CX Nationals weekend

blog Mercredi Racing

A full autumn already in the legs, on the weekend of the 12th and 13th of January, across Europe, pros and amateurs lined up to race for their national cyclocross titles. Clare, Adeline and Steve were out there – racing in Belgium or the UK. Knowingly out of contention for the jerseys, we soaked in the energy from the crowds and inspiration from the pros.

Before

Steve: It’s been a mixed season, one of those ones where off-the-bike ‘real-life’ has other plans for you. Hit and miss training and not much racing left me chasing form all season, I had all the excuses.

But earlier in the year I had committed myself to nationals. My first nationals experience was pitting for Clare and the Kibosh boys in Bradford in 2017 and I knew then I wanted in on that action at some point. Once they announced Cyclopark as the venue. my favourite course, I was in, no matter what I was going to be on that start-line.

Saturday

Ads: In a surprising turn of events, I found myself lining up for Belgian CX Nationals behind the world champion – quite a few rows behind actually. The Elite Women race in Belgium is on the Saturday, whereas both the men’s and women’s are on the Sunday in the UK. Earlier that day, in the team WhatsApp group, I gave my pre-ride verdict: “It’s SO hard. I can’t ride most of this course”.

Fear in the belly can paralyze me at times. But, that Saturday, it gave me a humorous perspective. I could hear my brothers’ and my mum’s voices getting more and more broken, every time I rode past them. I knew that, nose against computer screens, in China, in London and in Belgium, everyone was looking out for me.

Belgian Nationals Soup

So hard – it was. But I rode everything. And ran. There was a lot of running.

By the time I finished, I was exhausted and still laughing at what the hell just happened. I knew I outdid everything I thought I could do. Results didn’t matter at that point, I just wanted to hug everyone and share a portion of the Belgian mud I was still covered in.

Rossy:

“Sorry matey, I gotta go catch Ads on TV…she’s racing against Sanne”

No better prep for a race than being inspired and dead proud watching your teammate smashing it at Belgium nationals, where “everything is off camber” and “I can’t ride most of the course”. She did ride it though. Smashed it, in fact. 19th.

Sunday

Rossy:I was worried about the start. I’d screwed up the start at Derby National Trophy completely and was pretty sluggish at York. I didn’t have the legs to make up for another timid beginning.

But the start went ok, I surprised myself, managing to get within sight of the big names for a few seconds. I caught sight of Ads and Katherine on the first corner of the second lap. AWESOME! They’d rushed back from Belgium and unexpectedly made it in time for my race!!

Calvin Cheung Photography

From then on I got pushed on by the atmosphere…there were shouts from all over the course: velobants corner to the big hill to the pits.  No let up in the noise, the techy features or the competition.  

The race was banging and being greeted by Adeline and Beth (live from China) and my brother on the finish line was pretty ace.

Ads:

By Sunday lunch time, I was on spectator duties shouting at Clare to MOVE UP.

With all the racing and terror out of the way, carried by a sense of pride slightly out of proportion, fueled by a thermos of hot chocolate with large helpings of Whiskey, I felt absolutely on top of my heckling game. In between the nonsensical shouts, I managed to give BBH a couple of updates and by the time Clare crossed the finish line, our welsh wonder was live on Whatsapp video call. The world felt so vast and so tiny at the same time. Clare finished 14th and kicking ass. It was time to scream at Coach Steve.

Steve: So there I was, gridded waaaaay back in 78th of 102, having just caught glimpses of Clare tearing it up between signing on and warm-up and inspired by Adeline’s phenomenal ride in Belgium the day before, no more excuses now. Start tactic: move up and stay upright.

I dodged some bikes and bodies as we hit the pinch point through the chicanes and checked that off. After a quick crash into a hawthorn bush I settled in on lap one and to my pleasant surprise started to move up through the field. Over the first few laps I checked off a rider or two each lap. The technical but flowing track suited me, I might not have had the fitness but the bike handling was paying off.

British Nationals were dry and fast!

With Pidcock and Turner turning the screw at the front of the race I knew it was only a matter of time till I was pulled on the 80% rule. Target: 40mins of racing. Seeing 35 gone on the Garmin I knew that inevitable pull was imminent, Pidcock was flying and about to lap me (check the TV replay to see how that turned out, at least I got the team on the television!).Turns out that was the best 40mins I’ve ever spent racing on a bike. The atmosphere, cheers and support were unlike anything I’ve experienced before and spurred me on to ride into 55th place. I’m hooked, I’ll be back next year and hopefully I’ll bring my legs this time too.

A week later

Beth takes her MTB out after her latest trip in China.

Steve fight illness and lines up, probably one weekend too early, for CXL.

Adeline tries to squeeze one last bit of form in Glasgow.

And Clare has parked her bicycle for the rest of winter, testing her patience with recovery.

The 2018 – 2019 cyclocross season is slowly winding down with just a couple more races here and there. Tens of podiums and a good amounts of hands in the air, some big leaps forwards for every rider. A pretty ridiculous amount of miles covered, weekends totally dedicated and hard earned cash spent on race entry fees. All while taking on a job half spent on the other side of the globe, raising a kid and starting a business or launching a product that will change breastfeeding women’s lives, not to mention ploughing through an order book of bicycles longer than Rossy’s arms. The first season of the team was pretty damn busy and felt maybe chaotic at times. But with it written so large on our chests and our arses, we couldn’t possibly ever forget why we set off in that adventure. Good Vibes Only. Long live cyclocross.

Incredible support at Belgian Nationals

All year long:

We wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the help of our fantastic partners:

SRAM/Zipp

Torke Cycling

Colourburn Studio

Columbus and of course Mercredi.