The playing fields of Crickhowell High School were criss-crossed in an intricate fashion with plastic tape. It weaved in and out of trees, up and down steep slopes and through the sand box of the long jump to form a convoluted race course. I stood on the start line of my first ever cyclocross race surrounded by hardened roadies “fresh” from a summer of road events and criterium races.
Standing astride a my 29er MTB with 32mm tyres and one gear at the back I was clearly in a minority of one. Crossing my fingers, I hoped that 32:18 was the right gear for the course. Without anymore time to contemplate the implications of the choice of set-up, the whistle went and we were off. Carnage ensued before the first corner: a bottleneck in the course caused a momentary hold-up, but once it was clear the pace soon opened up to the leg burning, lung bursting and heart pounding pace that characterises cyclocross racing.
The first half of the race was a bit of a procession, wheel to wheel with other riders while trying to pick them off on the tight turns or on approach to the technical sections. The 32:18 gear seemed about right for powering out of the hair-pins, and the technical sections favoured my MTB background. I settled into more of a rhythm after about 20 minutes, and with the thinning out of the other riders, I could concentrate on keeping my lines smooth and trying to gain some ground on the few riders I could see ahead of me. I was lapped by the leaders on lap six I think. I finished 19th of 31 seniors in the end, plus one lap on the leaders. Overall, it was a good event and an interesting introduction for me to cyclocross.
Round two is on Sunday…