Friday, October 19, 2012

blog 1 cx race 1

50 meters that's how far i got in my first cyclo cross race of the season before i punctured, i hope this is not an omen for the season ahead! I rode the first half lap on the flat, i had no spare wheels with me but fortunately Joe Christian from south east road club gave me a wheel so i did not have a wasted trip to Dublin on my hands.

 I restarted in dead last position and began to pick off a few riders, the course was very technical especially as it had flogged rain for the previous few days and it quickly became a mud bath. The course started out with a fast flat section before dipping down through a couple of bends to the course's two gravel pits, the first that you had to run through but the second was rideable but this pit was pulled out of the A race as a number of riders in the B race snapped of rear mechs riding through it. The first rider I met on Sunday was Damien Heffernan from Wexford Wheelers who's race was ended on the first lap by a snapped rear mech so a puncture for me was not too bad. After the second pity we had a small flat muddy section and a right turn onto a small but really steep tarmacked climb, followed by a flat section and then a steep technical descent that at the bottom of we had to jump over a board and run/walk up a really steep incline, this turned immediately onto a steep technical descent that was off camber for the most of it just to keep it interesting. Then we entered a single track section through a small forest that was 3 inches deep with muck and then we came out onto another flat section that was 6 inches deep with muck, then we had a gradual tarmacked climb to the finish line.

I knew that any possibility of a good result was long gone so i focused on trying to have the best race possible and try to get a good days training out of the race. The worst part of being so far off the back was that i didn't get to see any of the lines that the good riders were taking through the corners, this was only my 4th cx race so experienced i am not! i rode a number of consistent laps and was happy not to crash on the descents and was able to ride all of the mucky sections, i am not sure would it have being faster to run the muddy sections but i didn't really have anyone to compare myself to. Fortunately Robin Seymore lapped me with two to go so i though brilliant i will have a chance to see what lines he takes, unfortunately i was only able to stay with him for about 20 seconds so that was that plan gone. i caught Murt Rice and another couple of rides with just under two laps to go so i gave it full gas for a bit but unfortunately giving full gas meant i ran out of gas very quickly and they quickly passed me out again!!!! the mud with the last number of laps was incredible the bike handled really differently as they was kilos of mud sticking to the bike, some riders had two bikes and were swapping them every lap while they had a helper in the pits washing the bikes, a clean bike would have made a big difference every lap but its hard enough to have one cx bike never mind two.
The race finished with me in 16th and happy to have the first race of the season over. I was looking forward to the cyclo cross season with a long time, i bought a bike on impulse last year and only got to ride 3 races. i had a bad crash earlier in the year and missed out on riding the Ras but the thoughts of the cx season made it easier for me to get back on the bike and racing during the summer. I only wish the season was longer and there were more cyclo cross races, guys based in Dublin have a lot more selection as they can ride the Ulster races every second weekend and the Fixx Super Cross races in Dublin, but for me to drive to Belfast from Kilkenny for a 1 hour race does not really make sense.
All the cycling news for the last week or so has being about Lance and the USADA report, I must say none of it is a huge surprise especially after reading Tyler Hamiltons book. The most surprising aspect of it all is that the riders on the team were forced into it by Lance it really shows what a bully and a control freak he is. You can argue that they were grown men and could have made there own decisions and said no but I can also see how they would crack and go on the gear especially when the rewards in the form of the big us postal contracts were available. But at the end of the day they have to now face the consequences which admittedly are fairly light when you consider all the people and riders they deceived for years. Its the riders that raced clean in those years that i feel sorry for. I remember Ciaran Power coming back from riding the Giro D' Italia to ride the national championships in Cork. He was the big favourite as he was the only pro that we had back then but he was absolutely dead on the road and had no power, that's what racing clean against doped riders will do to you.
For me the most disappointing story to come out in the last week was that of Matt White. He was always a decent pro who you not have considered to be a doper, I based a lot of this on the media image I had of the guy and the time I spent racing in Belgium in 2007. At the start of some random 1.1 I rolled up to the start line and found myself beside Matt White and Robbie McEwan, I said hello to the two of them, McEwan just grunted and wouldn't engage White on the other hand was full of chat and was asking about the team and our race programme and how I was finding Belgium and the racing. We chatted for about 5 minutes and I really enjoyed chatting to him he was telling me how he had being called into the race at the last minute as Steven Cummings had crashed a few days before and he had no interest in being at the race. I suppose it just shows nice guys can be dopers as well and rob the clean riders of a living