Last weekend I saw in the newspaper that there was a cyclo cross race being held close to where I live. I have never seen one of these but some of my friends tell me that they use it as part of their winter training regime. And so I decided to wander along and see what it was all about. The event was Round 5 of the Notts and Derby Cyclo Cross League and was held in Allestree Park in Derby. Whilst there had been some rain on the previous few days, the race day itself was fine with occasional glimpses of sun.
Cycling seems to be booming in Derbyshire and before the main event got underway, Cycle Derby , an organization aimed at promoting cycling for all ages, ran some mini cyclo cross events for newcomers to the sport and attracted about 100 people.
The main event consisted of 4 events and first up was the Under-9 race. I was amazed to see that the youngest rider was only 3 years old and he was pedalling! About 65 children took part in this and, though the hill was very minor it still seemed very steep for those with little legs
An abiding memory from the day was that Cyclo Cross is very much a family affair, and the announcer emphasized this fact with his many references to this or that clan, and reminiscences of the old timers whose progeny were there racing to-day.
The local clubs are obviously training their young stars well and there were many examples of teamwork with riders working to-gether to share the load between them
I keep off all this rough stuff, and as the races proceeded the rough stuff got rougher as the ground began to churn up and riders began to slip and slide and the bikes themselves started to get hammered under the strain. Not all could withstand this battering from the elements and so for some their race ended early.
n total there were about 180 riders in the main junior events and I admire them all for both their enthusiasm and the efforts they put in.
The senior race consisted of around 220 riders with a women’s race of about 25 contestants embedded within the field. Seniors seemed to range in age from the exceedingly fit 20 year olds to those of much more mature years, though I did not spot any old age pensioners reinforcing my personal view that this was not an event for me! I was also amazed to see that many, if not all, the riders had two bikes, plus spare sets of wheels and the pit area was chocked full of bike porn.
I had seen disc brakes on bikes before but have never been a fan, being worried that they may be too severe and catapult me over the bars; but as I watched the riders race around the course and saw how their bikes changed colour from, say, electric blue to muddy blackish brown I began to understand the advantages that discs could bring. The derailleur gears also seemed to get clogged up and battered, especially through the wooded sections where the attempts to highlight the roots with white paint soon proved to have been a futile effort
As the race proceeded and riders became progressively more tired, the strain began to show on their faces. The ruts got deeper, the mud more slimey but they all battled on
Well done to them all. For me a great day out and thanks to all the organizers for putting on such an event which attracted over 600 people riding during the day
But I am still going to stick to just watching :-)