I’ve been rather busy of late. Following the success of REDJanuary, I needed a bit of a mental boost recently so I’ve been running and cycling every day (bar three) throughout August. As part of that, I’ve signed up to two races: a cyclo-cross league race and a 10K run. I have still not decided if either is a good idea.
The CX race is now only a week away. Essentially (as I understand it) you ride laps of a course for 40 minutes and you win/get points depending on how many laps you complete and your final position relative to others. I’m reasonably confident I’ll be able to finish it; I can definitely cycle for 40 minutes. I’m also pretty certain I’ll be last, and I’m OK with that too.
Anyway, today I found myself in Bedgebury Pinetum with my CX bike and so I decided to tackle the single-track mountain bike red route, figuring it would be good for my stamina. I figured it would also be handy to get some off-road practice in, given that I have a terrible record for staying upright as soon as I leave tarmac.
I did some reading on the Bedgebury course last night. I have been before but it was over a decade ago and a lot has changed in that time. It’s fair to say that the reviews are mixed – although clearly a dedicated group has worked really hard on building a good course for everyone to use. The main complaint seems to be that it’s too easy, not hilly and basically for pussies. Well…miaow.
I didn’t find it easy at all. I fell off in under 5 minutes. I completed the course in probably one of the slowest times ever (just over 1 hr 20 mins). However, at the risk of sounding like someone who is an ‘all about the taking part’ wanker, I wasn’t trying to do it particularly fast. I wanted to practice riding uneven ground and sharp turns. I definitely got my wish. I was cacking myself around some of the bends and descents. I did feel like a proper badass when I rode down some steps (which I only did because I didn’t see them until too late and didn’t have time/room to stop). Some of the obstacles I deliberately didn’t ride and instead picked up my bike to try and truly encapsulate the CX spirit (although sod running with it, did it once, terrible mistake).
I don’t know whether I had a difficult time because I’m not that fit, not a great rider or because I was on a CX bike. It challenged me physically and left me breathing out of my arse for large portions.
Still, it felt like a good training exercise and I would do it again if I find myself over that way. I don’t know if I’ve made myself more nervous for the race as now I’ve got a better idea of what I’m (not) capable of. There were times when I had to pause and just catch my breath for a few minutes and I definitely won’t be able to do that mid-race.
And whoever named the section ‘Cardiac’: bastard.