Monday 29 November 2010

lessons learnt - part 2

It's fair to say I'm pretty cheesed off with myself after the Horwich CC Humdinger Cross yesterday in Bolton. Held on a beautiful but sub zero day, the course was the usual high standard that Leverhulme Park and the Horwich team offers.

It went something like this:

Warmed up, feeling good, opted for file treads as course was completely frozen and extremely fast. Kept nicely warm for the start.

Blinding start, snuck in behind the gridded front row, eyeing up Roy Hunt's wheel as a good one to follow.

It was, and I got the best start of all season, being much more aggressive after practising starts during the week.

Slotted in to the front file of riders as the course narrowed and kept on the wheels nicely through the technical sections. There was some aggressive overtaking at times by some riders, par for the course, the best (worst) one of which ended in a wild unsustianable dive up the inside by one guy, only to be brought to an abrupt halt by an unyielding bush. I almost laughed out loud...

Back into the race and I was flowing nicely, moving up to 13th and 3rd Vet as fast starters faded and one or two overcooked it on the slippy sections.

And so it was for the next few laps, not catching the group in front but not being caught either. Loving the fast and rutted nature of the course and feeling confident with tires and pressure.

And then after half distance I noticed the first slip from my file treads, just after lapping team mate Mark. Put it down to an overexuberant dive into the corner ahead of him. But it happened again and I began to notice little parts of the line and ground getting a sheen. Parts that I had ridden comfortably whilst others bobbled, caused me to bobble. A hundred riders, passing over the ground in minus 2 degrees were simply polishing the surface to a mirror like condition.

The black ice became more and more apparent, and I became more and more anxious. There had already been some heavy falls, including one nasty head injury, and all that flow and pressure to push on just began to evaporate. I tried to keep things smooth, and focus on maintaining momentum but just seemed to go slower and slower.

Riders I had passed started to appear behind and eventually all came past. It was the usual - once you lose your mojo in a cross race, it can be nigh on impossible to claim it back.

Result? A loss of ten places, and about 4 on the last lap.

Pissed off? How to snatch an average result from potentially my best of the season. Aargh.

Lessons learnt? Not sure really. I have no excuses, I don't think file tread was the wrong decision - ice is ice after all. I simply have to learn to relax more and be braver when courses are iced up.

Compensations? I stayed upright whilst many didn't and got to drive the kids home, in one piece and not bruised and battered.

And Dave Haygarth took some fab photos, above and below.


Mark said...

well look on the positives - you stayed in one piece, you finished and you learned from it - result.
I so that slip, i had done the same a few laps previous so had taken a lot wider line which worked fine, I would have told you if you had thought to slow down and chat when you passed, anybody would have thought we were at a race!!!
loved the course, my tyre pressure was to high and I didnt have enough layers on which was just silly.
Really looking forward to next week though, it was good to be riding instead of cheering

Anonymous said...

I'm learning having opted to duck out because of a dry throat; a social ride confirmed that my body was well below best

Good result though Al and wouldn't be too hard on yourself

Otleyrich said...

White overshoes, white tubs but where is the snow in those pictures? Still a decent result Al, marred only by thoughts of what might have been - if you want an excuse remember that at 6' 5" your centre of gravity is higher than most and you've got further to fall ;-)

Jase said...

as you said - you had the kids to drive home and you had work on Monday. I'd have backed off too.