Having taken part in the last City Cross event at piece hall I was excited to see what was in store this year! The route looked a little more technical then the previous route at Halifax Piece Hall with lots of sharp corners, obstacles and berms to navigate. I rocked up to the event early to gauge the competition, to my surprise it was already packed full of spectators, novices, pros and youth riders ready to get on the track for a test run before events started. I double check the bike the night before, changed the slicks to CX tyres and double checked the gears and brakes. The rear brake wasn’t in a great state but I was under the naive impression that I’d only need my front as I wouldn’t be needing to brake too much given it’s a race! I tentatively took to the course in between the youth and ladies event, started just after the ‘Kinesis Whoops’ section. Picking up some speed, darting around the sharp corners and testing my poor dismount technique it soon becomes apart that I’d need a little more brake assistance than first thought!
After completing the course once or twice two things became very apparent, the course was super technical (but so much fun) and I definitely needed a back brake! Luckily living 5 minutes from the centre of Leeds I nipped home, sorted the rear break and got back in time to watch the Novice Moto 2. It was just as much fun watching the other races as racing in person, especially stood beside the ‘Kinesis Whoops’ as people tested there technical abilities on the double bumped ramp otherwise known as ‘Kinesis Whoops’. There were plenty of people choosing this path, many of which who didn’t quite make it over, falling off and causing other riders to have to dismount and weave between the fallen riders! My race soon approached, lined up at the start I realised I hadn’t been nervous until now, maybe the effects of last weeks racing helped? I entered the senior race (apprehensively) given my second place last time so I figured it was only fair to test myself.
The whistle soon goes and the starting bunch attempts to tackle the ‘Kinesis whoops’ or winding cones (you could choose either route). The group splits up and I find myself chasing another 3 folk, two mountain bikers and a CX rider. I remember there being a general conversation between friends around which bike is best to ride for cyclo cross. Although I’ve tried both I’ve always found a cyclo cross faster and easier to control off road however bigger obstacles are more difficult to navigate so it’s ‘swings and roundabouts’. In this instance the main benefit for riding a mountain bike was wide bars – there was absolutely no where to over take simply because of the width of the handle bars!
After a few laps I soon figured where best to attempt over taking as the main thing I had against those on mountain bikes was acceleration. Prior to any attempts the gent in front of me banked a corner too steep and took a nasty tumble (See video at the end of the post for crashes!). With this in mind I powered on and over took the remaining two in front. I think at this point the top seven or ten had developed quite a significant lead and there wasn’t anyone in front that I could see which in some sense was a relief, no pressure for me to catch up!
My cross techniques are still to be reckoned with as I soon realised dismounting late and not being able to fully pick my bike up, ending with the chain off and tangled within itself. Four or Five places lost just like that!
Mechanical sorted I jump on and get back into the swing of things knowing my chances of getting through were probably minimal. Last couple of laps to go and I decide to ramp it up a bit, maybe getting a little ambitious on some of the corners, so much so I slide off and hit the ground hard! After seeing too other people sliding off you’d think I’d have been a little more cautious right?
Pretty chuffed with my efforts regardless of the mechanical and I finished 13th place and was ready for a beer or two!
The whole event was wonderfully executed and I’m almost 100% certain everyone had a wicked day watching or competing! The City Cross events are like no other and really give people a taster as to what’s expected from the world cyclo cross, albeit with a little more fun added to the pot!
Huge kudos to Oli, Dave, Emma and everyone else who helped put such a brilliant event together!