I just got back from Cyclcross Nationals in Shrewsbury with The 5th Floor boys – Rudy, Alex and top don photographer, Jon. As I’m the new kid, I’ve got the honours of writing up what I thought of the weekend.
Cyclocross Nationals are always a madness. You get the pre-national jitters through out the week – prepping bikes, yourself, staring at the weather forecast. I know many who get the pre nationals blocked nose and sore throat. I got the pre nats shits.
CX Nationals were my first race of the Cyclocross season. It was pretty much my first proper race since snapping my Clavicle in September. So I basically had no expectations of myself, other than that I was probably going to suck. The best thing you can do in a situation like that is just chill out, have some jokes, and take notes on where you need to improve.
I can’t speak for the rest of the boys, but I had a pretty jokes time on my first trip with a few of my new team mates. Good tunes, take away Nando’s, a trip to the cinema, playing in the mud. It’s pretty cool to be so welcomed into a team, I really appreciate how good they’ve been to me already. You can’t get much more love than someone offering to be your pit man. Cleaning your bike and handing you a fresh one every lap! It’s harder than racing sometimes I’m sure of it. Thanks a lot Rudy.
Come race day, the usual stuff – eat breakfast, talk about the bone heads making noise at 4am, question what makes someone allowed to call what they make ‘Artisan’? What the hell is Artisan water anyway? We eventually got to the course. Basically it was a bunch of people carrying their bikes around knee deep in mud. Then someone said to me – “don’t bother doing a lap, you won’t gain anything. There’s a lot of running too.” Great. I hate running, I’m crap at it, it was obvious the day was going to be hard.
Not racing once in the 2015/16 season, I was gridded a few from last. I hoped it could only get better. My kit looked pretty rad, so that was a start. The whistle went and we were off. I’ve always loved Cyclocross starts, it’s a chance to get your elbows out and have some fun. First laps have always been something I’m quite good at, but I probably moved up more than I should of.
After the first 2 sections of running, I was what only can be described as, fucked. Once back on the bike for more than 2 minutes, (which was rare on that course.) I would feel alright and move up a good few places, whilst having a great time doing so. Then we would start running again. Unfortunately my weaknesses in running, out weighed my strengths on the bike. My running really took a turn for the worse when the plate on my clavicle started getting compressed into the bone from the weight of the bike + mud. I basically ended up being a right noob running with my bike alongside me – it’s not efficient, it doesn’t look cool.
As the race went on, more people ran past me. Very few rode past me though, especially not in the techy wood section, which is nice. I won’t lie, I cracked, I was fed up and thinking of the excuses to get myself off the course. Then I asked myself if my name was Barry, which it isn’t, so I kept going. The fact that the jet wash was broken and Rudy was still handing me up fresh bikes lap on lap was actually enough to keep me slogging away to get lapped. Thankfully with 2 laps to go the boys who a couple years ago I was battling for wins with, started to come past me to start their last lap. Before the race it was something I dreaded. But on that course and that day, it was a very welcomed site to pull over and watch them go past. No lies, I ran up the steps faster than Ian Field, even had to slow down for him. He had done them a whole 1 more time than I had to be fair. Over the line, off to the showers a couple laps early.
I sound pessimistic as hell, but I just really hate running. In reality there’s a lot of positives to take from that race. That course and race was so hard, it really brings out who is the best prepared and ready for the challenge. Honestly, I’ve done everything I could possibly do to not be prepared for such an event, the results show that. But I did alright really. When I think about it, there’s a solid foundation (despite the running) to build a very fit and strong rider for the next season, and a top 10 at next years champs, really isn’t far fetched at all. But first of all there is a great summer of racing to do be done with the 5th floor boys. I’m really excited to be in a team of riders and friends, who are riding for the right reason – to enjoy. Going on rides and doing some so called training is going to be a lot easier with them. I really am honoured to be apart of such a great team.
So after a burger kings and some jokes in the van on the way home, that’s pretty much it. I can not thank Rudy, Alex and Jon enough for such a great weekend. They were all brilliant. Alex rode wicked in his first ever nationals and learnt a massive amount I’m sure. Rudy out done himself in looking after us and bossing it in the pits. Jon took a brilliant collection of photographs that I’m sure you will all enjoy, I did.