Sunday, October 02, 2011

2011 Ulster Cyclocross Series - Round 1 Lurgan

Its off-season, its off-season, its off-season... cyclocross doesn't count... does it?

After a long hard season I've been taking it easy. I rode the bike a little but mostly as a mode of transport to get to coffee shops. Most of my scars that have not had the chance to heal from my various knocks with tarmac and dirt over the year are starting to fade. In one way I like the off-season, well, during the season when I'm tired and drained (not much of the time, but sometimes) the thought of reaching off-season keeps me going – you look forward to it, and heaven forbid – some beers!

Once I hit off-season though, I quickly get tired of it and want to ride more again. Last year Mel and I went to Peru for 3 weeks as part of our postponed honeymoon during October – no bikes, but we still remained active – it was really good for us. This year I'm in Ireland and after seven days, I'm already itching to get going again. Basically, I love riding my bike – it I wasn't racing, I would be still riding my bike – possibly more!

Anyway – even though I'm taking it easy, it has just become cyclocross season – one hour of fun racing in the mud. The first race was been held in Lurgan which until 48 hours ago would have been a bone dry, super fast track – Ireland being Ireland – it rained for the 36 hours before the race making it a muddy, sliddery affair. I don't think I have actually raced or ridden in proper mud for about a year now.

A large field gathered at 1pm for our start and from the gun it was frantic as we all skiddered (yes, I did mean to say skiddered!) around the course. After a lap there was a group of five of us at the front – Roger Aiken was looking strong and the former National Champ kept the pressure on and rode away. The rest of us battled for a while but eventually the elastic broke and at the halfway point I was in solo pursuit of Roger.

Thank goodness for the 'bike wash'
He was flying and I wasn't going to catch him (Mel gave me a warning that I must be smiling in every photo otherwise I'm not allowed to race any more cross) – that and my bike sounded like it was going to explode meant I nursed it around for the final lap and a half finishing second. The previous years winner, Matt Adair, came in in third.

A great course, great organization, great food afterwards – what more could I ask for seven days into the 'off-season'.

Photos via the Belgian Project and thanks to Sean Downey for the lift to and from the race.

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