November 27th cyclocross race was my first time at Kinneil, just outside of Bo’ness. In addition to its cyclocross palmares, it’s also the location where James Watt worked on his steam engines – pretty cool!
A quick sighting lap revealed a nice mixture of twisty muddy hilly turns near the start, some long power sections in the middle, and an awesome woodland up-and-down incorporating a pump track. The default tyres which came on my new race bike weren’t handling the muddy bits, so I opted to change tyres to the Limus (tubed) set I got years ago at put them at 36PSI. This was slightly stressful given lack of time and the muddy state of everything, but the new tyres gave much more grip. I even ended up deliberately pushing the front harder and harder into the chicane turns to see where the limit was – they were that grippy.
I was gridded about 2/3rd of the way down. Off we shot around the first few turns onto the straight. On my warmup lap, I’d scouted out if the far left and far right of the track was rideable (it was) and so when everyone else bottlenecked for the next corner, I changed off the main line and passed about 10 people in one move.
The rest of the race was spent being steadily repassed by these 10 riders, who turned out to be fitter and faster than me in the long run. But it was a fun track, and on the technical sections and grip-limited sections I’d pull ahead – although eventually I’d lose out on the long power drags. I found that pedalling throughout the corners helped me judge the grip level and despite a few “drifting” moments I remained upright throughout.
By the last lap, I’d found my steady position in the race. I could see the guy chasing me, but knew that if I pushed a bit I’d maintain the gap and hold onto my position. Overall, I felt pretty good throughout the race and was able to push a steady pace and turn on the power for the climb each lap. So it was slightly disappointing to only finish 40th out of 54 (74%) given how good I’d felt.
Takeaways? Once again, it’s mainly the flat/power sections that I lose out most. I realised that perhaps all the fun zwift races I’d been doing weren’t the best kind of training. I ought to be focusing on more structured training – over/under intervals and threshold work, rather than the typical “medium pace then crazy pace” that most zwift races are.
Anyhow, thumbs up for Kinneil CX – great course and enjoyed the race!