Onto a weekend of burlycrossing proper. Starting with a local trip to the Central CX league round 2 at Kettering. I rode over the 10 miles which didnt act as a great warmup as the NW wind was biting hard. Fellow Plumz riders James and Smiffy were there too, with a few FNSS regulars including fellow Vet Steve and Endurance king Ant White. This was going to be a good test of skinny tyres versus 26 fat treads.
The course had a short wood section and some bumpy singletrack with a few steep bank drops thrown in, but was mainly sucky soft grass. A few 180 deg corners to test the grip too. The start pitched us all in together, I got caught behind a guy who could not clip in and the race for the first bank drop was lost. Dropping in behind Smiffy for a lap I got warmed up and then feeling good dropped him and went after Ant White ahead. This didnt feel to bad, the Raze’s were rolling well if a bit sketchy in the corners and a bit of speedy obstacle jumping even had me pulling clear of Ant for a whole lap.
He rallied though and pulled another vet up to form a three man group, we traded places for a lap then Ant pulled clear and try as I could I could not bridge the gap. Felt super strong till the end, the fact it ran for an hour suited me, and even put in a last lap spurt to pull well clear of the closing challengers. 1×9 gearing of a SRAM 11-25 cassette to the 31 T ring was no problem at all.
3rd Vet on the day and my first CX prize money, was definately a result. The fact that I beat Smiffy for the first time in many years and kept Ant in site was a real boost too. shame I had to do it again the next day though.
Sunday and an early start to the first round of the UK national CycloCross series. Round 1 at Abergavenny, a great little circuit that I’d managed a 16th place at about 6 years ago. Its a good combination of very tight slippery grass turns and off camber banks, and some sharp climbs to test your traction.
Warmup soon highlighted that the Maxxis Raze’s just could not cope here, the front was washing out way to quickly and the rear just would not take any power up the steep inclines. At least the gearing was OK! I decided to go with the Rocket Ron tubed on the Hope front and leave the Raze tubeless stans rear on mainly because I didnt want to swap gearing over and run the much heavier Hope rear.
Last row of the grid and a very tight start could only lead to one of two things, a big crash or a poor start. Knowing I would be below par after yesterdays blast I chilled and just accepted the lowly position. As it was I didn’t have the energy or inclination to attack and just went for a ride.
The rear Raze was a mistake, I could chuck the front into tight corners and slide the rear round OK, but the uphill grip was almost non existent from the centre continuous tread and more than once I span out to a stop and lost places. It wasn’t untill the last lap when I went for a more four cross foot out style to keep the weight even lower that I found the best option and then passed 2 riders, whilst being just lapped by the winner Darren Atkins. Definately a learning rather than a racing day. I’m not sure if the Raze’s have a use this winter though, more tyres please.
34th gets me a few rows up the grid next time which was part of the plan, 46 starters so quite a few dropped out then. RD1 results . Target is a top 25 finish by the series end, and a way to try and improve my major weakness, quick starts! could be tough.