Friday night racing at Mallory Park this week, it’s a motor racing circuit but there was no tarmac involved. A warm, bright if slightly windy night and all the usual suspects there including Phil (Papa) Roach who is a legendary quick starter in the National CycloCross world.
The start was up a steep gravel track into a tight tricky entry onto the spectator banking grass. This looked a potential crash zone to me so when the gun went I prepared to fly. I hate cold starts especially up hill so I was suprised to reach the top level with Slash, he moved ahead onto the grass and Papa followed.
Sensing Smiffy behind me and not wanting to hold him up I waved him past, at this point I felt like I was spent, then tons of riders came swarming past, one of them I focused on being Mike Winters/WVW, this years main adversary for me. he pulled away like I was standing still and my inner self consoled me that on this yet another pedally course that I could hope he tired later. The gap grew quickly to 500 yards…uh oh.
After the first lap I blasted through the moto-X jumps and into the flat out wooded section, really smoking and feeling better. Suddenly Mike was just in front of me, pedalling ok so he must have had a crash. the next few tight corners confirmed this as he struggled round with an obvious lack of confidence. I went past and decided to go for it this time, not letting him recover.
Next lap I was caught by Grand Vet Tim Stone, this gave me the hurry up and I tucked in. Realising I must have eased off, or he tired I pulled away. Now i was really nailing the wooded bits, Pegasus flying and really handling faultlessly except for one walking pace slow section. This is the first real time I have cursed the wagon wheels, but others looked just as slow.
By the last lap I’d caught the other two fast Grand Vets, Martin Eadon and Pete Harris and disposed of them, happy that I was going as fast as I have done for several years in this series. So 4th on the night, Papa showed good form and didn’t tire when Smiffy passed him for 2nd. Mike held on for 5th so I grabbed another 1 point on him to hold overall 3rd, but its still tight.