CX, Cycling, Cyclocross, Training

#13 London X League


Round 13 | Bethlem | 5th January 2014

  • Weather: fresh
  • Course: Very muddy! Muddy fields, muddy wood, deep mud (up to my hubs/axles!) One tree log
  • Highlight: getting confident on mud
Photo by Moran Photography

This was the most muddy! At one point I rode through a really deep section and the mud was right up to my wheel axles. I had to get off and push.

There has been a lot of rain recently and the course was water-logged. I got a steady sighting lap in before grouping at the start line ready for the go. There were quite a few girls (and people generally) here today – perhaps a mixture of no National Trophy races mixed with New Year resolutions. As a result there were at least four riders at the start line that I predicted would be fighting for the win in the women’s race. Therefore I decided that I would focus today’s race on having fun and getting better at riding in wet conditions. It was a social start line and I had a good chat with a couple of girls whilst we waited to start. We came to the decision that we would have fun and remember to let the front wheel lead through the deep mud/rutted sections.

Claire chasing down Anett. Photo by British Cycle Sport

Once the top men were gridded all the women were called forward with the remainder of the field behind us. The bell went and we were off. The course was straight and wide for the first few metres but then went into a 90 degree left hand turn that was already pretty muddy and slidey. I am a bit cautious of turning on mud at speed so I’ll admit I was half-hearted in my initial burst away from the line. I lost some valuable spaces but we were soon in a wooded section where the mud was deep and sandy. This type of mud really grabs at your wheels and it feels like you’ve suddenly put your brakes on hard – if you’re not ready for the sudden reduction in speed it can throw you off. A few turns and sharp dips/rises and we were back on a flat but muddy field.

Whilst a wet field is generally quite smooth and there are no sharp turns (unless the course has been designed to have zig-zags!) the surface is very loose and you can easily lose your front wheel if you don’t make your turns smoothly and with your weight balanced nicely. As the race progresses and the ground gets churned up ruts can develop which ‘catch’ your wheel and it is important to relax and let your bike go where it likes rather than trying to guide the bike yourself otherwise it is much harder.

The Seniors coming in for the win. Photo by British Cycle Sport

A few sweeping turns of the field, through a glade of trees, a short stretch of pavement and then the course entered a boggy wood section. Deep puddles and thick mud made the going tough here although, by choosing your line carefully, it was possible to retain a reasonable impetus. (One lap I made a very bad choice and got completed bogged down in a deep section of mud losing a few seconds getting it all unstuck and remounting).

There was turn followed by a short dip coming up to a tree log barrier. I have not learnt to bunny hop more that a kerb so I have to dismount for this obstacle although some of the more experienced riders were able to ride straight over it.

How to take on a log. Photo by British Cycle Sport

A few more turns in the muddy wood led on to a prolongued field section. The top part of the field was very dug up and even in my very lowest gear it was an effort to pedal. I probably would have been quicker carrying the bike over this section.

The field then became a little easier although with the surface water/mud it was still important to find the firmest ground (normally in the middle) and maintain a steady pedaling motion to minimise losing grip. If you had any energy left after fighting the mud then this part was where you could speed up and gain back time.

The grave section
Photo by British Cycle Sport

After a few turns and a mire of a gateway the course passed through the final field and back into woods. There was a right turn through a deep puddle and then a quick section of ‘grave’ type pathway followed by a sharp couple of turns towards the grassy (now muddy) finish line.

Although I set out from the start to have a good time I actually found myself doing quite well and although I didn’t expect to catch the leading riders I gradually took back the riders in front of me until I was running in fifth place. Midway through I was very excited to overtake Sophia Joy but then later saw her walking back to the pits so I can’t really say that I genuinely overtook her as she was obviously having a mechanical difficulty or some such. However this put me in fourth place and I’m very pleased with how I did in this race as the top three places were taken by girls who ride the National Trophy.

Badger and Tom came down to the course to watch and Badger did some sterling work at digging a very deep hole. If you listen carefully in the video you will hear Tom cheering for me 🙂

Video by British Cycle Sport

Sadly the next two rounds of the league have been cancelled due to course conditions being swamped by the recent rain/too damaged by previous races to host another. So that means two weeks off until the final round in February before the Team Champs.

Pos Name Team Time Gap Lap 1 Lap 2 Lap 3 Lap 4 Lap 5
1 Claire Beaumont Vicious Velo 50:19:00 8’14” 10:04 09:50 09:55 10:07 10:22
2 Louise Mahe Mule Bar Girls 51:47:00 10’02” 09:42 09:46 09:58 10:37 11:42
3 Anett Deli Cyclelabs 52:22:00 10’37” 10:03 09:47 10:03 10:45 11:41
4 Alice Miller Look Mum No Hands 42:33:00 1 lap 11:13 10:05 10:17 10:58
5 Hannah Ormesher North Road CC 46:37:00 1 lap 10:47 11:58 12:05 11:46
6 Jane McInnes London Dynamo 47:00:00 1 lap 11:23 11:23 12:07 12:07
7 Rachel Brown Luna Chix 48:28:00 1 lap 11:45 11:24 12:15 13:03
8 Katie Burgess Oscar Bravo 49:51:00 1 lap 13:35 11:52 12:08 12:15
9 Charlotte Haywood Unattached 52:10:00 1 lap 13:06 12:18 13:11 13:34
10 Trischa McLatchie Unattached 47:07:00 2 laps 14:04 15:48 17:14
DNF Sophia Joy PMR @ Toachim 10:18 10:36

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