To all that don’t know me, I’m Fin’s Dad and I’m referred to a such by many of the kids that ride with Fin (Fin’s Dad on your right/on your left, get out of the way fatty).
A few years ago I knew of cyclocross but only from the occasional viewing on World of Sport with Dickie Davis (you have to be a certain age), just after Big Daddy did a splash on Giant Haystacks. Then a few years ago Fin got into Cyclocross thanks to CXNE. As with many parents my involvement meant being a taxi service, food and money provider and offering general words of encouragement, even though I didn’t have a clue what was going on. Even though I did not ride or race I got the bug but I think that this is because of the great people that form part of the CXNE community.
So, it wasn’t long before I sold my triathlon bike (yes, I wore a sleeveless tri suit but my socks were always the correct length) and invested in a CX bike. Now if any of you have seen me ride, I’m not very good but found that this was fun. I couldn’t get enough and even thought that if I’m travelling to the National Trophies with Fin, I’d have ago. I did my first at Abergevenny, the conditions were proper cross, rain and mud. My expectations weren’t high, I thought that a win was probably beyond my fitness and skill but maybe 2nd half of the field. I was right 2nd last, 8 crashes and a great laugh. From these trips away I got to know the CXNE regulars (you know who you are) and thank you for the craic.
I was well and truly hooked, I would watch Svenness on Vimeo, cross races with Belgian commentary and eat chips with mayonnaise.
Due to injury, fatness and a degree of lethargy, as well as Fin starting to do well, I decided to return to a more supporting role. This meant entering the murky and muddy world of the pits.
At first this was very tentative and I would watch from a far, so as not to get in the way of the pit master jedi, Jamie, as well as John and Tony. I then offered my services to fetch and carry water for Jamie and sneakily and without his knowledge I became his self imposed pit apprentice (I STILL DON’Y THINK HE KNOWS). Here I learned that there is a technique for washing a bike and can still hear the words “You tool” in my ears. Even though I think I can wash a bike now, Jamie can fix them (my mechanical skills need some development). I would shout “This ones broken”, Jamie would mutter words of what I assumed were encouragement under his breath and would generally repair the problem unless catastrophic.
I began to learn some of the rules from him, swearing is forbidden but you can use the words “**** ***” when referring to Dicky and the punishment for kids that ride bike without a helmet on is to place them in a headlock and face plant them in the mud.
Last year Britain hosted a it’s first World Cup at Milton Keynes. This was a mudfest and life in the pits was not rosy. There were 8 wash bays provided to cater for hundreds of riders throughout a race needing half lap changes. In good old British style a queue formed but this wasn’t good enough for some who jumped the queue. FIGHT. I stood back and watched the argy bargey in the pits. Hilarious. The non-swearing rule went right out of the window. The use of the wash bays was overlooked and we set up anywhere. Then the water ran out on the first day and we had to fill up from a local stream which had bits and small fish in it. This clogged the filter nicely. This had to be the highlight of last season.
The 2015-2016 season is now in full swing and during the Summer I thought it would never arrive. Thanks to DCC for putting on the Summer Cross to relieve some of those withdrawal symptoms.
So far there have been 4 CXNE races and one trophy, zero bike changes, zero bike washes. In fact the jet wash has stayed in the van but the racing has been good.
The pits here were a quiet place due to the weather, there was not much activity but I still managed to get told off by the Commissaire (not a very nice manner) for lingering too long in the lane while I pitted for Ollie (I’ve my own thoughts on this).
The CXNE convoy set off early on Saturday. We did the usual Premier Inn and fuelled up at a local pub. I’m amazed at how much food Ollie can put away. As usual a good laugh but everyone was exhausted after the drive so to bed.
Race day arrived and parking is always at a premium at Southampton but we managed, except for poor Nev and Bev who fell foul of the Parking stasi and received a ticket. In the absence of Alan D, Sandra was put on official photography duties and proved to be successful and better than me.
Vets Race was first up, with a minor problem occurring prior to the race when Tony’s rear hanger snapped but with a bit of tinkering with Fin’s bike he had a spare which was not needed anyway. This race started hard and stayed that way, Tony was well up but tiredness got the better of him and he wasn’t able to sustain the pace and finished in 27th. Keith and Dicky had a battle throughout with Keith finishing in 16th, closely followed by Dicky in 17th. Brian was having his own race with others around him and finished in 40th.
In the Vets 50’s Richard rode and looked as cool as ever and finished in 24th while Kenny who started at the back of the grid had a stormer riding through heavy traffic to finish 6th. It looks good for Derby with a better gridding position.
Youth girls next. I’m sorry I did not see much of this race as I needed a cup of tea but Olivia in the U16 race had a cracker and finished 6th while Roisin in the U14, in her first trophy finished 15th. Those hurdles were huge.
Youth boys and my first pit duty of the day for Ollie. Joseph had a great race and was up near the front throughout and finished in 15th. Ollie had a a yo-yo race, started well and was making up places from the gridding but suffering from a bad back dropped back again, finishing in 23rd. Bike fit required. The unluckiest rider must have been Matti Egglestone in U14. Leading when his chain snapped so it was a trip to the pits and catch up, finishing in 19th. Next time Matti.
It was just after lunch and the temperature was rising. Tropical Southampton. The Junior Men were setting off with the Vet ladies. Fin was gridded on the front row but got a bit swamped and had to play catch up from there. His speed was good and finished in 16th. Mark and Thomas got away with the lead group. The pace was hot and Thomas got dropped a little with a few others and Mark remained up front and lead for a few laps. Mark finished in 4th while Thomas came in 10th. Josh was taking part in his first National level race putting in a strong performance to finish in 33rd.
Pam and Bev raced well. Those hurdles were big but looked enormous when the more vertically challenged people have to get over them. Bev was 7th and Pam 12th.
Last up was the Elite, Senior, U23 with Simon and James racing. James got himself into a nice little group and worked well to a strong 9th in the U23. Simon found himself in a bit of no-mans land and rode by himself for quite a bit. He put in a nice little effort in to stay up with Graham Briggs (JLT condor) as he was lapped which didn’t go down to well with Briggs. Smile it’s cyclocross. Simon finished 31st. Oh Ian Field won.
All done and the weary convoy made it’s way back up north. This was a one stopper except for Simon and his teeny weeny bladder. Some disappointments some great achievements but we all still had fun. Thanks for the cakes Christine and the CXNE on tour family. Another lush weekend.
ARE YOU BORED YET.
It is my intention to write a Tales from the Pits following the Trophies, Nationals or when I fancy. Unless I get heckled for this and I’ll not bother. It will be shorter (promise) and it will be more about the riders and races and less about the jet washing (I got my washer from Aldi, it was a bargain, it had loads of nozzles and good water pressure. I did have to change the hose as I burnt the last one……………)