First Time Cyclocross

So with the end of my triathlon season happening at the start of September and 4 weeks of real easy training I was looking for something new for my competitive edge over the winter months. Seeing the new Ribble 7005 CX frame arrive in the warehouse I started plotting whether this would be right for me. My thoughts behind this were I would be able to use my old mountain bike skills but also use the opportunity to scrub up some of my triathlon skills (dismounting/mounting, pacing) but most of all have a bit of fun, with no pressure.

Ribble CX Bike

So with frame, forks and cantilever brakes taken home, my first CX bike was built up out of spares that were lying around, a proper Frankenstein bike. The usual ‘kid at Christmas’ test was done, with a few laps up and down the street and a ride to and from work and I was excited to get the bike dirty. My first impressions were the bike was quite ‘lively’ and very responsive.

My next task was to find a race and my first port of call was the British Cycling website where you can search for all races in your local area. It was on here I came across the North West Cyclocross Association (http://nwcca.org.uk/) and their league of races and thinking I may as well just jump in at the deep end and decided to head over to Round 4 being organised by Rossendale Road Club at Landgate Quarry which had been penned as ‘100% cyclocross’ and from watching a video the organisers had put on the website I was expecting to get very wet and very muddy.

Arriving about an hour before my advertised start time of 12:45pm (very civilised time when I’m used to anything around 8am for triathlon) I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming everyone was, the ladies in the registration tent offered me advice on the course, gave me my race numbers and a handful of chocolates. With not much else to do I decided to go and have a look at the course, so with a little trepidation I set off only expecting to get around about half of the course. My experience from mountain bike racing had me believing a lap would be about 20-30mins long and would head out away from the registration area so when I ended up back at the start in just over 10mins I was again pleasantly surprised. Before all the seniors got to race it was the turn of the youths, U12, U10 and U8, who had a shorter course all within eyesight of the start/finish. The support and encouragement these youngest received was incredible. Any child on any bike was encouraged to give it a go, there were your more serious youngsters on their race bikes right down to the young girl on her fixed wheel bike with her pink wellies on.Ribble CX Climb

Before I knew it, it was my turn, so lining up with the other women and the Vet and Vet+ men I decided to just see what happened, enjoy myself but also try and race hard. The race format for cyclocross is different to most. The race duration for me was 40mins plus one lap, so once the leaders were getting close to or past 40mins the bell would be rung for each competitor and we would all have one lap left.

Ribble CX Finish Line

The course was quite hilly and raced over moorland so the terrain was grassy and after the first couple of laps sapped your energy. I felt like I got a good start and passed a few people on the first climb which had a sharp left hand bend at the top which acted as a bottleneck and after my first lap I was told I was in second place, now all I had to do was hold onto that for another 30mins. Unfortunately at the start of the 4th lap I was passed and found myself to be in third and with the bell being rung for one more lap at the end of that lap this is where I finished. To say I was happy would be an understatement. I had thoroughly enjoyed my first cyclocross experience, I was covered in mud, had one of the best workouts in a long time and was most definitely looking forward to my roast chicken tea.

Ribble CX Sarah

Results and course video;

http://nwcca.org.uk/2014/10/rossendale-road-club-cyclocross-nwcca-round-4-results/

The Ribble 7005 CX frame withstood all the course had to throw at it and didn’t look too bad doing it. Now to find my next race….

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