Twas a busy weekend, the week(s) before Crossmas…..
We had riders in Mol racing the World Masters.
And a few tumbles at Ketters with medics applying plasters.
The Regionals entailed, a double header for some.
What a fantastic weekend for CCXL……all riders….WELL DONE….
Plus we had some riders sunning it in Mexico…..but I couldn’t find a word that rhymed with GITS…..
(On a serious note – Andy Lowe, I’m sure we speak for all the CCXL riders, get well soon mate)
I know….I know…..I’m wasted…..the Politzer Twitter account is literally tweeting me right now !! But come on….I’m a CX racer…..
Round 11 – KETTERING……The Big Dog……awesome warming up images started to spring up around mid week when Mark and his team were toying with us, posting images of singletrack…….droppers……techie sticky mud. I was swiftly on the blower to Kevvo…..virtually popping out of my pants in anticipation….this was squaring up to be one of the greats…..a course to remember….well certainly for Kevvo and I with our honed off road skillage ! We had been waiting for something of this off road ilk since Welwyn.
On arrival there was a slight twitchy bum moment when I spotted the 2m barriers, as this week we went full pro and brought a “Pit Bike”….I say pit bike it was mainly due to the fact I had Pats bike lying around the garage after some upgrades and thought it would be a great in-betweenie fit for Kevvo and I with a genius swap out of quick release seatpost collar and electricians tape ! BOOM. Ipso – Facto – Ergo – we’re now pros !
Good to see a solid brief was underway for the helpers…..slick !
Unpacking was military, cart out, bikes off, smell out, kit on….walk to sign on. Some more outstanding sights.
A fantastic bin with a fantastically placed lone glove giving the passer-bys….the finger !
A proper arty B&W no filtered image of a Commissaire back……
Someone in sign on had been using the BBH discount code (Also noticed Nikki T had a new colour on…..(you looked lovely I must add !)
Isla bikes had a fantastic show of their range, all laid out alphabetically in chronological size colour order….looked ace !
Super pleased to be signing on and picking up our higher than average gridding positions…..
Now…first things first…..the “Poo-bicles”……Kevvo and I tagged teamed this week, just to get it squared away on arrival….plus Kevvo was virtually touching cloth as soon as we arrived so he was almost running towards the football club house.
First up, there were a few choices thrown at us, 1) Changing rooms or 2) Out and out bogs….we chose the standalone shitters.
Cubicles – exceptionally clean, a pleasant contemporary yellow/ grey fusion on the interior wood work with an exceptional wipe clean foundation. More than an average amount of hanging space as shown below.
Now Kevvo upped the game here and knocked it out the park…..
He ventured into uncharted territory….the Holy Grail of Shite-Boxes, he went full poop-retard…..YEP – You guessed correct…..he went DISABLED ! (or as we call it…the Team Crapper) Uh – Oh…..for some this may be crossing the unpolitically incorrect line of the those unfortunate enough to have disabilities….but I can only apologise for his actions, and he assures me it was in the name of research (plus he also left the door open in case any one with a reel need could disturb him and simply walk in). Anyhow, brief summary…..more than adequate cleaning products and scented spray atomizer, well above average (as you would expect) SIZE for re-layering…proof below, great spray and hand wash combo…it was a full skin care management system (SCMS)
How many buffs can an adult actually wear…..
Next up, you know the drill…find a spot for maximum cheering. DONE, plus a decent size bike park !
Kids kitted out, George raced – 5th…Anabel – 4th. Best results of the season for them both. On to the larking about:
Now before the warm up we caught up with some locals….man with unknown name but wearing BBH popped over for a BBH Selfie….top bombing.
