Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Round 1 Wessex Cyclocross League - Oxonian at Oxford Spires Academy

Slight diversion now, as I'll be blogging about the Wessex CX League events. Round 1 took place last Saturday 15 September 2012, at Oxford Spires Academy. The course was built around playing fields on two levels. Massive queue at sign on, and the blue of Cotswold Veldrijden abounded:

The Junior/Veteran/Women's event was recalled after about 3 minutes of racing, causing the pack to emit a collective groan. The false "start" was because the leaders went the wrong way around the circuit. I daresay that better communication from the commissaires could have prevented that. 

By all accounts, there were three incident packed locations:

1. A rideable grassy bank climb going up from the pit area to the higher level playing field (shown in the distance below):

On the climb, for example, riders falling or dismounting very close to the top, meant either carnage, or an overtaking chance for those following (round about where the flag is below):

2. A fallen tree in the woods with a ramp ~10m ahead of it. The log was jauntily placed diagonally across the path. With no competitors around, you could cross the barrier, remount and ride the ramp, provided you were in the right gear. However, with other riders about, it meant carnage, or a waiting manoeuvre for those following. There was no space to get past easily on the single track. Many people were dismounting, crossing the log, and pushing/carrying the bike up the ramp before remounting. I was forced to hug a tree to prevent a mishap. Some people were smiling when they emerged from the woods: 

3. A couple of steep, grassy, off camber, downhill banks, sloping towards a chain link fence around tennis courts (sadly, I have no photos of this). Thankfully, the ground was dry, but it was also very bumpy. I dunno how my teeth didn't fall out, and I didn't fall off! Many stories of splats against the chain link fence, and even some over the bars carnage. It seemed a way to do it was to pick your line from the top and pray, and don't try to change your line half way down. Mishaps meant (you guessed it) carnage, or a "flash of life before the eyes," for those following. 

Much time spent chewing the bars was alleviated (a little) by the magnificent weather. Sunshine and not much wind. 

Note how riders can leave the ground going UP this ramp - I've heard stories of folks landing in a heap after this kind of leap, so keeping in contact with the ground may be safer. 

Not bad photos for a mobile phone, if I do say so myself!

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