baker Trophy Qualifier near Tamworth so I had a relaxing morning templating the new kitchen worktops and a quick blast down the motorway in time to see the Vets / Women’s race at 12.30 in which fellow Walton Chasers Neil Lawford and Beth Clayton were competing. It was getting very muddy and the rain came just before the end. At 2pm when we started it hadn’t got any better and there was a cold wind blowing from the SW. I had decided to keep my bike clean and didnt ride a recce lap, just walked parts of it. Even on the first lap it was very muddy, with parts of the course becoming unrideable. I had a good start and then started picking my way up through the field. The bike was becoming harder and harder to ride with the mud balling up round the gears and brakes. Then came a very painful hailstorm (well it is for me being bald as a coot!) whilst I was out on the most exposed part of the course. It only lasted a few minutes and then turned back into heavy rain. The great thing was that it seemed to clear the muck off the bike and from then on, although the going was harder and it became very slippery, the mud didnt ball up on the bike and the gears worked well again. I was very pleased with the 24th place but my legs started to tire on the last lap and my heart rate trace for this time was noticeably lower which reflects this. Getting changed in the car afterwards was a challenge with filthy clothes and I didn’t notice the state of my my face until after I had called into a petrol station for a choccy stop, no wonder the chap behind the till was giggling ! – Thanks to Neil for the X-photos
Mark Stodgell


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