Then we bumped into this hunk…..photogenic isn’t he ! #manwiththelonglens
Paul Fitz (The Fitz) swung by….another BBH follower. Also side note….The Fitz came up with a fantastic idea to purchase N+1. Check this out: His wife races CX also, however after a few “mechanicals” (Paul assures us he had absolutely nothing to do with them honest…..) convinced her, that she (him) needed a pit bike….she totes agrees….he then proceeds to spunk cash all over one…..his size, that she could possibly fit on (with huge blocks of wood on the bottom of her shoes) then proceeds to convince her it will fit….honest governor….hey presto. 2 x CX bikes. Guys a genius….no wonder hes grinning !
Met up with John Cavill (JC) to the bants….had a good chin wag about all things bike related etc….it was proper Dad bike porn, if anyone was listening it was pure middle age gold…”tubs”…”tubeless”…”1xthis that and the other”….loved it ! He wasn’t racing today as he was resting for the big battle off at the Regionals, but he was cheering on Rupert in the U12s. I certainly don’t blame him for having a rest day as they had a considerably bigger field than most….plus word on the street, the Marriot Charriot was coming out all guns blazing…..not sure who won the face off ;O)……
Then a proper “Hi….fancy meeting you here….” introduction from this chap:, “Simon Collett – Not Novice”. Top bloke…..came over with a rusty chain (not a euphemism) and started some bants. Hes new to CX racing and has been racing the Novice race. After stepping on the podium a few times he thought today was the time for stepping up and this was his first V40 race ! Obviously I obliged and applied the lube to said chain.
Managed to snap KP playing musical statues…..look at him….totally still !
Prior to the warm up lap Poggo arrived, which literally looked like it was minutes since getting in from his works X-mas doo. What a trooper…..out in Spearmint Rhinos until 05:30 and still manages to get a taxi to the venue with his CX bike !! Although it was a slight mistake getting him to pin my number on as it was proper wonky….a little like him at that point ! But fresh from his top results at MK and Halton he was fired up and ready to roll.
So off we rolled as a three ball, ready to check out the culinary delights of Kettering – to say I was excited was an understatement !
The start finish was the same as last year, down to the end of the football pitch, dodging the man hole covers to hook a sharp left. Around the bottom of the field, then swinging round the right to head down a slippy long straight with a cheeky hairpin at the end pushing you back up a slight incline to the hurdles. Over the slats, then back along the opposite, not quite as slippy, side back to the end of the pitch and through some small off camber chicanes. I started to think this would be another classic course of 2 halves……
I was not wrong. Back along the end, past the pits then it puked you into the start of the technical stuff. Some of the sections were reversed from last year, but I thought this was a lot better and flowed really well. There was a really nice fast drop down, one you could really let gun depending on the size of the cahoonas…..then an off camber muddy climb up then down and back up a climb. The trails then swung you around heading back to the wooded section, but these still required a level of focus and concentration as at speed they were slippy….Kevvo purposely went down on his ass to demonstrate this doing approx 3 mph! (I bet that will miraculously disappear from the footage !)
At the end of the slippy bits was a cheeky little water drain ditch, some dismounted, but I decided to ride it. It wasn’t not too bad but you really had to push the bike in and then pull out pretty sharpish not to totally OTB. From here it was up and round to the start of the singletrack sections. It was a steep climb up to the top of the ridge, which I knew would get progressively slippier…..plus the top of the ridge was relatively thin with some exposure to the left, you wouldn’t want an SPD moment at this point. Then as you progressed through there were a few sections where you could choose “Skinny Roadie” line or the “Wide CX Pie Man” line…..both equally as testing….just shape dependant.
You then popped out the wooded section, on to another cheeky little drop which took some time to find the right line, which then threw you out on to the grassy steep scramble. As below, there were two lines, a running scramble on the left, or if you were feeling brave, a semi-rideable section on the right. I have accurately pointed these out on my hi-tec editing tool below:
Once at the top of this there were more decisions….three in fact….three routes to descend back down. I tried them all and they all had their good / bad points….I favoured the right as I found you could keep a little more speed, but I know some riders hit this descendt paired with another rider and tried to take a place on the way down…..”Ballsiest move I ever saw Mav”. This was then simply a slight uphill slog back to the start finish line and over the timing mat.
