Not the most auspicious start to my resumption of cyclocross racing – I snapped the chainstay on my race bike less than two weeks ahead of the first race. I initially looked at just replacing the frame like-for-like but the equivalent frame now has through-axles not quick-release, so piling on the cost of new wheels meant that it made more sense to get a new bike. Thankfully PlanetX put it together quickly and I had it a few days ahead of the race. My test ride revealed I hadn’t tightened up the seat clamps enough. That would’ve been exciting to discover during a race!
Lochore Meadows is flat and often muddy. Rain fell on Friday and Saturday but the sun was shining on race day and the surface held up quite well. No real mud, just ‘brown grass’ on the spiral. I decided to stick to the vanilla tyres that came with the bike rather than switch to mud. There was a fair amount of hardpack and tarmac outside of the spiral to clear tyres. And in fact it wasn’t a very grip-limited course.
Everyone was gridded (first time I’ve been in a race where that happened), and the bottleneck going into the woods for the first time was less of a bottleneck than usual. I made up a few places as people slid out or fluffed gear changes, but quickly settled down to my own pace.
I had a few back+forths with people who’d pass me on the spiral but then be slow through the more technical bits – barriers and steps. Taking a few extra running steps after the stairs and barriers was good idea, let the bike stabilise after you’ve put it on the ground.
On the final spiral (although I didn’t know it was final time) I got fed up towing people, so I slowed to encourage one to pass, 2nd person also slowed, then 3rd person sprinted and I then had to chase their wheel. Unfortunately for me, they were just faster than me and I couldn’t stick. I guess that confirms that they were just sitting on my wheel saving energy waiting to race away at the end.
Was flat out all race, pushing on to close up on a wheel in the spiral, or to pass someone before a narrow section.
Finished 43rd out of 55 starters, 78th percentile. But back racing at last! I couldn’t have went any faster in the race – it was a power course and I lack power. What would’ve made a difference? Just stronger legs – the fast guys are x% faster than me on all sections of the course. I’ve mostly been doing zwift races, Arthurs Seat laps and Glentress to regain fitness. Probably doing some structure intervals would be a good idea (but I much prefer doing zwift races in my practise time).
Next race will be SCX#4 at Irvine.