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Northern Area Cyclo Cross Championships: PX take silver

Planet X rider Dan Cook braved the snow to earn himself a well deserved silver. His blow by blow account makes you wheeze just reading it...


With half a metre of snow arriving the week prior to the event, I suspect most entrants didn't either expect the race to run, never mind get there if it did, so it was with some trepidation I left early on race day to try to get to the event in time to prepare and sort out plans with my (loaned) pit crew.

Fortunately we all arrived safely, along with the rest of the racing set.  I went to check out what I could see of the circuit (none as it was still some 6-9 inches under the white stuff) as the pit crew of Dave and Dan set out a plan for the day.  As it was, everything that would normally be rideable remained so, and the one steep run up was quite dry under foot too.  In fact, it looked as though the surface would break up nicely and the ground underneath be grippy too - quite a change from recent events.

As Dave and Dan left the normal pit equipment of jetwash and tubs of water behind, they headed off armed with snow clearing brushes and thin screwdrivers ready to clear out pedals and sprockets. I slapped on yet more leg warming balm and went to the startline to find deep snow making riding either impossible or slow, resulting a starting run of 200m before a short drop meant riding became feasible.

Absolutely no running machine, I surprised myself to be in 3rd place as we finished the start loop and came round on the rutted flat leading through the arena. As the track narrowed, I rode alongside another key title contender, Noel Clough.  Aware of the space fast running out and the chances of us both going down on the icy ruts, we looked each other in the eye and conformed to the order of the seasons results so far - I gave way!

Planet X Dan Cook Northen Cyclo Cross Champ 2010

As it was, that set out the running of the next couple of laps, Noel and I dropping the rest of the field gradually whilst blasting over the ruts, keeping our lines and knowing that the slightest mistake would result in either a painful fall, or a significant loss of time, and resulting places.  So with precision, a big gear and utter belief that if I kept going (fast), my Guerciotti X-Crow would stay upright (it did!), I remained within sight of Noel whilst Pete Middleton and Jough Watson were some way back in 3rd and 4th.

The fog encroached and drifted away throughout the event releasing the most fantastic views across Windermere (not that I knew about them, till I saw the pictures (afterwards!) There was no chance to take my eyes of the line in front, or even to change my hand position on the brake hoods, such were the ruts and slides.

That said, there really is nothing like learning a corner so well you know every lump and bump and can begin to drift both wheels knowing they'll grip on the snow formed berm coming out of the corner and drive you forwards.  I love riding on snow!  Of course 30psi in fancy cross tubs helps!

With about a lap and a half to left to run I got news from the pit crew that Noel was having problems with his pedal cleat.  Time to stop enjoying this riding lark and get on with the job in hand.

I could see Noel, still riding well, but I knew I was catching him, and I gave it everything I could, whilst still having to follow my bikes direction.  Riding on slippy and rutted surfaces means the bike tells you where it wants to go, not the other way around!  A canny rider, Noel was also cracking on and despite my trying about 10 seconds gap remained by the finish.

Was I spent? You betcha. I was doubled over the bars for about 5 minutes recovering.

Was I spent?  You betcha.  I was doubled over the bars for about 5 minutes recovering.  2nd place in the Northern Area Champs though, meant a happy bunny all the way to 200 yards out of the car park, when the fuel feed in my van packed up and we had to wait 4 1/2 hours in -10 degrees C for the AA to take us very slowly home (getting back at 2.30am!).  But thats another story...

Thanks to Cheryl King for the photograph.
More images from the race can be found here.

Grab yourself a top-flight Guerciotti X-Crow Cross bike like Dan's

 

9 December 2010

Cyclocross Kit

Comments

  • ianc (Planet X team)

    Hi John - it's on Frank's 'to-do' list. Keep your eyes pealed.

  • john millen

    Hello! Are you still doing these as builds, and what kind of price are these? Ta xxx