7th March 2015
After a winter of dark, wet, cold and countless hours of agony on turbo trainers, five members of SNCC, David Palmer, Dan Baxter, Dave Hennessy, Jacob Hennessy and Richard Ostler arrived at the Naseby Circuit on Saturday afternoon to find it lovely, warm, sunny and really windy.
Ian Turner scored his first TT podium of the season with an impressive second place at the notorious Ely Hardriders 25mile TT on Sunday. This secured the third successive runners-up spot for St Neots CC at the event, albeit it on a replacement course this year. Gone were the feared potholes of the BS19 backroads, to be replaced by a two loop out-and-back route on the relatively smooth A142. Conditions were cold, but safely above freezing, with bright sunshine and a stiff headwind blowing in from the Fens.
With the Eastern CycloCross League having reached the half way point, I thought I'd do a quick catch-up on what I've found it to be like.
Imagine my surprise when every photo of me has my big mouth wide open!
Three other club members, Judy, David Spoors, Sharon Herbert and I decided to tackle the Wiggle Peaks Punisher with the starting point being the Bakewell sports grounds deep in the Peak District. I elected to leave St Neots just after 4am on Sunday morning whilst the other three decided to venture up the day before (the sensible option). I arrived at just after 7am and the sun was already starting to shine. I swiftly put my bike together and made my way to the signing on area which was surprisingly quick and efficient, The day was already looking promising the sun was shining and the atmosphere was friendly. I made contact by text with the others who were just about to sign on so all was good.
I decided to ride lone wolf whilst Judy and David rode together and Sharon rode with a friend.
For me the ride started at a semi-relaxed pace for the first few miles taking us out of Bakewell and subsequently towards what quite quickly became hell. The theme for the rest of the day was every time we turned left everything went upwards and just kept going upwards - to which at one point I thought the last time I was this high up I had a parachute on my back. To be honest even turning right wasn’t much better because although the bike pointed downwards I just knew there would be a fast sweeping bend at the bottom and, guess what, we went up again. I’m not sure I can remember seeing so many people getting off the bikes and walking which under the circumstances is nothing to be ashamed of but when it happens straight in front of you, it ruins your tempo and trying to keep calm isn’t easy. At points my mind drifted to our club members on the ride and hoped they were suffering as much as me (joking of course).
The first feed station couldn’t come quick enough and I must say they were well stocked with energy drinks and loads of energy foods and it also dawned on me that all the riders who were there were remarkably quiet about the horrors that went before and for what lay ahead, and it most certainly didn’t help when a local was heard to say “ that’s the easy bit done then”. How we all laughed!
So out of the feed station, then, guess what? Yep, up we go again and so it continued. When we eventually levelled out I managed to link up with some local riders who were riding at a very relaxed pace and I must say I couldn’t understand why until, and here it comes, we turned left and off they went like nanny goats leaving me to think I should have seen that coming, I could, by now, hear myself with my good ear saying more than a dozen times that we are not used to this in Cambridgeshire and even raised kerbs are problematic - this excuse even with me was wearing thin. Anyway I got to the second feed station and it was pointed out that there was quite a lot of claret on my left hand which meant my elbow was playing up and then the pain started when I removed my arm warmer. Luckily a first aider was on hand to clean it up and re-dress it. She did actually ask if I should carry on and like an idiot I told her I’m fine - the reality was the total opposite. Onwards we rode for a couple of a hundred metres and then a left turn and you know the rest. At the top of this one, the route spilt, Epic one way(100 miles), Standard (75 miles) the other and although I set off to do the Epic, I thought - excuse the pun - I’ve already chanced my arm enough and elected for the Standard although there was still a lot of hard riding to come. Just before the end there was just one more sting in the tail and it came in the shape of big and vertical and only now will I admit it - I very nearly cried but managed to hold back the tears and just blamed Wiggle for everything that’s wrong in the world.
For the last few miles I rode in with a lad from Sheffield and I don’t know how we managed it but we both rode straight past the finish point. We didn’t even notice the massive Wiggle flags and we both agreed we were both socially confused by the days events.
Anyway, finish we did, and shook hands and parted company. I, with what little energy I had, threw the bike in the car and went in search of something to drink and wait for the others at the finish point. Both Judy and David had come in together and both had done 75 and both had averaged a cracking pace, they were shortly followed by Sharon and friend, again 75, who again had averaged a great pace and at this point I also want to mention Simon who was a friend of Judy who also done brilliant.
On this occasion and given how severe this ride was, it really wasn’t all about pace, it was about if you had finished it then you had done something very special and for me something to be extremely proud of.
