Wrecks and Mechs

A busy weekend with two days of racing, none of which went quite as well as it could. First a quick hello to Paul, a reader who races and who I met on Saturday at Hillingdon. It’s good to know there’s someone out there reading and finding it useful.

Now to Hillingdon, first race of 2008 for me. January was plagued by illness and holidays and I’m slightly amazed to find I failed to get out and race once in the entire month. I only realised this as we were lining up on a beautiful day – bright sunshine, relatively little wind and dry.

The traditional advice would be “Don’t try anything, just sit in and finish in the bunch”, but tradition and good advice are rarely to be found anywhere near where I am in a race. So guess who decided an ill-thought-out attempt to bridge up to a two man break in the later stages of the race? I’d managed to close down a couple of breaks earlier in the race and wasn’t feeling too bad when I started out across the gap. Halfway there and I was feeling strong. One look over my shoulder later and I was sitting up and waiting for the bunch having decided I wasn’t getting anywhere.

At this point I should have just slid back into the pack and admitted I wasn’t back to full fitness. Instead, I found myself going out the back rather fast and the taste of blood rising in my throat. Knowing I had another race on Sunday and that my fitness isn’t where it should be I packed. No point getting ill again trying to get fit.

Sunday was the London Cyclocross League Team Championship and I was in the B Team, hoping to be more than just making up the numbers. The journey out was simple enough: train from Liverpool St to Romford and a gentle enough ride up to Hainault Forest Country Park. So far so good, helped by unseasonal mild weather which meant not too much mud.

Then things went badly wrong. On a warm-up lap something went clunk into a corner and my rear mech hanger snapped. In and of itself, not a disaster. Except that as it snapped it wrapped the mech itself up into the back wheel, bending it into shapes that I’m fairly certain a rear derailleur isn’t meant to be. The positives would be that I can probably recycle the jockey wheels and possibly a couple of other parts. Unless of course I can find a way to replace just the cage bit – unlikely.

Luckily for me Russ had a spare bike and with a little adjustment for my size I could still ride. And ride I did, right into last place of the finishers, 4 laps down. It was such a poor performance I don’t even plan to shame myself by describing it.

After the race I managed to cobble together a chainline that would allow me to get back to the station and home again. It worked, albeit very slowly, a fact driven home this morning as I limped across town being passed by everyone and their three-legged dog.

Next weekend marks a year since my first proper race so I’ll be making the trip down to Chertsey again for the London Dynamo Beginners Series. If you are looking for a place to dip your toe into the waters of racing then I can’t recommend it enough – it’s a nice wide circuit and there’s plenty of riders on hand to introduce you to riding in a bunch. Come on down, you know you want to.

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