Roll in the Hay with Bob – Adam Walton – Mens Cat 4
Roll in the Hay at West Newbury was my first cyclocross race and in fact my first ever bike race of any type. My wife suggested we stay up there on the Friday night so we had dinner in Newburyport and then I walked the course at dusk. The course was virtually all grass, with more ups, downs and cambers than I had expected – just a couple of barriers and no running sections. Pre-race the biggest challenge was trying to establish the positioning of the race number, nobody near me seemed to know for sure but we worked it out. There was a large entry in the Cat 4 race with 63 riders on the start line. My first half lap of cross was a very steep learning curve and I hit the ground hard twice on corners, with a displaced chain as a result. 5 minutes into my first race and I was dead last with no other rider in sight. From there on it seemed like a good idea to concentrate on staying upright. Fortunately I soon got sight of the next guy ahead of me and pulled myself back to him. That was the pattern for the rest of my race, no more spills and managed to gradually pass 12 more guys to finish in 51st place. Learning points for me: use the small chainring (34), I started out on the large (50); despite all the practice, remounting in a race is difficult, I don’t think I achieved one smooth remount; my bike-handling skills (especially cornering, descents, cambers) are poor, I always lost ground in these sections. On the positive side my dismounts were good (not a big deal for most people but I’ve only been using clipless pedals for 3 weeks) and my strength and fitness was not a limiting factor, I always made significant gains on the riders in front of me on the climbs. Overall, I had more fun than I ever had racing as a runner, which is just as well because I’m racing at QuadCross in 3 hours.
QuadCross – Adam Walton – Mens Cat 4 35+
Day 2 of my cross career and this was definitely a step up in difficulty, much more varied, technical and, for me, hazardous features in a great course at Maynard. Again a large entry of 63 in the Cat 4 35+ race. In many ways the same story as yesterday, chaos and mayhem in the first half lap with 2 falls, one heavy, leaving me virtually in last place. Once again I managed to settle down and work some places back, finishing in 43rd out of 55 finishers according to Crossresults. I may be a clumsy bike-rider but I’m still a reasonably strong runner so I decided pre-race to always run the hilly S-bends after the barriers and also the sand section. This definitely paid off and I was able to make gains each time through. I tried to concentrate hard on keeping my weight back on corners and need to learn how to brake whilst on the hoods, too often my hands seemed to be in the wrong place. Overall this was a great event which was a lot of fun for spectators.