Sunday 2 November 2008

London Women's Cyclo Cross Team - Doomed

D'you ever get the impression that something just wasn't meant to be ? You try hard, but you can't make it work.

Well that's what happened with our women's London Cyclo Cross team for the Inter Area Championships. We were meant to race there today but we couldn't quite get it together.

Our entry for the race had our team listed with four riders and two reserves. In actual fact neither of the reserves were able to ride. Katharine was unavailable and Emma couldn't ride for health reasons.

So we just had the four riders. That was ok. We only needed four to make a team and the results of the first three riders was what would count towards our ranking.

Unfortunately, though, Nicky became ill with a stinking cold and announced last Friday that she wouldn't be well enough to race. That left the three of us to make sure that when we raced we all finished.

The problem was that Helen had been relying on Nicky for a lift up to the venue which was about 100miles North, in the Midlands (Lutterworth). So there were lots of phone calls made backwards and forwards to see how we could get Helen up there. To compound things even more, Claire, who I was to travel with had a problem when her car broke down on Friday so it looked like none of us would be able to get there.

Finally, help came in the shape of Claire's boyfriend who was going to drive 30miles up the road from Woking to Crystal Palace to meet us and take all 3 of us to and from the race.

This meant that Helen would have to set off at 7 o'clock in the morning from her home in Haywards Heath to meet us at Crystal Palace so that she could get a lift to the race in Lutterworth.

That was a bit of a tall order for her, and it was going to cost her quite alot in petrol and babysitting fees.
And for all our travelling up there the women's cyclo cross race would only last 40minutes.

Don't get me wrong, the Inter Area Champs are good fun and it's a good day out. It's also a chance for team bonding. In previous years London has even fielded 2 teams.
But this year things seemed tougher for us. Bringing the championships forward to November from the original date in January is meant to encourage greater participation. It does generally, but the problem is that because the deadline for entry is only a few weeks into the cross season it makes it difficult to contact all the riders and invite them to join the team. Some riders are still busy wrapping up their mountain bike/road race season to think about entering national cyclo cross races.
So due to these difficulties we could only field one team.

Despite all the setbacks mentioned above, all three of us were still determined to make the trip up to the Inter-Area Champs...........until.........

I went to pick up my bike from Fred's flat last night. As far as I was concerned my bike was ready to ride, apart from a quick lick of oil on the chain and a bit of air in the tyres.
But when I began to ride it to the station I found that it was almost impossible to turn the pedals, and I couldn't change the gears. I would love to have done something about it, or take it to a bike shop but it was 10pm.

Disaster - I was really disgusted. My bike doesn't normally let me down like this. We'd had very muddy conditions last week but the bike had been washed the same day and I had ridden it after the event, and everything was fine then. Things were well and truly doomed. I could have opted to take my mountain bike, but that was locked in Fred's garage and he was away for the weekend.

Emma was going to look for a bicycle for me but my record of riding unfamiliar bicycles in a race is not good and I couldn't guarantee I'd be able finish the race. If only 2 riders finished we would have either been placed last, if we got a placing at all. For Helen and Claire this was going to be their first experience of doing the inter-area champs and it could have ended up being something they wouldn't want to do again. I didn't want to be responsible for that.

So, for the first time ever, we were unable to get a London team up for the Inter Area Cyclo Cross Championships. I am sorry that it didn't happen. I really would have liked to race against the other women from other parts of the country, but this year things just seemed to be doomed.

We are determined to get a London women's team to the champs next year and make a full and worthy account of ourselves.

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