A look at the course at night. Andy Rogers

A look at the course at night. © Andy Rogers

by Hamish Fitzsimmons

The biggest crowd for a cyclocross event in Australia hit the Brunswick Cycling Club’s Velodrome on Friday night for the prologue of Dirty Deeds 2012.

So much for the thought at 5:30 of, “What if no one comes?” We sold out early, which was a bummer for some, including those who’d traveled from afar.

The buildup for this season has been pretty big and from the look of some of the bikes on display, things are getting serious. Once again, the cyclocross gods were kind, and we had rain during the week and fine weather on race day.

We were also relieved to see Brendan Bailey (the man who brought us race reports from last year) at the race to take up commentating duties. Things wouldn’t be the same without him, so we’re thankful he’s back in 2012.

Everyone got two heats, which involved two laps of the course per heat. The prologue was run within the confines of the velodrome, so course designer Nik had to be devious with limited space. Luckily, he was able to include a stomach churning ‘Spiral of Death’ in one section, which even tested the skills of the likes of Lewis Rattray.

First up was the kids’ race, from ages two to 15. The biggest cheers from the 500+ strong crowd circling the velodrome came for the youngest competitors as they negotiated the mud with what seemed like ease. They were the lucky ones as the mud began to stick as each round progressed.

Dirty Deeds gets the seriousness and the fun of cyclocross. Andy Rogers

Dirty Deeds gets the seriousness and the fun of cyclocross. © Andy Rogers

Co-commentator and committee member Hamish noted that this was the first race in which we’ve seen a pink cape deployed as a part of race strategy/bling. This prompted discussion over whether or not capes could provide the extra edge some needed. The soundness of this theory was tested later.

The open race is when the crowd and racers really started to get going. A notable absence was our regular unicyclist, Matt Thomas, but we’re hopeful that he will be back to show off his superior balance skills come round one on the 15th of July at Darebin Parklands. Matt did, however, win his second heat on the Open class, proving two wheels pose no problems.

Jarad Kohlar and Steve Duggan won heats one and two. Steve started the race in full cape and beard in homage to the wizard staff teams in the crowd. In fact, some DDCX regulars opted out of racing in favor of linear can construction. Why? We still don’t know.

The proudest moment for DDCX was the first women’s race. We’ve been aiming for this for a while and through no small effort on behalf of committee peeps Nik Cee, Blakey, and especially Kate Lansell, we managed to draw a strong field that was dominated by Mel Ansett.

The men’s cyclocross category was split into three races with 30 riders in each. It was excellent to see Lewis Rattray back and winning on his home turf again. For those who don’t know, Lewis represented Australia in the European cyclocross scene last season (including Worlds). He started his second heat a lap down and still managed to overtake a couple of riders. Will he dominate again this year?

We’re pleased to say the trash talk was kept to a minimum by Chief Commissaire Dave Morgan, but pro peloton inspired head butts and elbows slipped through.

Dirty Deeds wouldn’t be what it is without the people who come to watch and race (all 143 of them). The crowd surprised us all and the stage is set for our biggest CX series yet.