A non-’crosser takes on one of the muddiest races of the year.
by David Pearce
Having photographed cyclocross at PORC a couple of months ago I was eager to return to another race and take in the action. As a triathlete I am drawn to try this genre of cycling to test myself and build fitness over winter having taken an intentional rest period after the tri season. Not only is it off-road and away from cycle-hating motorists but there is mud. Lots of mud. I am no expert but common sense dictates that this equates to a force preventing the wheels for rolling so subsequently increasing leg power with the bonus of improved technical ability.
Today’s race would prove challenging not least because the UK has experienced one of the wettest January’s on record. The race circuit had in places become a mud infested ice rink it was so slippery. To tackle the course would need supreme skill and strength and a desire to ride through bogs. I even heard of a few people deciding not to race having completed a one lap recce of the course.
Speaking with some of the racers it became obvious that tire choice and pressure would be paramount to place in any of the races. The consensus from one of the guys at the pointy end of the race was to run handmade French tires (I forget the name so if anyone can comment..) at 20 PSI for maximum grip.
In addition, those with aspirations of a podium place would need a competent pit crew and spare bike to alternate with on each lap. As the race unfolded I witnessed how true this was. The guys at the front had relatively unclogged bikes whilst those further bike had pounds of mud stuck onto their machines. Brakes almost became obsolete the wheel rims were so caked in the brown stuff. Derailleurs hung off multiple bikes and I only hope they were bottom of the range models.
See more photos and check out Pearce’s work at different-perspective.co.uk.