Time to try something different!
Better late than never, I entered the very last round of the South London Summer Series Cyclocross race held in and around Herne Hill Velodrome. I don’t have a proper race bike or even clip-in shoes but I’d seen cross races online before and they looked like a lot of fun so I decided to have a go.
I rode my mountain bike, wore my running trainers and decided to bring an old helmet – just in case I crashed – I didn’t want to break my nice new Kask.
My team mate Charlie and I had time for one lap to practice before the course was closed ready for the race to begin.
It was a mass start affair so juniors, seniors, veterans and women were all in the same race. We started at the back as we weren’t there to be very serious but to have fun. The fast people went off, fast. and we all rolled along. Within a couple of laps everyone had spread out a little more and of course everyone was getting more confident on the course so everything became pretty smooth.
I normally save the video to last but I think it will give you a good idea of what was going on;
The course had some bumpy bits, berms, roots, a jump, really steep bits (once or twice I got stuck going up one – you’ll see the one i mean in the video) and some flat bits. The grassy sections around and within the velodrome were really slow on my mountain bike because the tyres are so big, but on the more technical bits I felt quite at home and reasonably confident of my bike.
I didn’t really know where I was in the race but I was really enjoying it and holding a steady pace. The men’s races were much faster than me and I often stopped to let the faster riders through the narrowerer sections. Everyone was really considerate and shouted a warning when they were coming up behind.
Sometimes in crit races the men’s race comes past in a big fast bunch and it can be quite intimidating. In the cross race, because a lot of the time you are riding singularly, this never really happened. Everyone also said thank you after being let through. There was definitely a very friendly atmosphere.
At the end of the race there was a barbecue and free beer and fruit. And surprisingly I had managed to come third in the women’s race! Perhaps I should do some more of this….