In the end only three families turned out for the club family day, but that wasn't going to stop us and the kids having a good day, and so it was a motley collection of bikes, tag alongs and toddler seats that set off from Perry. Still it was good to see so many single speeds on a club ride, even if the modal age was only 4!
From Perry, we headed east along the flat track to the dam. We made good progress at first, but reaching the dam we faced an exposed run into a headwind - tip, don't bother drafting someone on 16inch wheels...
We made it across and, while the adults put their feet up and revitalised with some caffeine, the kids went off for a pre lunch play on the swings and slides. We picnicked in sunshine and the shelter of trees. Dragonflies darted about and some early autumn leaves drifted down around us. It was a good little spot, but a clamour was going up for ice creams from the cafe, so we didn't linger long!
We all agreed to press on and ride around the reservoir for the full circuit. We made slow, but steady progress to the nature reserve and the lumpy track on the west side. The girls on their tag alongs and toddler seats had a good gossip while the adults dragged hem over the climbs, but I'm pleased to say that no one was defeated by the gradients!
We all made it back to Perry for a well earned mug of tea. Special kudos to Leah, riding pregnant and Sophie (aged 6) for completing her first solo Grafham circuit. We had a good day out and I think we all look forward to doing it again.
Having stumbled across the Eastern CycloCross Race at Grafham Water see report (www.britishcycling.org.uk/cyclocross/article/cyx20131201-Cross--Cotton-threads-his-way-to-victory-in-Eastern-League-0) last winter whilst out on my mountain bike I was struck by two ridiculous thoughts:
To that end I now find myself having registered with the league and signed-up to race throughout the winter in glamorous locations such as Basildon, Colchester, Ilford, Chelmsford, Welwyn Garden City, Thurrock & Ipswich; all truly exotic locations guaranteed to set the pulse racing. However, of more pressing concern to me than the architectural & cultural delights of the venues I'll soon be visiting was a complete lack of experience of 'cross racing; in fact bad habits learned over years (OK, decades) of hooning around on mountain bikes probably makes me worse than completely inexperienced. So starting from such a low baseline I thought the best thing I could do was to find someone silly enough to put me through my paces and try to teach me a few 'skillz' ahead of my race debut.... and thats how I found myself last weekend at Hillingdon Cycle Track on a British Cycling 'Cyclo Cross Rider Development Event', which at £10 for 6 hours of coaching and racing, together with full 'clubhouse' facilities (including as much coffee as I could drink) seemed like pretty good value to me. Unfortunately, as her with the leg-warmers from Fame once (almost) said "You want to CX race, right here is where you start paying........in sweat"
Coming into the Chronos RT 2-up race myself and Ady's expectations were not that high as I'd just come back from holiday and Ady had not been that well in the week, but as we had paid we thought we would just race it and see what happened.
2-ups are great racing and you really feel like you are a team on top of riding for the club as well, though if you asked Adrian at the end I'm not sure he would agree!
Ade & Richard flat out - photo courtesy of Davey Jones
I was surprised to see my name down as the only St Neots Cycling Club rider for the Chronos solo event, given the encouraging rides by some of our other members recently. However it was good to see the club represented in the 2-up competition in the form of Ade and Richard H. (Perhaps we'll have an update from them later -Ed).
Photo coutesy of Davey Jones
Twelve riders left St Neots on a Sunday morning that was perfect for cycling. Indoors. The remnants of tropical storm Bertha were travelling up through the UK as we headed to the Olympic Velodrome for our track day and we chuckled at the thought of anyone braving the club run or Ride London that day.
Arriving at the Olympic Park, a number of us promptly got lost on the way through to the velodrome. Had nobody thought to bring a Garmin with a route loaded? Myself, Alec and Mark were quickly back on course and our minor detour meant passing the pro teams as they warmed up for the Ride London Classic. Hordes of people were gathered around the Team Sky bus, no doubt hoping a stray Dogma would be flung in their direction. Simon had managed to go even more off course than us and eventually resorted to taking the most direct route to the velodrome, cutting through the undergrowth and glaring at any security guards that might have considered challenging him. Wayne and Stephen arrived late, having driven down relying on a SatNav that wasn't much help with the road closures in advance of the day's road race. Wayne never even found the changing room as we can see in the photo on the left.
Ade Taverna was in action at last weekend's Cambridge CC 25. Unfortunately flooding on the circuit meant the course was shortened to 12.5miles. From a field of 40 Ade finished 8th with a time of 30:31 - the winning time being 28:32.
Ade and Rich Hancock will be racing a 2-up at this Saturday's Chronos 10. So far the pairing have two wins this season, let's hope they keep their consistent form this weekend... Good luck gents!
If you have results to report please send them via the website contact form here or by e-mail to the club e-mail address.