Oh my….where do I start.
OK lets start with the BigBobbleHats. As many of us know, wearing the tightly knitted noggin warmer as a head coverage device is paramount at CX events….so VB have teamed up with BBH to give you a cheeky special offer…..clicky here
We hunted down a few of the fellow BBH wearers this weekend at Round 9: Thanks to Fizz Harris, Nikki Tipping, Woodsy, and Jane Doe….
It started as a standard Sunday race day; me getting up 4 hours before my 2 kiddies race time, loading the wagon with loads of unwanted tat, loading the wagon into the car, loading the bikes, then loading my stomach, then chasing the kids to get out of bed for the 7th time….anyhow all went exactly to the standard plan and I swung buy and collected Kevvo just before 8:15. It was on…..3rd nervous pooh down, we were ready to roll…..although Kevvo did have a slightly delicate botty due to an overindulgent curry Sat night….think Japanese flag. (On reflection Kevvos hoop does attract a little more attention than most topics I scribe, this is in no way reflective of its condition or level of bleaching, other mens bottoms are available – I wont mention it again)
A swift drive across Tring & we arrived……to one of the most exhaustively manned carparks I have ever seen….think Disney Land but in camouflage! We even managed a snap. Stand by your beds….
Now there were a few things I was particularly looking forward to this specific race day…..1st up was the cherry popping CCXL race of VB Member Fitzy……second I was riding a new loaner from Ridley (thank you John Harris kind sir) as my X-Night is a little poorly…..and third…well all the course bants leading up to today on the socials media ; sand….drops….frites…..coffee….brass band…..Frans new wallets…..lots of Bobble Hats, Tiny Teds Birthday and our Scottish contingent racing in proper CX conditions……Tim Baileys new tyres…..
First up Halton. It always been my “Season Opener”, in fact it was the first ever CX race Kevvo and I rode a few years back. So I was interested to see what the course would ride like at the end of November, plus the weekly build up showing the riders that various obstacles made me even more excited.
We arrived unloaded and then headed over….its a little walk to sign on, however it does make for an interesting walk…..I mean what club doesn’t have a 26t Multi Purpose armoured vehicle to welcome you into the course.
Sign On was slick….one could say it was with military precision…..easy peazy, then down the stadium steps and up to the start / finish line. This is always a tricky moment in the day encompassing with the task of finding the best spot to park the wagon and take up post for maximum hand ups / high fives and general race banter encouragement. We think we picked a corker…..the final corner to the finish. Kids races done, (well done monkeys).
Kevvo and I started getting the game face slap on. Tiny Ted (birthday boy) turned up, as usual wearing head to toe yellow Equipe Velo, muttering superlatives under his breath of how unfit / hung over (he doesn’t drink) / slow he will be today….but knowing him so well that means a top 20 finish.
Tony Marriot arrived for a swift exchange of banter, then we headed off to the green flag for a few warm up laps…..they were needed as I was freezing !!
Format for this blog is a little different as VB members Keeno (big and small) went a little awol after some major bike mishaps in the U16 Girls race, new wheel, new rear mech….hell new bike, but hey its X-mas in 4 weeks !
So we have a string of clips that were taken at the aforementioned VB spectating spot.
Quick recap of the race: The V40s set off as though the Luftwaffe siren was a blazing from Halton Hall, down the tarmac, which unlike most other starts seem to have much more of a sense of urgency, it felt SWIFTERS! I was knocking bars with a few other riders, but maybe just the start / finish straight was particularly narrow.
Then onto the grass and down into the wide slippy(ish) switchback and straight The Grassy Knoll but with no American conspiracy. Out the top of the climb and we hit the woods….and this started to shove the riders into a funnel and squeeze the 4 – 5 a breast into single file. Like all Doggers amongst us, Ed (whos birthday it was did I mention that) was particularly looking forwarded to donning his budgie mask and heading into the woods for some undercover canopy boy on boy action, which to be honest is where most of us spent at least half of the 10 min or so lap. Personally I loved the wooded sections, full of roots covered with that magic spray making them all look like really old dog turds so you just HAD to miss them, plus it was yet another surface to test us. “Loamy” I think would be the maximus adjective….and nope….I didn’t even Google that shit !
