The Queens Birthday weekend saw us make our annual foray into cyclocross (CX).
Held in our home away from home, the Kiewa Valley, the two days of racing in Mt Beauty is one of the first events we put in our calendar at the start of the year.
We are by no means good at CX but it's an opportunity to have some fun on bikes we don't usually ride and get a serious dose of ego crushing. We were lucky enough to be riding our new Engine 11 Dirtee frames, masterly built by Dan from Shifter Bikes and we had some help with components from Sram Australia.
Unfortunately for us, day 1 was the State Championships so we were forced to race in Elite. Lacking any remotely good CX skills and racing in a very strong field left us essentially riding individual time trials to hold on as long as possible. A very hard but still fun first race back!
Above photos by Ben Lehner.
Day 2 had graded races so we lined up in B grade in the last row of the grid ready for another hour of pain and wondering who out of us would be the victor in our own brotherly battle. Ray has been in some good form lately in crits and on the track so I (Hal) was worried. I thought I'd have him covered skills wise but would that get me across the line?
The whistle blew and we clicked into race mode. CX has a very similar start to a fixed crit which was exciting. We quickly caught up to Ben Lehner (rides for another brand so we won't mention that). I was feeling good and progressed through the field leaving Ray, Ben and Harry behind. I thought I'd just keep going and never see them again - I was wrong.
After one lap Ben flew past me followed by Harry and then I was eventually reeled back in by Ray. We rode together for a few laps and then I thought I'd put my skills to the test and rip him on a snaking downhill section. I passed Ray then binned it badly in the next corner, sliding down a muddy hill on my stomach. Ray rolled past me saying "Good work fuck head" and then the next 10 riders flew past me as I lay face down in the mud. I never caught back up to Ray but passed a bonking Harry with one lap to go.
Ben rode the best race from the HBC Kiewa Valley High Performance Unit coming across the line in mid 20's, Ray came 32nd a good effort considering we started in 50th position and I rolled across the line in 40th. As always, we don't get too hung up on results but we were pretty happy to just finish and not get lapped.
I can't remember a race in recent times where I have laughed so much and been so hampered due to my lack of skill. It was fun and refreshing.
A few takeaways from the weekend racing CX:
1. CX is hard
2. If it's not flat I'm not interested
3. If you think you are good go and race a different discipline and you'll really see how good you are
4. As always if you aren't having fun then whats the point?
It was also great to see Melissa Anset take 4th in Elite Women on both day 1 and 2!
Thanks to the event organisers for putting on yet another great event.
Thanks to everyone who supported us and allows us to ride our bikes!