2023 SCX#1 Kinneil

The new cx season kicked off at Kinneil House near Bo’ness, with warmish and mostly dry weather. I got there early and had a chance to watch the vet50’s and womens’ races and suss out any tricky corners. By and large, it was similar course to last year. Woodland climb into pump track, the zigzags across and up/down a slope before long power drags on rutted bumpy grass, a little rootsy woodland section and one muddy corner. The tight hairpin and chicanes in the middle of the lap which I quite enjoyed had sadly vanished. Decent course with plenty of space, but definitely one that favours “power” roadies, rather than hill-climbing technical mtb’ers like me.

They gridded every rider based on last year’s performances – which is awesome, so much better than the mad scramble of yesteryear. I started maybe 60% down the field, and made up a fair few places in the melee off the start line and up the first hill climb. But once we got onto the flat power sections, I was way outclassed. There are just many riders who can do the ‘pushing the pedals hard’ thing better than me. My race settled into a pattern where I’d lose a place every lap to someone on the flat (suffering, suffering on the rutted grass sections) then catch up with them on the hill climb, before they pulled away for good on the flat. Rinse and repeat for five laps. I had a few front-wheel slides on hairpins, but recovered them all. On the final lap, a gaggle of 4 riders caught up and passed me. Most pulled away, but one rider made the cardinal sin of not gapping me quickly enough and so I chased them down on the final upslope and tried for a full-on sleath sprint to the line. Unfortunately, I wasn’t stealthy enough and the other rider also gave it maximum beans and he managed to keep his position. But a fun moment to end the race with! (though I did nearly lose the contents of my stomach afterwards .. truly a maximum effort sprint …).

Results-wise, I was 43rd out of 56 vet40 racers, so 77th percentile. That’s actually worse than last time at Kinneil (74th percentile) despite the fact that I did loads of volume/distance rides with Portovelo over the summer, and was pushing hard throughout the race. Strava claims that my average was 11mph this year vs 10mph last year so I’m taking that as some measure of progress.

Next up is Irvine Beach in a fortnight. I should practise running up steep hills beforehand!