Welcome to the not-so-secret CX musings of VB’s very own Mark “Pogo” Patterson.
Pogo, for those that don’t (yet) know him, spends most of his year doing absurd long distance events or some of that triple sport ironmongery thing (How do you know someone does Ironman btw? Because they tell you….). Basically he trains religiously for long, sustained efforts, which couldn’t be further from the world of max effort for 40 odd minutes in CX. Which makes it even more awesomer that he even gave it a go in the first place back @ RAF Halton in 2017, here at VB towers we like to think it’s the Bants that’s kept him going more than anything.
So welcome to Pogo’s secret CX diaries, they’re uncut (bar a few sweary word edits), raw, truthful and from the heart (between you and us we actually think this is some form of therapy for him or worse, homework task from his coach…no really, he has an actual coach).
Take it from it what you will but remember one thing from all of this – CX is about having fun on your bike – we know Pogo is & being part of Velobants is a big part of that and we love him ♥.
P.S. I think you’ll all agree that is must only be a matter of time before his chauffeur, Chunkie Pete pledges his allegiance to Velobants too….
Diary Quick links:
Central League Round 8 – ‘The Zoo’
First for me this week, giving a race report from the not so pointy end of the Vet 40’s
As usual arrived with my race buddy Chunky, he drives every week putting up with me drivelling on about how this week’s course is definitely going to suit me and how well I’ve trained all week.. We’re at the race venue about 2 and half hours before the big off and we even managed a couple of sighting laps before the juniors get going.
HANG ON!!… it looked flat on google maps (who else does the pre-race course guessing game?? Just me?) and why hasn’t anybody cut the bloody grass, energy sapping or what!.. I turn to Chunks and suggest we just get back in the van and bugger off back home, I reckon he considers it for a short moment..
The great thing about being part of the niche/boutique club like Velobants CC is the guys generally turn up way before me and set up the ‘bants’ camp – which appears to evolve each week with bike racking, gazebo and brewdog IPA, you won’t believe what they’ve got coming for the next few rounds (it’s gonna be big!). – often you can hear ‘scuse me mate can I put my bag in there’ not once have the guys ever declined and it’s very much in the spirit of CX but at some point they’re going to need some of them crowd control barriers or upgrade the gazebo to marque grade..
The next hour and half is spent doing the usual faffing around with lord knows how many pre-race nervous wee’s. (We’re a little more discrete than pissing up the Park Keeper’s house but sometimes understanding where the gents is challenging for most of us!!).
Finally we get another sighting lap in, the course feels a little faster than it did earlier, I’m guessing the juniors have done a great job in bashing down the grass and ironing out some of the bumpy bits. We called up to gridding.
Did I mention GRIDDING?
Each week I pray that the Gridding Gods have finally noticed Pogo Patterson moving up the field?? I generally try and keep my Gridding disappointments to myself and off of the VB WhatsApp & FB chat (it can be brutal if you show any sign of weakness), but right now I’m apologising to The Real Fitzy as he certainly got my moaning and pi$$ing this week – ‘Can’t believe it I finished 77 last week and I’ve been given 98 FFS!’ however I know some think of it as a dark art (me included) but I know if I’m really honest with myself I’m being gridded fairly and pretty much where I deserve. I can appreciate it’s a thankless task of trying to get riders away safely (one of the things I love about CX).
So to the start…
I’ve come to the conclusion that starting a CX race without a plan will inevitably mean that I get over taken by all the guys trying to kill me from behind, it’s like a stampede of wilder beast, you guys at the front have it easy! This week a gap opens up to my right, while other riders insist on trying to squeeze up on the hard left turn I nip around the long way and take what seems like loads of places, I can win this! at this point my CX enthusiasm is at its highest, this period usually lasts around 12 seconds until the pack starts streaming past me, I’m racing the usual dudes (that’s great thing isn’t it, yes gridding works!)
The middle part of the race is where most of the work is done or not in my case, I’m basically trying to work out how I should be riding the slow and fast corners, as we go past the pits each lap I can hear someone’s kids shouting ‘come on daddy, you can catch him’ that ‘him’ being me.. I don’t dare look back, this game continues for the next couple of laps, I get passed, not sure if it’s the ‘DADDY’ or not but I’m literally chewing my handlebars trying to catch the group in front (I’m in no man’s land, that’s usual).
