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Double trouble

Supacross last weekend. I love that event, it's what I think of as a quintessential cyclocross race. A "proper" CX course, full of elevation gain/loss, fast corners, slow corners, lots of wonderful off camber, mud (but not ridiculously so...), nothing too dangerous if you're running low pressures in your tubs and don't want to wreck your rims, it's just great and always makes for good racing.

With the National champs only a week away I was looking forward to using the race as a bit of last minute fine tuning - not for fitness (Lee's sorted that nicely) but just to get more time in between the course tape on the bike. Practicing cornering 'properly', race craft and all that. And that's exactly what I got :)

A half decent start (for me) and I instantly settled into my plan of not taking too many risks by going "flat out" and making mistakes. Ride smooth and controlled was the mantra I started chanting (internally) and that was pretty much what happened. I saw 3 riders start to open a gap at the front after about half a lap and decided that, if they worked together, it could become a 'dangerous move' so I upped the pace on a couple of climbs to ride over to them and settled back down again - concentrating on how the bike felt underneath me and cheekily watching their lines round the bends in case I could learn anything.

Pic courtesy of Eb Swarbrick

By the end of lap two, myself and Phil Holwell had moved slightly ahead of the rest of the field. We agreed to push on for a lap to open the gap a bit and managed to get a workable distance between us and the chasers. Slightly embarrassingly I tried to glance over my shoulder while taking one of the off camber turns halfway round the course and ended up sliding out but thankfully it was a fairly minor 'off' with nothing damaged and the two of us back together shortly afterwards.

I got the rare chance to discuss how the course was holding up while we raced together - looking for alternative lines, trying things out and comparing against each other, which no doubt helped in maintaining the lead we had!

Pic courtesy of Eb Swarbrick

We held the same pace right up until the final corner of the race, which I managed to get ever-so-slightly- wrong meaning Phil took the win, but to be honest it felt like a victory to have got such a good skills workout without knackering my legs too much.

The only logical thing to do after that was go and do it all again, so I lined up at the bac of the Seniors race and set about equalling everything for another hour.

Once again, a decent start (you forget how frantic it is 4 or 5 rows back compared to setting off from the front - lots of pointy elbows and heavy shoulders being issued and received!) and back into smooth over speed. I worked my way up through the field, keen to keep trying different lines and strategies (slow corner on the bike, accelerate vs off and run then remount, that sort of thing).but did find my limits (or the limits of grip, anyway) on a couple of occasions which would have been classed as a setback if I'd really been racing for position.

As it was, it just gave me more motivation to regain the time I'd lost without going into the red too much, which is a pretty rare thing to get to do!

Pic courtesy of Eb Swarbrick

I crossed the finish line happy and content and with no idea where, place wise, I'd ended up - to be honest that's almost always the case, it's always nice to be battling for the win but the beauty of cross (or one of them, anyway) is that there's always something to target during the race, whether it be pipping someone for 170th place, not getting lapped or just not crashing (too often...).

Another fun day out at Macclesfield! Big shout out to all the organisers and fellow competitors who made it a great day out and to (wait for it...) Lee @ Transition Coaching who's got me in shape to make "cruising round" still super fast. Ace work all round! :)

Here's hoping the National Champs race is as much fun!


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