A Date We Will Remember.
Stuck in heavy traffic at 17.30pm and sweating as I have to be at a race soon. Glasgow is in gridlock, hundreds of Mum and Dad taxis drop their hyper kids off at the Hydro as Little Mix are in town. Little do they know, there is better entertainment going down in Glasgow tonight. HalloX is being held by Albannach Crew over in Pollok Park. Alan Anderson will have the park buzzing with his mix of Belgian Techno Tunes.
Sloth from the Goonies and a Multicoloured Skeleton head to sign on and race in the darkness of the park. It’s a cold night and I’m glad I have my Sloth mask on as its keeping the cold off of my similar looking face while we take in a few warmup laps. Skeleton Gary is hoping for a full race this time out and not another one lap wonder.
We roll up to the start line with a mixture of fantastic costumes on show. On my right is Where’s Pammie, she is talking to a Scott-A-McKendrick lookalike. To my left are a few more Skeletons that have come out the closets and also a Rock Star with his inflatable guitar ready to give us a show. As I look ahead, I see another star of the musical world. Only bloody ELVIS. Viva Las Pollok. The best was behind me though. An inflatable T-Rex had come to race and was hoping to eat up the field as he went.
Hoot, Hoot, Hoot we are underway. The park is awash with white light from the 114 LED bike lights. I surf some wheels trying to find some space as I make my way forward. For a few minutes, I enjoy listening to some tunes that are being played from the speaker attached to a guys bike. As I set myself up to tackle the first set of barriers, I get a push on the side from an HTCC rider! Ross tries to elbow me out of the way. (Gary Douglas has been training them in Cross Combat I think). No harm done as Sloth takes a bit to push over. Skeleton Gary is way out in front of me. Hopefully, the next time I see him it’s on the finishing line and not as he laps me.
Time to let the madness of the first five minutes settle down, find a more suitable speed to ride at while targeting the costume ahead, then reel them in. Get to the second set of barriers, as I run between them, the mud tries to eat one of my shoes. The strap on my right shoe snapped while racing at Fife College, one of those jobs I was to sort last week. Hobble out the mud, sort my footwear and back to cycling.
Cycle past the timing van and out into the best area for the spectators. A few fast switchbacks mixed with some small ramps to ride up brought you up past the water gun alley where the kids aimed for your eyeballs. Next on the list was to try and ride in the dark was the legendary Corner Of Doom. If stayed on the bike and rode it, you got a cheer. If you had a fall out your saddle and a roll in the mud you got a huge cheer. If you were dressed in an inflatable T-Rex suit and fell off your bike? Well, you just became a Cyclocross sensation.
I managed to ride it twice, and after the second time, I had to stop and discard the Sloth mask. Breathing in the costume wasn’t the problem surprisingly. The main problem was seeing. It became sore on my neck, trying to look up and through the small holes was hard, I was unable to keep my head up for any length of time and I also couldn’t see out of my peripheral vision. This made things tricky judging corners and getting back on the bike. Tunnel vision wasn’t all that great to race within the dark so the mask had to go. I lost a heap of places when I ditched the mask and I also then placed my head torch the wrong way up. Which ended up illuminating the underside of my helmet for the remainder of the race and not my line of vision. Back to riding the bike and time to catch people in fancy dress.
The next few laps went like this. Pick off a few people in the long grass stretches. Gain positions at the barriers, but I quickly lost these places while I was lying on the grass at the Corner Of Doom. Pick the bike up and chase the riders down who managed to dodge around me while I was being cheered as another faller on the hill. This happened for the next few laps until the last lap where I came to my senses and ran the ridge and kept my placing. Should have done that from lap 3!
Last lap and I still feel human. Well good as I can be with an hour of racing with a cold and one shoe only held by a strip of Velcro. Push on trying to widen the gap on the lights behind me and hope to catch the distant lights of other riders before the line. Hop the last set of barriers, well walk over the obstacles lets not lie! Jog round the bend knowing I’m not far from the finishing line. Back in the saddles and past the pits hit the last corner and ride for the waving checkered flag. See Gary smiling ear to ear just after the line, It is safe to say he finished his first Cyclocross race and what a first race to complete.
Results are in. Gary came in a remarkable 14th place, I come in a decent 31st position, and Darren Lindsay who I have been talking trash with on Facebook comes in 62nd. Pumped a Dillion mate!