Sunday 15 September 2019

Daily photo - 15: More cyclocross at Crystal Palace

The second part of my double-header weekend took place in my local area - at Crystal Palace Park. Contrary to the previous day where I had to cycle over to central London and catch a train to the home counties, today I just did a 10-minute ride up the hill. It was nice to take things leisurely in the morning.

The sketchy descent that caught many people out 
Where last year the course was based around the upper terrace of the park, this year the area used was lower down, around the area where the Tuesday summer circuit races take place. Given that this section of the park is on the sloping part of the park it meant the course was a distinct step up in terms of skills and strength.

My memory of last year's course was of long fast straights over gravel and a few short sharp climbs and descents, including one descent and climb where many people had to dismount. This year's course had a similarly tricky descent and climb, but it was not the hardest section.

There were some very testing climbs that people ended up walking/running up. There were also a few sections that had loose terrain. One such are was on a steep descent immediately after a steep climb, and contained a couple of tricky bends.

The top riders were able to ride it, albeit slowing right down to negotiate the turn, but the for the rest of us we were really caught out on it. Some people dismounted from their bikes at the first turn. Then there were others like myself, who very gingerly went around the turn, but had to try and get round those riders who had dismounted and were walking down the slope. Oh, and as if that wasn't enough there was a stake and taping to clear as well. So it was all a bit of a mish-mash. Needless to say this was a popular area for spectators, of which there were many.

The Crystal Palace round of the London and South-East cyclocross league is a popular event as it is a very nice venue, set in the historic park. The train station is right on the edge of the park so it is easily accessible even without a car. As it was a sunny day and many visitors to the park, there was also a fair amount of people out on picnics and curious onlookers. Furthermore, with lots of cafes and restaurants nearby in the Norwood Triangle riders can head up there for their post-race celebrations or commiseration.

On one occasion on the infamous descent I failed to clear the tape and just rode straight into it, snapping it in the process and almost coming off my bike. That probably provided some entertainment for people watching, and given this was my local area people recognised me so I couldn't hide behind any anonymity!

Sharing the podium with Tracy Wilkinson-Begg (1st) and
Elaine Owen (3rd) (Photo: Caroline Reuter) 
At least I wasn't alone in breaking the tape. The course marshals were kept busy constantly having to fix and re-fix this section! But hey ho, when you're so tired and heaving and dribbling you are beyond embarrassment or caring to apologise!

I ended up sparring with a woman called Kath from Dulwich Paragon. She was physically stronger than me, but I was able to pass her on the technical sections. In the end, she got the better of me on the last lap.

I think the combination of racing at Milton Keynes the previous day, plus running sessions on Saturday evening and Sunday morning had begun to take their toll on me. It was a good match though, even if I did get lapped by the winner, Kath's team-mate Caroline Reuter. The pleasant surprise was that I won second prize in the women's vet50 category.

It was nice to win back my entry fee. That money can go towards a sports massage. I damn well needed it after a weekend of putting my body through the mill. Looking forward to the next one!

Related posts
Cyclocross at Milton Keynes

Cyclocross is boss at Crystal Palace

Weekend at Cycle Expo Yorkshire, doing cyclocross and running 

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