Hail, hail, hail. Oh!

Winter is here but that apparently is not the sort of thing to stop the hardened cyclocross loon. Not even a freezing gale, hail and a course that turned into muddy hell midway through the race at Brighton’s Stanmer Park.

Travelling down with Rusty it looked fresh but not freezing, a notion we were soon disabused of the moment we opened the doors and felt the icy blast. According to Rusty it’s fine once you get warmed up. My point that it was getting warmed up that would be the problem fell on deaf ears. He finished 3rd, I finished 74th, so you can see there might be something in his advice.

And to the race: I went off hard, nearly ran into a post as I charged up the inside. Then promptly went backward through the first corner. That cost me too many places as I managed to hold up quite well up the hill and not go right to the back. I need to work on that first section of the race as it seems to be very important to get through the first pinch point as far forward as you can.

There was a nasty headwind across the hill but it was across up the hill and into the real pain of the course which was soft grass that just felt heavy going. A swoop down through the trees and then a horrid, muddy run which had me at a standstill straight away and gasping for air.

I don’t like the running bits but I have been talked into running by a friend so will try and improve on this bit. My dismounts and remounts are getting pretty good – I can put a couple of metres into people on a remount and pedal away – and I can skip over the hurdles well but the run-ups really hurt me.

Some nice fast downhill bits that I hammered while it was dry but when the rain started coming down on the third lap they got rather treacherous, as did most of the course. My handling isn’t bad and I can chuck the bike about fairly comfortably but I was feeling a bit cocky and lightheaded.

Which is why on about the sixth lap I attempted to throw the bike through the slow infield corners in a BMX/Speedway skid turn to see if I could get though them a bit more aggressively. I couldn’t and ended up in a heap, instantly regretting trying to be a smartarse. But, having lost a few places and been lapped by a few more people, I got up and carried on.

Once you’ve fallen over you end up riding one of two way: like you’re made of glass or like you are made of titanium. I went with the latter and thus ensured that on one of the fast downhill corners on my final lap I managed to come a complete cropper and go flying all over the place. The spectator who ran over to check I was OK said it was spectacular, which it certainly felt.

I limped round to the finish and was glad that it was over. Getting changed next to the car in the freezing rain wasn’t fun mind.

Sorry this post has fizzled out a bit as I’ve spent all evening writing it in between doing other stuff that should have been done at the weekend which I neglected (laundry, admin, emails etc).

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