From the woods you were thrown, literally in my case, up a few short steep muddy slick climbers where you could opt to ride or run. In my case everyone chose to run….I chose to ride. Still mounted and feeling particularly proud of my mud bike handling and climbing skills I tried to find a slot big enough for a brand new Ridley loaner (thanks again John Harris) but only managed to find a slot big enough for a playing card and just couldn’t stop in time. (Apologies to the single speed rider – I think it was 39 – Dean Taylor – with the black stripy shorts who called me a Dick Head…yep you were 100% correct I was certainly in Bell End Wrecking Ball mode at that point).
So the kafuffle of the first really techie corner was over, up some more loamy mcloamerson singletrack into another short steep climber, luckily at that point the field were a little more spread out and most managed to ride up taking a tight line to the left. Next out on to some more tarmac, where I think I nearly wiped out another rider…..totally by accident (huge soz)….the sun was pretty bright at that point and my low light lenses made it virtually impossible to see and for some reason I thought the course went right…..I veered right and think I may have forced some poor sod into the hedge. Not cool, bruv……not cool. So apologies to that poor sod, feel free to punch me hard in the throat when you pass me at Berko !
From there it was wood off camber twisty fest all the way pretty much to the ambulance station. I really liked the trails in the trees, really similar sort of riding to what most of the VB lot do here in Woburn Woods. The ambulance parking lot is where I started to see a few casualties, mainly due to the sudden change from sliddy little mud trail, over the pavement with a few sharp edges which I thought may catch a few pinch flats throughout the day, onto the carpark, which I found particularly hard to turn on with 22psi….then up back onto the pavement with a few more pinch flat spots to dodge. But hey, thats all part and parcel of picking your line….not just on the trails, but also in the car park !
This then brought into sight and ear shot the main attractions of the weekend, the spectacular tax payers real estate of Halton Hall (I’m not entirely sure it is a “Hall” , but hey it is in my eyes…..) its a cracker….and in the back ground at this point you can just hear a glimpse of the Brass Band…..a ‘umping and a lumpering’……oh majestic !
The next part of the course followed previous years outlines, and starts with some of the slightly more technical drop ins, a few smaller gentle rollers to get you honed in, down past the pits, then into the King Ding-Aling of step downs….straight into the hurdles. Just as relief hits you that you didn’t go A-over-T down the dropper you have to swiftly dismount, dive bomb the hurdles, then to top off the cherry on the creme-de-le-creme you have to scale, what on the 4th lap felt like some kind of climbing wall, (like the ones they tow along to really posh kids parties)…..At the top of this my tiny little 28″ circumference thighs were on fire. Then through some more wooded singletrack, spitting you out onto the second King-Ding-A-Ling off camber monster of years gone by.
Like the old Top Gun saying……”If you stay high, you got by”……think it was in a Maverick / Goose out take….I did see one poor rider gradually sink into the abyss below……didn’t see him again…luckily he wasn’t there the next lap !!
Through a little more twisty singletrack brought you to the next spectacular obstacle…..which had really drawn the crowds…..the 7 tons of finely sieved builders sand. The warm up lap was quick to draw out the “Fuck that shit” from my potty mouth on my first sighting lap, having grown some minerals in the pre-race talk-through with Kevvo….’Yeah…I’m def gonna ride the sand pit for the bants….” – No way – Jose…….it was unridable. Dismount, get out the bucket and spade and run through that aggregate…..lifting bike at same time as not to attract the rear mech eating powder as you wade your way through. I really enjoyed this bit, as literally EVERYONE standing by the sand pit was smiling and laughing…..loved it. Also managed a few cheeky high fives…….
