London Cyclocross League 2010/11 Round 2 Happy Valley Park

Matt at The Inner Ring has recently posted about Why he hates cyclocross as a spectator and Scott over on Velocast has replied with his reasons to love cyclocross as an activity, So I’m adding to the mix with why I love cyclocross as a competitor (I use that term advisedly).

London League Round 2 2010/11 by John Mullineaux

That’s me looking “competitive” shortly after being lapped for the umpteenth time. The picture is from Cross Crazy which is an excellent resource for all things cross related.

No matter how rubbish my result – a cursory glance would tell you “rubbish” is unduly kind to my performances – I never fail to enjoy the lung-busting, leg-searing rollercoaster hour that makes up a cross race.

I’ve been suffering a cold which has kept me off the bike, or at least off serious workouts. It had shifted enough to be bearable by the time I got on the train down to Brighton but still felt a little constricting.

Happy Valley Park is a new course and was largely open parkland with one hurdle and a rooty section of woodland that I couldn’t get my head round. That’s one of the joys of cyclocross:

  • If you make a hash of an obstacle you get several goes at getting it right on subsequent laps

So after the usual bunfight at the start and good-humoured wait for the first bottleneck to clear, it was down to finding my equals in the race. A group of about half a dozen riders who I would spend the next hour measuring my performance against.

  • In cross, you can always find a good race, no matter where in the field you are

Fo the first half hour I was able to hold the wheels and stay with a nice little group. Then my back pain flared up and I had to ease off.

About the same time I was lapped for the first time by the race leaders who were going as fast across the grass as I go on tarmac. I finished three laps down in the end which is about my usual distance back, so form is consistent.

After 45 minutes I was digging in, mostly to the bag of Colin the Catepillars in my pocket. TeeCee got hers, Stu and Conrad both missed theirs. See:

  • In a cross race, you can have a bit of fun and hand out sweets as you race along with encouragement.

I was, however, very glad when it was over because my lack of training and fitness was starting to tell and I was flagging a bit.

I love cyclocross largely because:

  • The racing is competitive
  • The racing is positive and not the “sit in until the sprint” of 4th Cat racing
  • It’s mixed ability and no one minds if you’re not Sven Nys
  • It’s great for handling skills
  • It’s all about keeping up that intense level of effort that gives you punch on the road in summer
  • It’s far less boring that turbo-training or “winter miles”
  • It’s far more social that road racing
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