(Picture by Cross Crazy)
I only got lapped once. I didn’t come last. I beat Rene and TeeCee. But for a mechanical I would have beaten my bearded nemesis.
Andy Waterman reckons Hog Hill is rubbish for cyclocross:
“Hog Hill is just plain unsuitable for cyclocross racing”
He argues that “12min+ laps are too long esp when you have a single pit. Descent loop after pit was unnecessary imo”
Yes, the lap feels long but I disagree about the suitability of the venue.
3.4km does feel like a long lap in a cross race, but I would have preferred to go without some of the top end of the course which criss-crossed pretty dull off-camber grass banks rather than the descent loop.
The hazards/obstacles are what makes Hog Hill an interesting course. The lumps, bumps and berms mean it works for me as it allows me to use good handling skills to hold on to riders who get away from me on less technical circuits. For example, the fast descent after the pit allowed me to put a gap into more timid descenders.
Then there is the mud which rates up there with the off-road circuit at Penshurst for filthiest of the season. Again, I was able to put pressure on riders by being quicker through it and not afraid to ride on the edge of control.
The mud was fine while it was raining but once the sun and wind came out it got dangerously heavy. Result was that I dropped my chain a couple of times and jammed the rear mech which probably cost me a few places in the last couple of laps.
Also tried out the Rapha Embrocation for the first time. Didn’t use much on my legs but, to use a phrase, it ain’t half hot mum! Great while you are riding and racing, not so great for standing around afterwards before riding back to the station. On the flip side I didn’t feel like I needed kneewarmers for the race and didn’t feel cold at any point. I’ll be reviewing that and their Chamois cream soon.
On the way home, after an abortive attempt to get my bike clean in the tub at Hog Hill, I stopped at the garage and, for all of two quid, got the bike almost perfectly clean with the jetwash. Best two quid I spent on Sunday.