A stretch of downhill to catch your breath into some more nice twisties, than a gentle climb up and out of the woods. On the warm up lap I literally thought this would be the end of the lap, but no it was a long one. 3km I think in total, even longer than the Wheelers. But I didn’t mind tit, probably only a mere extra 400m stretch, however who cares when you literally ride up the alimentary canal of this glamorous stately home, to the tune of “Hitler….has only got one ball…..the other….” I honestly don’t know the “actual” name / composer but that stuck in my head for approx 35 minutes. Class !! Although it was by far superior to the heavy metal thrash that was being played during the kids racing……..at one point my children’s ears were bleeding !!
Up the gravel path, then back down…..with a precarious 180 degree switch back at the end which slowed me to a snails pace for safety of not falling off in front of the brass band. Then over another cheeky little pinch flat spot….down through the woods, over some more old-turdy rooty bits then round the last few corners, and past the Velobants spectating area.
I personally LOVED this course….I don’t know how, but almost certainly helped by the high numbers of mechanicals I managed 30th, unfortunately Kevvo had chain off issues again and slipped from running 32nd to 50th. Fitzy, with an impressively large grid place of 99 managed to finish 43rd on his first outing. I’m just not sure who was having more fun, Fitzy racing….or the rest of us screaming support at the corner.
Nice action shot as hes being paced by Zoe off of Lovello…..and theyre 650b wheels dont you know…..40mm tyres….running 23.2psi……although certainly needs to up the shoe-helmet-combo…….only a 9.5/10 this week Fitzy ;o)
Kevvo digging deep with an awesome sex face just for the camera.
The girls….Molli and ‘Molli’s Friend’ talking lip stick and make up stuff……
Looks like a lot of precious time wasted by the standard of tag application…..poor….WTF?!
A shout out to Keeno….little did he know at this point, he would be £400 out of pocket on new rear mech, wheels, frame for Molli !!
Ouch, even came with a frame ding for free !!
Fitzy super stoked…….with his new VB cap !! Quote of the day post race….”At least I didn’t make myself look like a dick…..I’m happy”
Fitzy action shot courtesy of the weekends answer to Terry Richardson (but without the topless shots and sexual harassment claims) – the one and only Keith Perry.
Look at the Fitzy pro…not a spec of dirt on bike or rider…..maybe its due to the wheels….theyre 650B don’t you know.
Kevvo with the filming stick…….FFoouurrrr
Pre-race hydration elation
Caught up with the coolest Commi…….Kelvin. Hes def got a Bruce Willis look going on there…..
Just two guys…..looking hot in matching spandex…..
Ed with the infamous Belgian Frites with garlic / chilli / cheese sauce…..he must of been trumping all afternoon !!
Fitzy or the “Grand Blancmange” (pronounced…..Bluh-Monj) as hes known in Team Velobants……showing off his new club kit – Thumbs Up Emoji !!
Tommo with some High Fumpf action…….
A nicely placed segway leads us on to some shout outs…..literally we shouted this out adjacent to VB Spectating area, also known as the last corner. Virtual digital hand ups to:
– Tim Bailey – how he managed to keep a straight serious face with all the bants thrown at him deserved a podium.
– Ian T for putting the living daylights up us on arrival….”Lads this is one of the most technical courses I’ve seen in some time”…..GULP
– Andy Lowe…..easily the best manoeuvre of the day was taking hugeous speed into the corner, HUG the tree with inside arm and virtually pivot himself, wheels off the ground, round to the racing line. CLASS !!
– Colin off of the LBRCC Buzzard…..Number 61 – Good bants sir. Come again.
– Mark Walker – def needs a shout, said hi to this rider. He loves the bants……keep up the good work fella.
– Michael P – looks like you had not only a nasty grid but a nasty OTB. Blame the burping tub…..Tim always does – Winking Emoji
– Big shout to Fizz Harris, high-fiving in 2nd place, never left the VB hanging.
