Combating the Crimble lethargy head-on, Jeremy and I both went for a trilogy of cross action over the Christmas/New Year period in an attempt to shake off some excess calories and get our heads together for jumping into the deep end at next weekends’ National Championships. As you will know if you have been following the Look Mum/Van Dessel team this winter, we have not had the best of luck, and though I have been back to racing for the last few weeks, this was to be Jeremy’s first outing with his new, more aerodynamic collar bone.
Boxing Day – Round 1
First up for us was the Wessex League cross run by Crabwood CC in Southampton on Boxing Day. I had not intended to ride this race, but having heard Jeremy was game, and having been fairly horizontal on the sofa for most of Christmas day, I was surprisingly eager to have a go myself.
It is amazing what an excess of cake and some ‘proper’ rest can do and I got stuck into the race with as much gusto as I had my dinner the day before. The course was interesting and quite technical with a lot of cornering, a nasty slope and a claggy muddy section through some woods that needed a bit of grunt. It seemed to be either up or down, and was great for working on some short, sharp efforts whilst trying to recover and relax through anything a bit more technical. Happily, I finished first woman, and waited in anticipation for Jeremy to arrive and get started.
The traffic had been pretty dreadful on the way down and Jeremy was following on in his van and seemingly had only just arrived in time, as I just caught sight of him putting his number on at the start. Having not seen the course and barely having drawn breath, he had a bit of a shocker, having difficulty clipping in and so setting off in luke-warm pursuit of the leaders. I next spotted Jeremy pulling over at the end of lap one, and thinking he might have encountered a mechanical I was poised to rush over and help out. Fortunately, I soon realised that unless Jeremy was having a mechanical with his shorts he had in fact pulled over to take a ‘natural break’, deciding that a full bladder on top of all that rushing around was definitely not going to help his chances. Needless to say, having done his best to get the most out of the event, Jeremy narrowly avoided the lantern rouge spot.
Things could only get better for Jeremy and so we both landed at Bexley CC’s Foots Cray cross the next day keen for another slice of the action. Completely the opposite from the previous days race the foots cray course is just hard, long and bumpy. There is nothing very technical to speak of, but the bumps and mole hills seem to only get tougher as fatigue sets into your back and core.
I had a good start and quickly got into a tussle for the lead with Leona Kadir of Sigma Sport. For several laps we were pretty much marking each other, but at about 40 mins or so Leona put me under some pressure and I was unable to follow. I had definitely run out of Christmas cake. With my race eventually running well over the hour I was glad for the bell and frankly might have stopped anyway had they not given it!
New Years Day Madison – the final frontier
After several days off the bike filled with festive family visiting, the first day of 2012 was to be marked by Olympian efforts at the Herne Hill Madison run by VCL. Part of the challenge of this race is securing a partner who will actually make it on the day, and I had bagged or been bagged by friend and British Cycling Coach John Scripps. Jeremy was at a loose end until our mutual friend Roger Hornsby stepped up to partner him for the race.
Often one of the hardest races of the year either because of the condition of the rider or the shortness of the efforts, the Madison is played out like the track event of the same name with ‘paired’ riders taking turns over the muddy course. A ‘changing’ area is designated for this exchange where you can ‘hand-sling’ your partner in if possible and then take a well-earned rest for a lap while they do their bit. My ‘rock’ was wrapped by Johns ‘paper’ and so it was down to me to face the hustle and bustle of the hectic start.
After a fun-filled hour and with the rain really beginning to come down, all that was left to do was to wash off our bikes and look forward to next weekends’ action. With the addition of Nik we should for the first time be fielding a full Look Mum No Hands/Van Dessel Team at the National championships in Ipswich. Wish us luck – we may need it!