Last weekend played host to rounds 3&4 of the Norwegian Cup in Cyclocross, held in Tønsberg and Skien. I had had a few interval sessions before these races, and had felt myself improving/getting back to my normal shape – rather than post-7-weeks-without-much-training shape!
The first race in Tønsberg was a little muddy. Not excessively so, but on the borderline of what my summer tyres could handle. Even so, I struggled every lap on the two muddy uphill sections, needing to get off my Nakamura bike rather than being able to pedal through, thanks to some wheel spinning from my inappropriate tyre choice!
The course featured some short, sharp drops, some barriers (urgh), and some sharp ups, as well as many corners.
As the start gun went, I found myself IN the sprint start, rather than just a part of it at the back. It took me by surprise and I slowed down too early into the first corners and was overtaken anyway! I lost the front group early, but just got stuck into my rhythm and pace. I was 5th at the finish again, but out of a much larger and stronger start field: roughly 20 women lined up on the start line, which was great to see.
For once, I had fairly consistent lap times, and I didn’t tire too much at the end either, just 15 second lap time variation compared to 30secs in the previous rounds. A nice surprise was that the race didn’t involve quite so much suffering!
The next day we had a drive to Skien, and arrived to a freezing fog day. Brrr. The course seemed to be my kind of course, and a bit atypical from other CX races. No obstacles, one hill, no mud, and no steep drops. A couple of sandpits and several corners, but generally the course was really rideable without much need to dismount.
Once again, into the first corner I braked too early and was overtaken. I soon overtook them back and then picked my way through the small start field. I ended 4th, but was most pleased to beat a few riders I haven’t before. Even better were my consistent laps – 8 seconds variation. Of course, I was working pretty close to my max throughout the course, and there was very little left to make an attack or sprint if needed. Luckily, it wasn’t as my final 3 laps were a solitary affair.
I’m now 4th overall in the series – without much chance of getting into the top three. I started CX for non-result related reasons, but I’ve found I really enjoy it and want to improve! I’ve also been really impressed with what a CX bike can handle, not to mention surprised at times that the Nakamura has just ridden something technical without batting an eyelid! This bike is far more capable to handle any CX race than my skills/speed …