Strathclyde Park, Scottish Cyclocross, Round 3. Ding ding!
I knew we wouldn’t always have the sunshine and short sleeves, no real surprise that today’s race would be done in a true Scottish winters day (Pissing of rain). Making conditions a nice muddy soup for most of the course.
Drag my carcase from the warmth of the car to wander up to the sign on area. It is a disaster zone, tents have been blown about and barriers are all over the place, like being on set when World War Z came to town. Get number and timing chip for the Seniors race at half one. I am just in time to catch the mayhem of the V40 race start.
It’s chaos, the old guy in new John Lewis advert has a better surface on the moon than the start straight.
Soon as they whiz by I scamper to the car and dry off. Have about an hour to kill so I get on pinning number and sorting myself out. Make one sensible decision today, Leg warmers. I was going to leave them off but so glad I put them on, making it easier to peel the mud off my legs.
I trundle up to the starting area just as the V40 are rolling in, they look utterly soaked and filthy. Looks like my first mud race won’t disappoint on the mud part. I have a little ride of the course, see what I am in for. I do a very short part then chuck it. Decide to wait and see what’s ahead while riding. Good thing? Not sure but I don’t want to get clogged up in mud before I get underway.
Last time I raced in Strathclyde park was in my friends pimped up VW Polo, thinking we were cool because he had a 500-watt speaker and a Pioneer stereo. When I say raced it was a sprint between speed bumps and around the car park. Hopeful to get the glance from a car full of girls. Never really worked, I think it was his bad music choice rather than the faded gold colour car.
Time to dodge the holes in the ground.
Discard the waterproof jacket, well I will just call it a jacket as wasn’t much good at being waterproof today. We stand and shiver in the rain while the riders are called forward to the grid. Once they’re all sorted we get to roll up, not bad mid pack. Wait for the whistle to go in the next 30 seconds.
BEEEEEEEeeeeeeeppppppppp we are off.
The water is spraying, while we try and play dodge the biggest crater. Manage to somehow gain a few spaces before we hit the mud.
First up is a mush of grass and water, we have a few zigzag bends to navigate while we slip and slide for positions.
Back on solid ground and we hang a left onto the mushy stuff once again, drive through the mud trying to keep the back wheel spinning. Come to a slight off camber left turn that is super slippy, most people are off the bike and running at this point. I did try to ride it later on in the laps but came to a quick standstill, back to running.
That was the soggy part of the course done, it went onto some gravel paths after that, shooting you back out to Crater Carpark and along to little steps to run up, then might as well keep running as there seemed to be another mush pit waiting to suck your shoes off.
Back on the bike to face Monster Red, a red gravel path taking you high up into the top of the park. Leveling out for more mushiness to slow you down when you least need it. Catch your breath on a slight down hill taking you to Bridge Runup. At this point I was glad to have stuck my toe studs on, it was a mud fest up this incline after over 450 riders tackling it before our race. 517 riders in all age groups today. Great turn out.
Into some nice single track through the woods, wasn’t too bad though I did feel at this point that my rear wheel was under inflated. Could feel every bump in the path. I like this area of the course and reminds me to get my finger out around to Auchentoshan and do some training there. There was one bomb hole to come, had to take it easy or you were on the deck and plenty were. Once that was taken care of it was a dash down to a right and then past the pits and along to the finish line. Both eyeballs looking in different directions so you didn’t bust a rim on an underwater wheel eater in Crater Carpark.
Lap one done!
Took me about 11 minutes, one of the longest laps I have done timewise.
Pull up just after the finish line to check the state of my rear wheel, it’s still soft not punctured. Back on I go and try and hunt down those who overtook me while I was playing about with my wheel. Slog on through the mud and mushy corners for 4 more laps then I see the great sight of the black and white flag begin to wave.
That was hard!
I was nearly waving the white flag every time that Monster Red showed up, doesn’t look much of a climb but due to soft ground, soft tyres it meant a second of composure, focus the mind and grind up it.
All in all a good race as finished 41st so feels like I have gained some momentum, but there was a lot of DNF due to mechanicals etc.
Cyclocross has well and truly started now after the mild and sunny conditions.
Thanks for having us Strathclyde park, and huge thanks to Michael Martin with his team of Bog Monsters for putting on a great race in atrocious conditions, also a thanks for the use of some of his photographs too.