An evening in Peebles.
Satnav destination is for Peebles High Street for a bit of early season Cyclocross racing. Love Cross is part of Tweed Love Bike Festival that runs from 14th- 30th of May. Two weeks of all sorts of bike shenanigans going on, my kind of festival.
This Cyclocross race is a little bit different from the usual Scottish Cyclocross races, a couple of main differences.
First of all, it is at night! My Race kicks off at 7:30pm, racing under the warm spring sun. (sounds romantic, this is Scotland so probably wet and dull)
Secondly, it will take place through the town centre and not through any kind of mud fest park! Looking forward to this type of Urban Cyclocross, seeing what kind of obstacles will be used on the course, like the use of water gun alley in last year’s photographs.
Also to add a slightly different twist to this is that I will be racing in the pairs category. The way I understand it is, myself and Kevin Pugh will be playing tag team racing. One of us will be racing a lap whilst the other sits out, then quick high five, releasing the fresh pair of legs onto the course for their lap. Having a lap out to recover seems quite appealing to me.
To start the night off there was a family ride. Around 1000 children and adults get to ride a little loop of Peebles High Street and round past Tweed Green then back around the High Street. It was great seeing all the little kids showing off their bike skills, one little guy was popping wheelies on his bike while another youngster was zooming around on a unicycle.
Peebles sure is a bike town!
Rider briefing was held while the course was being changed from the family loop into an obstacle-laden cross circuit. We were given instructions on how to record the lap, seems a bit daunting but actually was just another obstacle to remember. We were issued with a wristband, with this we were to stop, scan the band on the gate. Each and every lap. If you rode through the gates not scanning, then that lap didn’t count. More laps = prizes. Easy!
Solo riders are taken to start line for their 18 minutes of racing. Bikes were laid down and then riders were taken about 120 metres away to start the “Le Mans” style run to the bike. The crowd counted down from 10, once we got to GO! The sprint in cleats began. Bryan Donnelly of Glasgow Nightingales had brought his sprint legs tonight, he was out the blocks faster than Usain Bolt. Seems that his good start was short lived, his bike was blocked in and had to wait for a clear path to get out onto the course. Something to learn from for next year Bryan.
18 minutes of racing turned into 18 minutes in hell. There is no let up on the course so, 100% full gas is the only option. Well the exception was maybe Cameron Mason, he and his mountain bike took the course apart and lapped the field. Taking the top spot on the night.
Pairs race, here we go!
Kevin and I got split up, unlucky for Kev he registered us so he is the “A” rider meaning he shall have the sprint to his singlespeed bike. Which he parked next to a BMX! Mental doing a race on a BMX, only this madness was topped off by the guy in a leather jacket, jeans and riding his FAT bike in the solo race.
The crowd counts down the start, Go Go Go! They are off and running, Anthony Robson using his long limbs to good advantage is first to his bike. Kevin in third, BMX guy is second. Though he soon moves up to first as he is schooling us all in how to bunny hop the bales of hay. Bloody marvellous!
Now for the nerves to build. Kevin is out on the back end of the course we are still in third place as they head into the “dob” station. Kev doesn’t become a “dobber”! He remembers to scan his wristband, sprints up the street and jump’s the last bales of hay. Now it’s my turn to hit the course.
BMX guy got caught by Anthony , his partner is just in front of me as we head out onto the course. I overtake, moving up into second place. Time to get a shuffle on and catch Man Mountain on his Mountain Bike. Thomas Mitchell.
The first obstacle is on a right bend, a nice wedge of car tyres for you to run through. I did my best long jump effort while shouldering the bike. Man Mountain just bunny hopped right over the lot! Next was a downhill slalom, in and out the barrier tape. I took this as fast as I thought possible, Man Mountain brushed this aside and made it look like he was on rails.
A quick right bend and it was onto first haybale leap. I used the good old “Handbag” technique, Man Mountain used the Bunny hop technique. Gaining momentum and distance with every hop. I didn’t even see what he did for the three, yes THREE flights of stairs up to the Church. I was too busy with my head down, attacking them, two steps at a time.
Snagging the barrier tape as I came around the corner to find Man Mountain finish fiddling with his dropped chain, only for him to blast off and bunny hop the sand bags and hit the high street. Out on the street, you had a short sprint through some gazebos with some Tweetfest barrier tape to block your view. Tight left turn taking you down an alleyway round to a zig zag barrier system and then over two hay bale barriers. I shouldered the bike and ran this section, I was way quicker to do that than fumble around the barriers only to dismount and hop the bales of hay. Man Mountain probably bunny hopped the two hurdles at once for all I know as he was out of sight.
The bottom of the hill you took a right and an all out sprint to the sharp right turn up through the hotel car park , round the bend shooting you out onto the high street yet again. A bale of hay to hop, stop at gate and swipe band (not becoming a dobber). Then it was a sprint past water pistol alley to get a drenching and a drink from the kids. Hop the last bale of hay and Kevin was on his way.
Man Mountain had gapped me massively giving Kevin some work to do to chase down Anthony. We were still holding second place with a decent size gap to third.
This is how it played out for the next 30 minutes. Kevin chased, I got gapped every lap. We managed to do 10 or 11 laps, poor Kev did 6 of those. I got the lap bell as I scanned my wristband and handed over, giving him the last lap. We couldn’t chase down the first place as they had a really good race but we did manage to hold our lead over third place. Making the podium with SECOND place. Woohoo!
Well done to all the racers on the night. Also huge thanks to all of the event team and marshalls putting on a great fun event. A good bit of team riding with Kevin and hopefully we will return in 2017 trying to improve on our position on the steps of Tontine Hotel.