– Big Bobble Hat shout to Mark De Wonderful…..not just for the 3rd best name after Hans Van Nierop and Jean Sebastian Vecten but for passing me your spare Big Bobble Hat
– Fran for a cheeky smile mid pain race face….9/10 for kit / shoe / helmet combo…….
– Suzanne G for letting me get away with calling her “Susan” for at least 2 laps with zero expletives thrown back (I’m shit at names as Kelvo always points out”
– Tony J for always meeting us with a small grin showing a minimal level of enjoyment….you looked like you were digging in.
– Another bronzed turn out from super fan Woodsie….again 2nd race in…..loving the result. (He always looks healthy that guy).
– A brief catch up with Tony Walton after 2nd retirement due to 2nd tub puncture…..bad luck matie !
Plus the following videos with Spraggsy, Pogo Patterson et al.
Come dine with VB and Spraggsy -Think Lloyd Grossman without a litre of red wine
Catching Bants….great opening image, the perfect Yoga headstand!
Tiny Ted with a birthday interview (or rather HAPPT birthday Ed according to Kevvos vid editing). I haven’t edited this at all…..he really is that small……
Course faves from Tommo – Tommo is the buff one on the left
Quick interview with Tony, literally seconds after his 2nd puncture in as many weeks ;o(
Overwhelming response from Tommo Small 2
As they say you can always learn from self-reflection….yep…Tommo youre a dick.
2nd race in for Pogo…..hes mad for it…..
Quick post race celebration with Woodsie…..57th !!! Ecstatic Emoji !!!
Also, a slight curve ball from the last few Blogs, we had other Velobants riders, Gaz & Richie, racing up North. Now, as many will know I’m sure…..racing CX in Scotland…..aint not like it down south girlfriends…..
That shit is a different fu-ck-ing can of frog shit……….there is mud…..LOADS of mud….like…..A very large amount……imagine our muddiest course…….you know that really muddy one a few years back, next to the Sports Hall Kettering Way with the BMX Pump Track…..(think it was cancelled the following year as loads of naked men were reported to have been seen in the adjacent housing estate) the one with the mud bog at the bottom…….thats the equivalent of the Sign On area where Gaz and Richie race…..
Just some images to set the scene:
I think, form what I can make out of the English – Scottish translator app….they are shouting Velo-Bants…..
Gaz and his pre-race warm up…….self indulgent I agree…..but FIT all the same ! He even has his lucky pebble out on the coffee table to rub.
Early banter on the interwebbook suggested Lochore Meadows aka Meedies was running fast and clean. Maybe for the kids and pensioners race but it was running soft by 13 hundred hours as the ground defrosted and began to cut up. A few bust mechs confirmed conditions were getting worse so it was pretty much biz as usual for SCX round 4. For Gaz, another snooze you lose gridding meaning he was a few rows from the back out of 140 entries, 114 confirmed.
A decent start got Gazzo up the pack and by the time they found the start finish line he was fighting it out with circa 40th place. It was a battle of attrition and if you fell off on the spiral of death, you lost out. He managed to stay upright and fend off the small group that was trying to get in the pics with Velobants finishing 35th. A flat course, two big hurdles and a staircase didn’t pose any plebs probs but the spiral of death took its toll with its relentless tightening and lack of grip. It took a few prisoners and was the main talking point after the chequered flag was waved. Defo a round just to tick off and be happy if your bike got through it without breaking.
Top work boys…..more to come from them later in the season……Road Trip doon South Jan 21st at Leicester League…..save the date.
Last but not least…..HUGE shout to the RAF Halton Club……not just for the amazing venue, amazing organisation, huge turn out of helpers / killers…..top refreshments and food, the brass band…..and and and…..too much to list. AWESOME !!!
One last note…..just to make the drive home for me even worse….Kevvo cracks open a Stella for the journey……git