Geoghegan’s Report From UK National Series Cyclocross:

Michelle Geoghegan competed in the British National Series Cyclocross on the 9th December (Ipswich UCI C2) – she was supported by the Women’s Commission , read her rider race report below

“In a galaxy far far away……..

With the start of the road season fast approaching cyclocross does increasingly seem to be on a different planet so the phrase seems oddly apt as an introduction to this  . It’s also apt in that the race I’m writing this report for was quite some time ago, early December in actual fact!!! “You should be honoured by my lateness.” Hmmm, maybe Kanye can get away with that.

On an aside when you start quoting Kanye West you know you’ve been listening to the turbo playlist on the iPod way too much lately!!!! Anyhow if procrastination was a super power well I’d have signed for Marvel by now so time to crack on.

On a Saturday morning in November, with the help of some funds from the Women’s Commission, myself and Wobbles (long suffering boyfriend) and a van loaded to the hilt headed for the Eurotunnel. Panda (our spotty dalmatian), having made the trip to a previous round of the British National Series had given me that “Oh God no” look as I packed the van on Friday so she was off frolicking in a field with her new dog sitter for the weekend. She didn’t even wave as we pulled out of the driveway, 

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of the Eurotunnel, it’s fantastic. You arrive like any time within a 3 hour window of your booking and get on the next available train. You roll on and sit in the comfort of your vehicle, in our case a once yellow now grey former minibus turned camper van, and 25 minutes later, boom, you are in the UK. Fantastic that is unless the dreaded phrase “Incident in tunnel” happens to appear on the display board as you arrive to check in. So much for well laid plans. 

Over four hours later and we finally boarded the train with all hope of arriving at the race venue in time for the course practice well and truly dashed. British Cycling is super strict when it comes to course practice times. If you are on course 1 second before it officially opens or one second after it officially closes you will be shot on site. This effectively means that the most technical parts of the course have queues that could rival Disneyland. 

Race day. First things first – porridge, then onwards to the race venue. It was a nice bright sunny day if a tad on the windy side. Myself and Wobble headed out on course to see what the craic was. I, as always, spent the first lap waiting for the “scary thing that I can’t ride” to appear around every corner but all was good. It was a pretty flat fast course.

There were 2 big bridges one of which had weird oversized steps that my poor little legs never got to grips with. There was one set of gigantic hurdles that I’d swear actually grew as the race went on. You had a section of your what I like to call “steep uppy downies” which also included another set of steps. From there you headed into a tricky turny wooded section which included a log which I managed to jump, go me!!!!

With a few practice laps in it was back to the van and trying to stay warm. An outfit change , multiple cups of the Barrys and some food and it was nearly time to hop on the turbo. I had just gotten a new frame and lets just say that the new set up didn’t fit quite so securely in the turbo so the warm up was somewhat compromised….. well it didn’t really happen. Here is a shocking confession though, I never warm up for races. Most road races have neutralised sections. I despise time trials so I certainly ain’t warming up for them. Consequently I really don’t have a warm up routine so I would probably just have spun my legs around aimlessly for 15 or 20 minutes and gotten off again. This is one of the many wrongs to be righted for next season.

A race that starts with a full bore sprint requires a warm up!! That is now written in a notebook – it is on file as they say!!!

Call up time and I am on the front row thanks to my UCI points. Now while most would celebrate a first row start, in this field it kind of just had the effect of unsettling me. The standard in the UK is high especially when all the big hitters with the exception of Brammeier and Wyman are on the start line. And so there stood little old me sandwiched between Anna Kay and Bethany Crumpton waiting for the start whistle.

I didn’t have a great start but it wasn’t terrible either. We raced up the start/finish straight then took a right and another right and we were over the first bridge. This was quickly followed by the barriers, chaos point number one, quickly followed by another pinch point where we were forced to get off and run as it was “total gridlock man”!! Now I am what they call a dirty sider. This means that I get on and off the bike from the drive side. Think of it as a left handed cyclist. This creates some issues, in this case finding my bike very easily and quite firmly attached to somebody else’s. This happens with frustrating frequency. 

Having managed to free myself I was off on a mad chase to catch the rest of the race. I had been working pretty hard on my cornering and skills but in the heat of battle all that went out the window and I reverted to your basic manhandling of the bike and horsing into corners at 110% only to emerge 3 days later. By the end of the race I was completely knackered. 

I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t exactly happy with how the race went. In theory the course suited me pretty well and I was hoping for a better result but in the words of good auld Kanye “that that don’t kill me can only make me stronger”. 

We are now in that magical time for all cyclists “the off season” where all wrongs will be righted and anything is possible – harder, better faster, stronger. Opportunities to race these kinds of races fuel the motivation to get out, mess around on a cx bike and get better. 

Big thanks again to the Women’s Commission for giving me a hand to get the race. Until next time – tot ziens!!