Cue….gridding……Tommo 18th…..Kevvo 29th. BOOM, lined up behind one another again. No Eddy Eddy Eddy bants this week though….not sure if Eddy raced.
Whistle went literally seconds after the normal “My whistle will go in the next 30 seconds”…..GO GO GO. Mike Mulroy was in front of me….but I managed to squeeze his bum on the way past to gain a few places…..and without hesitation we were all heading down to the slippery, man hole corner….60 odd (relatively smaller field than normal)…..at this point however it was all pretty well controlled at the front, brakes being applied relatively early on to avoid a stack up….I think we all made it round the corner without incident. The field was getting strung out a little along the bottom of the field down to the right hander.
At that right hander I heard a bit of metal on metal behind me, plus I knew that corner was a little slippy, and it sounded like a few went down. I looked back and saw Kevvo swerve round….although not sure Poggos gridding position would have been as fortunate to avoid.
The next 2 mins were a bit of a blur, paced down and back up to the hurdles, then along the edge of the football pitch all single file, nobody really attempting to move off the only line to gain a space…..hopefully like me they were trying to come down from 195bpm! We all popped out the end, no drama on the off camber chicanes, then heading over to the tech. Some good screams from the new bants Megaphone as we passed.
The field were starting to get a little more strung out now, it was also a good chance to pull the faces for KP as he had a prime pap spot. I don’t think I heard any riders come a croppers on the slippies heading down to the water drain trench, I didn’t take this particularly well and nearly ate my stem cap as it came as more of a surprise than I remembered in the warm up lap.
Then came the singletrack section through the trees; the entrance took its first kill with a protest from Michael P’s bike, a little like a stubborn horse at a horse jump, it decided it needed a drink or something and introduced a power slide to his back wheel ….nothing too bad but he was leading out a chain of riders who were swiftly closing in. No biggie, he shouldered and Mo Farah’d his way up the tight singletrack giving enough room for the rest of us to pass. I think the first pass through the singletrack was the most testing for me as we were all literally within a foot or so of the rider in front and that makes it slightly more difficult to find a line and pin it. However we all got through without any issues and popped out the other side.
The next small drop is where Pogo decided that the width of the drop area was simply not wide enough for the field of riders so he decided to simply dive into the foliage and make it wider…think dead fly on its back with bike in air still connected via SPDs…….a selfless but expensive manoeuvre which saw the loss of a pair of VC10 / Castelli gloves, a jersey, and a knee warmer…(also a impressively large thorn which I pulled out of his side as we chatted after the race, seriously it was a whopper!)…pain was simply not in the equation….mainly due to the anethetisitc (is that even a word) qualities of Gin&Tonic seeping from his pores !!
From here on in to the finish it was, certainly for me anyhow, just a case of getting it done on repeat, it wasn’t like a normal race where you could see riders closing in, in fact I think I only really saw one rider in front of me within catching distance and passed him out of the entire race. I was riding without a Garmin, (forgot it) and was super surprised when I heard the bell, I literally thought we had about 20 minutes left, but I knew my average 185 BPM would be nowhere in sight….it just wasn’t that type of exertion.
Kevvo shared the same thoughts as me post race, this was genuinely the first race I was not thinking pain, pain, BPM, death, heart attack….we were both thoroughly enjoying riding round….I know thats not really a common word used in CX racing, but I literally could of stayed out there for another 40 mins. Top finish for us, 19th and 24th overall, our best finish this season.
Some pics, courtesy, as always, of Gary, Molli and KP:
MC smashing it off the line…..he went on the “W” of “whistle”
Little dolly cam in the background feeling left out !
The LBRCC money shot….Colin Campbell and Andy Martin. Andy started at the back but came through like the Thorpedo smoking a huge spliff….
Kevvo, full sex face mode!
