How might one start a new blog? I have been wrestling with this conundrum since being asked by the Editors and Publishers of Australian CX Magazine over a few restorative pints in the Four Pines. Should I enlighten you, the reader, with my CX palmares (brief but the sailing one exists) or my crash history (extensive and embarrassing) or a rant on UCI Rule 5.1.052 (coming)?
No. So after all the ruminations I will settle for: Hello, and a big 99% MHR welcome to “Behind the Barricades: A view from the Tail End”. Mr Jeremy Powers, CX racer, good bloke has his “Behind the Barriers” so I shall have my “Behind the Barricades”. In most cycling magazines it is those at the front who get heard, luckily as CX is different those at the back will have a voice.
File treads or mud tyres, that is the question?
Excitement in Melbourne and across the nation is building for the CX season ahead. With the dates of the National Series and the various local CX series being announced early in the year it has been possible to plan well for the season well in advance. So a big thank you to all the national and local organisers. When flights, accommodation, and car hire has to be organised the longer the lead time the better, especially for the majority of us racers who are unsupported and sponsor free. Every dollar saved on travel expenses can be reinvested in spares or beers. Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney are in the calendar with Perth a probability. What work meetings can be organised?
What do we want? More Racing. When do we want it? Now!
As CXers we want more racing nationally, but more important locally. If CX is to grow and flourish it is axiomatic that races and more racing must take place. How will this be accomplished with limited resources: more races or better utilisation of existing race courses? A question as difficult as the Cranwell Park hill but one that needs to be debated amongst the wider CX community.
One solution is to run several races at once on the same course. It happened at the Nationals Masters races last year and nobody complained. And yes, the Mens Masters was the largest field by far. Races in the US, UK, and Ireland all have multiple races on the same course in an effort to maximise participation. Another is to get more entries into the main NCXS races, men and women, by not applying Rule 5.1.052 allowing everybody go full distance. This might make the main race more attractive the mid to back marker. And no, we don’t get in the way! Alternatively, or maybe as well, make the support race longer than 30-40 minutes. It is a long way to travel interstate to do a support race to get 25 minutes amongst 70 people.
A longer term solution is to help clubs or private promoter that are interested in CX to run races. Most CX types that I have spoken to are more than willing to assist. Changing the culture at pure track or road race clubs might be difficult but it not impossible. Private promoters could run more races. For example, there is talk of a race at a Geelong winery. Brilliant. What about a CX race on the Saturday evening of the Sam Miranda Road Race?
There are many dedicated club members from a small number of clubs across the country upon whom the majority of the race organisation falls. And an immense thank you to them all.
Front Wheels & Rear Brakes are a Heady Mix
So, what is like at the back of a National Series race? Fun? Soul destroying? Hard fought? All of the above? On the 6th row of the grid when the whistle blows everybody still attempts to get to the front. Most don’t make it. Safety first and a clean start disappear like big Paulie up Blakie’s Erection. Crashes, wheels getting caught in brakes, and general carnage. And then there is the first corner. You lot up the front don’t know what youse are missing. Then you settle in. Where are the blokes who are normally drift to the back? Is that Nick C just ahead of me? Has Sean C had a flat yet, or is it too early in the race? Low and behold after 40-50 minutes of eye balls hanging out the dreaded 80% red line gets you in the end.
How’s It Goin?
At the time of writing my personal Butchers Bill for CX training this season is low at only one sliced finger. This occurred in “a putting your finger in the disc rotor when it is still moving ” type accident. Lesson learnt, should have stuck to cantis and worn a high viz vest. For those who know me might describe my CX racing career as accident prone. In 2013 there were three should er injuries from learning how to bunny hope in my mid 40s. One chain breakage when lying second in a Whittlesea race. One chain on the inside of the cassette in the Darebin NCXS race. Lots of falling off in corners. Finally losing the bike off the roof rack. So three months into 2013 with only one injury is a great start to the season. What with the training program that Diane Lily and I have been following (thanks Secret Coach) there are great hopes for this year. And hope does spring eternal. And we have been practising cornering as well. Why, oh why, did we not start training last year or 2012?
Not Behind the Barricade: the Rant
UCI Rule 5.1.052 contains the dreaded, for us mid to back markers, 80% rule. Please Commissaires read the Rule carefully. 80% is discretionary and to used in major world events. Rule 5.1.051 allows for racers to be lapped. For the sake of good racing for all please use your discretion to not apply it. Why was the Rule not applied at the Nationals and Darebin when it was in Adelaide and Sydney?
Yours at 22psi