The last weekend in September only means one thing in Vancouver……Cyclocross double header weekend!!!!!! New Brighton Park and Vanier Park play host to some of the biggest races of the year. Its been exactly one year since I started racing Cyclocross and this is where I made my debut. I wanted to improve on last years outings even thou I moved up a category this year.
NEW BRIGHTON PARK
Day 1 was New Brighton Park. Steed Cycles was one of the main Sponsors and organizers of this race so we were on site from 6am setting up the course and pits in what can only be described as torrential downpour. It was set to stay for the weekend too. But sure its Cross Racing what else would you expect? Once all the tape and stakes where in place the racing started. I was once again racing Master’s 3/4 and was delighted to have Steve Savage (Steed Manager) joining for his first CX race. He certainly has the horsepower but not the experience. After a sighting lap I knew he would be ok, sure he is a mountain biker after all. After my victory at the first round I got the Call-Up along with Bob Chew and a few others. We made the front row and Steve had to settle in at the back.
The rain started to pour even more as we left the line. My aim was to get off the start straight as safe as possible and into the first few turns. I was second into the first corner. By the next corner I was back in 3rd but happy to sit in. As we made our way around the field towards the Sand Pit I was nervous of the riders in front. I wasnt too sure if they had the commitment I had into the sand. My tactic is always to hit it as hard as possible and get 1/2 way across before I have to put the power down. As we entered the leading rider hit the brakes and rolled in slowly. I was at full gas behind him and had to swerve to avoid him. Luckily I passed him and kept going as hard as I could.
Now out at the front I had to make the decision if I was going to push on or sit in and watch the race develop. Its always a tough thing to decide. If I go hard and put a gap in I may tire near the end and get caught or if I sit in the pace may be to slow to shed people out the back. I upped the tempo til the end of the first lap and only one person came with me. It was one of my team mates Simon Pulfrey. We kept going and took turns leading out.
Simon is a very strong rider so we made a gap and held it. I watched his lines for a lap and always made sure I lead into the tight muddy corner at the back of the course were the hecklers stood. With two laps to go the conditions in this corner got very bad and riders went down hard. I fell victim to this and it gave Simon a chance to make a gap. He used it to his advantage and put the hammer down. I pushed hard for the rest of the lap and tried to close it down. Going onto the last lap I could see that Steve was well clear in 3rd now and was close enough to us. I kept my pace but tried to conserve some energy for Sunday’s race. I came in just behind Simon and Steed Cycles took a clean sweep of the podium…awesome!!!!
Roll on Sunday and it was over to Kitsilano to do it all again. By Sunday morning my legs had become heavy and tired. The conditions had not changed from the day before. I rode a pre lap in semi damp conditions and knew I didnt have the power for the course. It was all gonna be about a game plan. My original plan was to try win both races and have enough points to move up to Master’s 1/2 by the end of the weekend. No call-up for me at this race meant I was starting from the second row which was 10 deep. From the start I tried to pass as many as I could before we hit the run up. Going into the chicane before it I was in about 10th but jumped off and ran past a few guys struggling in the mud and up the steps. By now I was in 5th and watched the first place guy ride away. I was in group with Christian Hansen, Bob Chew and a few other guys. Steve was just at the back of this group. Christian had the power to pull the group up past the Cat 3/4 riders and off we went. He bridged to the leader and I gave chase. By the second lap myself and Steve grouped together and tried to catch. We got to the Mussette rider who went off the front and then set our eyes on Christian. He was strong and kept us at about 20 seconds. My aim was to keep Steve behind me as I didnt have the leg power to stay with him if he kicked.
Steve was happy to sit in and when we started to get chased by the Musette rider with a lap to go he went off the front. I had no answer for him and just had to try battle to the end. I dropped back to 4th and as I rolled into the last section of the lap I got caught by another rider. My legs had nothing in them to answer back. I finished 5th in this very muddy and tough race.
What a weekend it was. Im leading the Super Prestige Series now with a 1st, 2nd and 5th so far. Next up is Cross on the Rocks in Victoria and then another Double Header in Vancouver. Port Coquitlam were I won my first race and Mahon Park which is my local park at the end of my street. Lets hop Team Steed Cycles can claim more spots on the podium.