A Day At The Races
Words: Bruce Dalton & Chris Lanaway
Photos: Chris Lanaway
London X League – Ardingly Showground
Sunday November 20th saw the London X League head to the Ardingly Showground as part of the Sussex Cyclocross League. With the cancelation of the Koksijde CX World cup due to bad weather, the turn out was strong. Michael Butler (Hargroves Cycles RT), Bruce Dalton (Team Kinesis), Matt Noble (Specialized Racing) and the infamous Jonathan Dennis (Kibosh Racing) on his single speed set the pace high on what proved to be a challenging course. Heavy rain the night before meant the mud finally arrived to the UK cyclocross season.
This race was local to Kinesis UK HQ at the Sussex Showground in Ardingly, it was a round of the London and South East Cyclo Cross series and was contested in the aftermath of storm Angus.
Tyre pressure can make the difference between floundering around in the mud or surging purposefully through the slop, I love using a digital gauge to satisfy my inner nerd and set things up equally on all bikes. I ran a conservative 21psi front and rear, the fine line between feeling the rim and having too much flex in the tub.
Part of the ritual of racing for me is putting on a fresh skinsuit, inhaling the distinctive perfume of embrocation and generally preparing, like a race horse at the gates it makes my heart pump.
Warm up is crucial for a good start and a good race, the purr of the rollers echoed around the horse stables I used to shelter by as I span my legs off. Now deep into the CX season my car is packed with box’s ,wellies and water ready to deal with the mud of winter racing.
A bike ready waiting patiently to be passed up to prevent mech snappage and mud related issues. . Though a jet wash is great tool for the job, a stick and bucket have saved more races than you’d think.
A pit crew is a vital part of any team, I supported my friend Frazer earlier in the day and he returned the favour in return. When your riding really hard a clean mech and open tread do make the difference to be able to keep the power on just that bit further.
Over the line, the relief and exhilaration of a race well done. I’d chased the super strong leading pair all race, in hindsight I went too hard off the start and should’ve focussed on following the strongest legs not the fastest starters. Still there are plenty more fights left this season, and it was a result I’m happy with being my first podium in a National A category race. Still will be chasing that win this year.
Racing isn’t all glamorous, the bikes still need washing and your kit needs tidying. Racing is always easier when you have supporters and friends at races to help you out.
Clean bikes and clean body, wearing from racing the inevitable pack down completes the ritual. A sore body rewarded by a good result. The stool in the picture has been taken to races since I was a kid, it keeps things off the floor and provides a good washing platform. It’s as much a racing tool as a good bike or a pump.
It’s always good to thanks the organisers who work tirelessly to put on events, they get far less credit than us racers and like Dougie (pictured) we wouldn’t have races to ride in without them.
I’m looking forward to developing my form into the muddy heart of the season proper, next weekend I’m really motivated for the next round of the national series at Ipswich. Hannah leads the trophy and I’m chasing some points and another decent result.