Luckily I had literally wiped a HUGE booger form my nose seconds before I saw KP ! I also knew getting gridded 81st wouldn’t matter….
Total bants…he lost 3 places due to the “Free Time” style thumbs up…..V strong sock/arm warmer/jersey/shoe/helmet combo.
John and Pogo following Robert Dixon singing to the tune of “Riding like a wrecking ball”
Cheeky move on Mike Mulroy from Tommo…..which only lasted until the 1st corner…he always has the last laugh !
Steve M on the move
Dean Barnett looking happy….good work that man !
Text book TT position from Spraggsy….love those greenwalls….such a pro
Pogo all intact, limbs all pointing the right way at this point….
Shout out to Lewis and the other Juniors as we all started together, good work those boys!
Mike Mulroy actually juggling as he rides….no end to this guys skills….
Strong sock game from MC, and that muscle definition !
The Equipe Velo boys….lead out by Tim E….probably discussing amongst them as to why Jez is walking……
Andy Martin fist pumping his make believe friend….on lap 2……one of those fake finishes….again !!
The money shot……VB…..Kevvo always smiling…..
Not so much……
Simon Collett….first V40 race….bringing the bants…..
Chris Clayton from Dyson getting sucked along and hoovering up the leaders…..sorry couldn’t resist it.
One small self indulgent VB issue to raise….new team kit arrived this week…..Hoodies…..or as we like to call them training tops.
Also Velobants welcome a new edition to the team….its called the “Encourage-ometer”. Sam loves it !
Talking of Sam, some pics of Team MK women and the V50s , apologies if I’ve missed anyone:
Zoe A – game face….
Tony another puncture free result…..busting the Bono look there me thinks !
Julia C – concerned race face
Absolute focus fest….
Gwen – very strong glove / helmet combo….hoping the shoes are blue too !
Tim Bailey – Terminator meets Sid Vicious…..
Andy L – strong as ever
Helen B – haven’t seen Helen for a few rounds……mixing up the pins on the arm stickers….strong confident label application
Trevor off of Team MK Wednesday CX training……
Paul H – love that bike…..
Nigel B – another wednesday night trainer
Some video bants:
MC saying hi to the crowd:
One of THE best course opening sessions i have seen this season. Strong flag waving from KP……RSPCC may be in touch mind for long term brain damage to child rider !
And if anyone didn’t know where we were….we can’t help…..Keeno and Mollis friend didn’t know either…..
Strong Dolly shout out from Paul Fitz…I think he has a crush ! Plus she said you took that corner far too wide…..
Plus I’ll leave you with, I think, one of the best images of the season so far…..it captures the TIMBAILEY “Got dressed in the dark” look down to a tee !! WINNER !!
Just a quick note on some of the comments made regarding Kettering. I’m not going to go in to any detail of the comments made, other than I enjoy the fact we have such a varied / wide range of course types. This really works for me, as I’m certainly not the fastest but much prefer the more technical / muddy courses….its literally horses for courses, but lets simply remember to ride safe, all within our abilities.
Also, I think in reflection, and the fact it created a pretty healthy discussion, this is whats great about our league. Riders don’t feel they need to keep these kind of points to themselves and are empowered to speak up. Bravo John, i’d always see this type of stuff as totally positive, and hope everyone can and respects that. I’ve been involved in similar sporting circles and instead of discussing these types of topics in open forum it stays bottled up and remarks are made behind the scenes of the administration / management and evidently that leads to people simply disengaging and walking away.
I know John Muncaster personally, he’s a thoroughly nice guy, always looking out for others, and great rider to boot, and I’m pretty certain Johns intentions were precise in their output, that being two fold; 1 – now its been discussed it will simply make people think twice about riding like a spaz, and 2 – it shows this league is a collective in which we all participate in and contribute to in our own way, which makes it what it is and without it, it simply wouldn’t be as popular, inclusive and friendly.