London League 2009/10, round 10 Hog Hill: muddier than Penshurst

Last week was Penshurst and one muddy hell that usually isn’t surpassed in the season. Hog Hill is new this season and now goes down as the muddiest fixture in the calendar.

Alex Murray racing at Hog Hill

As London Cyclesport puts it “The first cyclo cross race at this venue was held in some truly atrocious weather that brought heavy downpours in each race through the day.”

I was pretty darned rubbish this week, despite a newly-trued rear wheel and fresh brake pads. either my handling is getting worse or I need to believe in it a bit more.

Quick recommendation here for my LBS, Woolsey of Acton who did the wheel in a couple of hours for 15 quid at short notice (I walked in and asked).

Actually what did the damage was the heavy, heavy mud and how many bits needed to be run, including getting back up the Somme-like section about halfway round. I’ll admit to sitting down at least twice on a opportunely positioned stile to catch my breath. Matt Seaton was most bemused and James Wilson has suggested next time I should bring a briar pipe and some loose shag to make a proper job of it.

A few times I got into a good groove and was OK, but others it was red line/white line/blurred vision panic.

Of note is that the lap was much longer (or felt like it) than most of the ones we are used to. I wasn’t so sure beforehand but now I’m convinced it’s a good thing. It’s more distance for riders to spread over, fewer pinch points for lapped rider/leader conflicts and generally a bit less repetitive.

The next London League race isn’t for a few weeks so I’m switching back to road a bit for the Imperial Winter Series at Hillingdon. I’m going to be putting to the test Ridley’s marketing claim about the Crossbow: “Call it an entry-level cross bike if you want. We call it the ultimate backup racer here in Flanders, where a broken bike is never an excuse to drop out.”

I’m assuming they mean you can race on it in road races rather than as a backup cyclocross race bike. If I’ve misunderstood, Saturday will be “interesting”.

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