Now comes the part of my race that happens most weeks where confusion is pretty much the only emotion, ‘is this my last lap of not?’ ‘did I hear the bell’ ‘that dudes less than 20 meters away I can catch him’ ‘Oh bugger there’s the flag!’ ‘thank god that’s over with!’ ‘nope not entering next week, it’s too hard!’
‘Pogo how did you get on?’ ‘Man that was hard today, course didn’t suit me!’ ‘You coming next week then?’ ‘F*ck Yeah, see you then!’
and so it continues…
Race Report Round 9 – Corley Cycles, MK Bowl
Tales from the not so pointy end of the V40’s
Had a message from Chunky this week, sorry Pogos not going make the bowl this week, still in Italy… You LUCKY b*gger I $%&!ing hate the Bowl! So I packed up solo this week without the luxury of Pete’s transporter, it was down to me to get my $hit together without my pre-race partner in crime..
I’m not sure how many times I’ve ridden the bowl over the last couple of years but every time I have it’s been hard, really hard. It’s pretty much up or up with little or no recovery in between. I HATE THE BOWL.
(Unbelievably Chunky convinced Mrs Chunky to get the night flight and made the race anyway, awesome effort pal, CX does that to you doesn’t it) Anyways, arrived to the usual madness that follows the VB caravan these days, this week with the super exciting addition of #velobantsFM –
Q. What can you possibly buy with all that car park money from Round 2 at Campbell Park?
A. A MAHOOSIVE rechargeable sound system, that’s what!!
MEGA!! Kevvo reached out to the Central massive and polled the league for a rocking playlist to keep all within a 5 mile radius entertained, over 70 musical nuggets from The Vengaboys (Pat’s choice I assume) to classics from Raging Speedhorn (WTAF!?!).
Back to the action;
Gridding this week had completely met my expectation and I’d been handed the heady position of 107 (back into triple digits again FFS!) – my guesstimate had only been 2 off, I take myself through this game every week (can’t wait for Keef to post up every Thursday). It’s taken me half way through the season to stop worrying about it, I’m racing the same dudes every week so who cares (me, just a bit if I’m honest).
The course looked pretty standard from the view just outside of the blue $hitters but wow I take it all back, whoever designed this weeks ‘Bowl’ course managed to make it way more interesting than usual, the course ran clockwise with some super technical turns, several single tracks with more than one crashy corner. It was super fun and kept us all keen, I even managed to out tekkas a couple of riders with my silky CX skills. AMAZEBALLS!
What is it with the V40’s?? It’s the biggest field by quite a long way with over 130 riders setting off in the usual wilder beast stampede (see Chippo’s FB video). We’ve been talking recently on how I can improve as a CX rider and the boys came up with a bit of a plan for me.. ‘Stop being so nice Pogo’ ‘You need to take places at every opportunity Pogo’ ‘It’s all about real estate Pogo, take as many positions as you can’…
Well I’ve still got loads to learn here but I had a great start, this time waiting for the inevitable bottle neck at the first single track down, I made over 30 places on the first lap!! Gone was the super polite Pogo, out came the snarling, I’m gonna ride through the hedge to make some real estate Pogo (30 places on lap 1 (I’m on fricken fire!!). This, I know was a proud moment for Kevvo (thanks for the advice pal…)
Okay so I’m going be honest here, the smile on my face did return for a while and I need to learn how to make it much harder for other riders to pass me as I lost 8 places until the flag. I also need to work on where I am in the race, man alive if I could workout it was the last lap I would have caught the dude in front of me, I almost rolled him on the line but couldn’t make it stick (that happens to everyone right?)…
So I started 107th and finished 83rd but more importantly I finished 66th affiliated, maybe I might move up the grid for next week, I’m not holding my breath but the Bowl was good to me this week. I LOVE THE BOWL.
See you at Swanbourne, P.
Race Report Round 10 – EquipeVelo, Swanbourne
It’s all learning isn’t it???
Back to normal this week, picked up by Chunks early doors.. Not having to worry about squeezing all my gear into my car makes for a great start to my day. Made an effort not to chat $heeet about how after last week’s race this course was definitely going to suit me.
