#DOACC – So what now?!

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So. Cyclocross season’s over. In fact, for most domestic racers, it was over a few weeks ago. Sure, there are a few “fun” (and I use the inverted commas advisedly, they’re definitely still competitive, and the weather at this time of year is arguably the least conducive to racing) end of season madison races, where you can be justifiably ashamed of your handsling skills. The “serious” competition ends on the second weekend in January with the national champs, this year on a superb course in Abergavenny. Both Rachel and I raced, and we both recorded results that put us, well, pretty much where we belong (19th & 34th respectively). I was chuffed to be in any state to race after my knee issues (see previous #DOACC), so I don’t mind admitting that knocking a few spots off last year’s result was a pleasant surprise. With all that out of the way, though, our weekends for the foreseeable future are looking a bit, well, empty.

Even staying upright on two feet was starting to prove tricky on this off-camber turn. Photo credit – Richard Bennett

So what now? Well, like a few, but by no means all cyclocross racers, our focus shifts towards the spring and summertime. For us, the warmer months bring participation in the diametric opposite of cx; mountain bike marathon racing. But that doesn’t mean that the cx bikes are already sitting mouldering in the back of the shed, far from it in fact; they’re a great way to train for longer, more endurance-y racing too. Rachel’s weekend race rig, albeit with different wheels, is also her getting-to-work bike, her weekend road training bike, and her “i just fancy an hour of fooling around in the woods” bike. When there’s ice on the roads, and snow on the ground, I’m also one to use a cx bike to commute, with the extra width of the tyres giving me a bit more margin for error on my 44 mile ride trips. And then there’s the exploration possibility…ride on the road, spot a trail, follow, get lost, curse, hike up a bank, back to a road, repeat!
Frozen trails make for faster, fun riding when riding on the road would just be scary!

Taken about 2 miles from Benson airfield, regularly the coldest place in the UK, and recorded -8C on this particular night!

I love this time of year, and not just for the fact that the nights are getting lighter, and winter’s grip feels like it’s beginning to lift. It’s nice to get back to basics, and just riding a bike again, albeit with a few more layers than might be considered ideal (rinsing the waterproof shorts after every nutella-mud offroad ride around here is getting a little tiresome) but it’s worth it to spend less time on the turbo trainer and more time out in the big wide world. I have a bit of an edge on Rachel in these stakes at the moment, as it happens, having recently come to the end of my contracted time at UCL. I now have a couple of months to decompress (decompose?), sort out my work, and get ready for my next steps in a new post. Which is doubly nice because I can roll out of the door at 10am, get a nice 3hrs on the trails in and then come home to work when it’s dark. Who needs a job anyway?!
The Ridgeway is a great way to connect up different bits of the Chilterns without using the black stuff…

And suddenly, it almost looks like summertime!

I might have misled you slightly. So there was one more cx race in our calendar. The fantastically-named “LoveCrossed” took place on Valentines Day and as the resident ‘cross couple’ we had to take part in the couples relay that formed part of the proceedings. The kiss and a cuddle handover could have been awkward for the fake couple (two of the senior men’s racers) but they seemed to get in the spirit of things and unsurprisingly went on to finish first. Later disqualifying themselves for not actually being a couple, we were able to stand on the top step of the podium and can look forward to riding over to the Blue Zucchini cafe come the spring to spend our prize. In the sunshine. Well, maybe…
Such a cool place for a race! The flinty corner that killed one of my poor Dugasts dead :(. (Photo credit: Scot Easter)