Saturday 31 October 2009

Bring on the Night!

So I made it through the the (not so) muddy hell Halloween cyclo cross. It wasn't pretty but I survived. Actually, strictly speaking that's not entirely true. Wearing fairy wings and a fancy catmask I didn't look too bad. I survived but I didn't come out unscathed. A couple of crashes on the whoop de whoo bumps left me with a grazed elbow.

I don't know where I finished. I'm pretty sure I wasn't last but I was a long way from the front. I should've put an additional light on my helmet as I couldn't see the twists and turns in the path very well, and that made me a bit anxious about going so fast.

I'm embarrassed to say that I wasn't particularly out of breath by the time I finished because I just hadn't felt confident enough to ride really hard. The times when I did give my bike some welly was when I needed to in order to get over the whoop-de-whoo bumps. But then I just lost control of my bike and ended up falling off the bumps! I think my fancy dress was intact by the time I crossed the finish line so I was happy enough.

The course had a good mix of fast sections with technical (though safe) obstacles thrown in. A lap was also long enough that you didn't get lapped too quickly by the faster riders. In the women's race I was lapped by the winning girl, Corinne Hall (Team Corridori) and then was just caught by the second placed lady Joanne McRae (Arctic Premier) as I crashed spectacularly in the home strait. By then, my biggest concern was whether my fairy wings hadn't been squashed!

Even though the race took place in the dark, overtaking was still quite orderly and people were able to overtake each other without too much difficulty. A couple of people had problems with keeping their lights mounted on their bikes, and they ended up racing with it in their mouths! Joanne McRae was compromised when she had to ride the first lap with no light after hers broke, and so she took time out to get another one during the race.

For this Halloween event the racers got into the spirit of things (no pun intended!), with most of the women and many of the men wearing fancy dress. One guy, who raced wearing a plastic face mask, said it was like racing with a wet face towel on the whole time. It still didn't stop him from doing well.

But what a night, what an atmosphere. The organisers, Rollapaluza and Tour de Ville had gone to alot of effort to make this a well organised and successful event. And sure, they succeeded. There were large crowds out to watch us and cheer us on. It seemed like all the cycling community, as well as other local triathletes, and just other locals had come out to watch. Loads of people cheered me on as I stumbled over the hurdles and struggled to get back on my bike each lap. There was funky music, drinking and general merriment. This event was a real credit to cycling in London. Thanks to Rollapaluza for another great night.

photos by John Mullineaux @ London Cyclesport

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