Earlier in the week VB towers had a tip-off that the course was going to be flat and fast, I’m guessing they forgot to mention that long hard drag up to the finish line or the constant up ramps leading in to the tight technical turns.. or maybe this was a tactic to lull the VB massive in to a sense of false security.
‘Chunks, I reckon this course is going to suit me!!’
Made a cracking start again this week, I managed to follow the wheel of a massive Hemel rider who bullied his way through over 20 starters (my best position for the day is lap 1, 81st after gridding 102nd).
So into the race proper which consisted of the usual suffering, generally giving places away far too easily. I found myself in a group of 3 duke-ing it out over the remaining laps, consistently taking a place then giving one back..
After a couple of laps I unexpectedly pass a VB team mate who looks like he’s struggling (he wasn’t, he had a puncture!) we pass him again in the pits and then we pass him again on what I thought was the final lap. ‘Pogo, you’re beating me by over a lap’, now when I heard that I automatically assume I’m riding the last lap, as we turn and make for the drag back up to the finish line I spot my opportunity and make for the pass, I give it a HUGE effort and when I take a peek over my shoulder I’ve dropped the pair of them, awesome work Pogo!!
As I come round the bend at the top, past the VB caravan I close up to another 2 riders, one more effort Pogo C’mon.. I sprint for the line, pretty sure I roll both of them. Oh hang on, where’s the <pesky> Flag, no really where’s the flag??
At this point I’d like to report that Keenor wasn’t looking at his phone, I can confirm that Jase doesn’t miss the important stuff.. ‘Pogo…. Pogo.. you haven’t finished fella, you’ve got another lap to ride!!’ Wait what?? Another Lap??? I’m unclipped at this point, trying to recover just after the finish line.
When I finally come to my senses pretty much every spectator is yelling at me, ‘Oh £*c& no, £*c&, £*c&…’ I have a complete sweary melt down, I look up from my bars and realise there a lady sat behind the tape with her 2 kids and pram ‘Sheeeet sorry, I mean sorry, really sorry (Stop swearing potty mouth)’ fortunately I think she understands my anger and tells me it’s okay as long as I get back out there and finish.
So after giving away 6 places on my final lap, I cross the line.. We’ve all done it, haven’t we??? What a tool…
See you at the regionals P.
Race Report – Central & Eastern Champs, Welwyn Wheelers
It’s mental as well as physical init…
Like a true CX Chopper I am, I went straight in and entered the Regional Champs.. I’m not sure if that’s the done thing or not for a fella that definitely rides most rounds in the third third of the V40’s so why would you bother?
I can see what’s coming in the next few weeks, little or no racing up to Christmas only a couple of races in the new year.. Withdrawal is looming so I’m just getting as many races in as I can, still convincing myself that I’m improving every race.
Flying solo this week I packed up the car and made my way to Stanborough Park, it was maybe a little touch and go whether I was racing this week. It’s been super busy at home, with various parties and a small touch of man-flu almost convinced me to sack it off. Knowing the conditions were set to be wet I knew that I’d regret not making the effort to turn up.
After loads of FB noise about gridding and the lack of pre-gridding info, I’d been given the coveted 84th grid position (happy days). Maybe not knowing your grid position is actually a positive?!? Once we all got called forward it was cool to be just that little bit closer to some of my team mates.
This week I felt I didn’t start quite as well as the last couple of central rounds, maybe being a little higher up the field means there’s not so many I can bag on the first lap.. I guess my expectations are set now, in the first lap I managed to claw myself up to 60th so 24 places on the start now feels pretty decent now I’ve written it..
AT LAST I RECKON THIS COURSE SUITED ME!!! – Still suffered like a dog…
I managed to mix it with some dudes that normally ride way in front of me and it wasn’t until the final lap that I lost contact with Kevvo (thanks for the shout outs fella).
I did however smash it up with a couple of riders on what was a technical track with a bit of everything.. I rode hard to keep with the group and managed to put the squeeze on early, only dropping 3 places from the first lap.
