Today was the second of the winter cyclo-cross (CX) racing Cross Fire Cup in Adelaide and being a Sunday I could give it a go. It wasn't my first time. I started last winter (with this report) and a couple of goes during the Twilight series in summer. Regular racers CLP was in the open class on his MTB, Rob Rau on his skinny tyres and Paul Z, Chris Mack, Gemma K, Dstone and many others pinned on a number to have a go at what was a new course design at a new location - the western parklands between Don Bradman Drive and the cemetery. Lots more ups and downs, more mud thanks to recent rain and a really long lap.
Everyone seems to be getting CX bikes but my biggest commitment was to get some Schwalbe CX Comp tyres to fit - just - on my old Giant OCR and with some packing under the dropouts I gained a little bit more clearance on the front, not so much on the rear but I thought some is enough... little did I know!
A cold start from home was soon eased by sunshine at the venue and a reckky lap got the pulse up but there was still a bit of a wait before racetime which was dampened by showers. Kara, Spaticus and Snappy Don and Snappy Jnr came to check out the racing and thankfully too because 5 mins before race-time while having a chat to Dstone about by converted bike I discovered my tyre was a bit soft - pumping air into it only made me realise it was escaping as fast as I was pumping so with the help of 'team race director' Snappy Don we quickly changed my tube and with a minute to go I made it to the line.
Racing CX is not like anything else, not even mountain biking and today it gave up everything a proper 'Euro' cyclo-cross course should have - mud, wet grass, mush, dips, walls to climb, jumps, spirals. This is the course area that will be ridden in the Nationals coming up soon so it has to be tough.My opinion is CX racing is lost in the cornering and the dismount/ remounting and that's something to work on for me.
With go for C/B and women's grades also came the heaviest shower of the morning but it seemed like nothing compared to concentrating on not letting wheels slide out on the wet ground and thankfully having CX tyres did help a lot. My pace stayed pretty good staying within 20 or so meters of Rob. By the middle of the second lap my cleats were jammed with mud and clipping in was near impossible, I took a tumble on a tough off camber corner and lost contact with Rob. The 'mud wall' was even muddier. The second climb of this challenging obstacle I'd learnt to stick to the side where there was still some grass. Unfortunately for one of my competitors they couldn't get a foothold and his MTB was significantly heavier so I managed to get ahead and make for the line. Two laps, that was enough! (The A grade rode 6 laps)
In reality after my last go at CX in the summer I wasn't really looking forward to it. I was demoralised by that attempt and during my warm up today I thought all I wanted to do was get around and have some fun. But I did a bit better than I expected coming in 2nd behind Rob Rau.
IF you want to read a more expansive report check out the actual results report from the CX.PACC.ORG.AU page here.
Come along and have a go. It's just a bit of fun, or just come and watch and help me change my flats... and maybe I am googling for CX bike frames... maybe.