I’m starting to realise CX can also be a mental game as well as physical. I made a pass and managed to make it stick for a good 30 seconds but then attacked again to make sure it stuck. Making a move stick is a skill, I reckon you need to physically push on so you can mentally make the other rider not want to go with you. Sure I’ve had the thought process when I’ve said to myself ‘I’m not going with that’. Maybe it works the other way round when someone’s trying to stick a move on me?? I’m realising that I need to fight harder to keep position.
Loved the champs course, it had everything.. Mud, wind, rain, tekkers, draggy bits, hard ups, slippy downs, small hurdles, massive hurdles all made for great racing.
It was also cool giving VB support to the Eastern riders, not sure if they normally get that level of bants but I reckon they think we’re cool…
See you in Hillingdon P.
Race Report – Round 11 – Twickenham CC, Hillingdon Cycle Circuit
Lads, wet and muddy is what makes it super fun!! (and no I haven’t slept with Keef!)
I’m wondering if I’ve outstayed my welcome in the Chunky fun bus as I once again soloed may way over to Hillingdon this week. Had a convo with him earlier as he was out in town on a work do the night before, inevitably I smile as we hook up before this week’s off. Thinking you’re not going to ride but not being able to help yourself doesn’t just happen to me then, nice one Chunks!
As usual the communications at chez VB has been super-hot this week, after the O2 outage and zero Wifi think I came back to around 195 unread messages after leaving my phone unattended for 5minutes. (Some) VBers really feel the love for Hillingdon – ‘I hated Hillingdon 2015, haven’t been back since’
‘Was Hillingdon the one Tommo did his epic snow ride last year?’ ‘..don’t have the skills for soggy, Pogo’ ‘The closest I ever been to death on a bike!’ Sounds fun doesn’t it….
Anyone else watch the weather like me? Reckon I have a weather app for every kind of weather scenario I want to see.. I’ve come to realise that the dread you can often feel about the changing conditions doesn’t translate to race experience. In short, if it’s gonna be wet it’s gonna be fun.
Gridding – it’s a fine art.
I can’t tell you the levels of excitement this week, after the pre-gridding no show at last week’s regionals, Thursday’s were back to normal.. At this point I should apologise for my school boy bants but the gridding god’s finally recognised Pogo Patterson’s abilities and served me up a season’s best
position of 69!! Needless to say my race number is now framed and thoughts of retirement have been pretty real..
I have however been reminded that the field at Hillingdon tends to be on the smaller side as all you central peeps have a big old journey to get there but I reckon I moved up the grid after a reasonable result at the regionals (no I didn’t sleep with Keef.. but would consider it if it moved me up another 10 places!!)
Hillingdon’s the first time I’ve had an all road/tarmac start (missed it last year obvs), I felt a little uneasy to be honest. I’ve spent years of hearing about the dangers of riding the ‘Spillingdon’ crit circuit.
My plan this week was to try and take it easy and keep myself out of trouble, the whistle went and we smashed our way around for a 3rd of a mile before hitting a wet slippy corner onto the course proper. My “I’m going to take it easy” soon went out of the window as I spotted a gap held my line and bagged myself a positive of 28 places on lap 1!
Increasingly I’m riding with fella’s that have been way ahead of me all season, my tactic (don’t tell anyone) seems to be paying off (cheers VB leaders and TeamMK for the advice and training).
So we slip and slide our way around, the catch (Messrs Ellison et al) is taking much longer for the last couple of races but I’ll be honest and say I was happy to only ride five laps this week. My bike must have weighed at least another 3 kilos with all of the mud hanging off my rear mech..
Unbelievably Nath& Kevvo went full on Pro this week with a bike change every half lap.. Pit crew management went uber well as Jase had to stick his mobile in his pocket and show Marti the ropes with the new VB super soaker. I’ve now convinced myself I need a pit bike….
Finishing this week was again full of complication, pretty sure Keef had a good old laugh at me when I asked if that was actually it.. He reminded me that the black and white flag means ‘yes it’s done Pogo’ fortunately I’d managed to ride in to no man’s land so no sprinting for the line this week but a super pleasing 49th position, may even move me a little further up the grid, maybe I don’t need to sleep with Keef …. ;-o
See you all at Rockingham on the 6th Jan, have a great Christmas P.