An early start some eighteen hours earlier meant that my personal high spirits had peaked sometime in the early hours of 2010. Which is why I didn’t race (plus the fact that I am a total girl when it comes to getting my bikes dirty.)
It’s truly wonderful that cyclo cross seems to have found a natural home down in SE24. Being an outdoor track, le velo is only available to race for eight months of the year. With the a sizable grass banked perimeter bordering Burbage Road, plus a little creativity cutting through the centre of the track, a first class cyclo cross course is now in operation for the winter months.
The New Year’s Day roll out was more of a social event than a serious fixture in the season. The big boys are racing around like mucky pups next week, and so Friday was the ideal warm up event ahead of the serious racing.
We arrived in time to see the start of the Madison. It’s an event that I don’t understand, the riders probably don’t understand, the race officials perhaps don’t understand and no doubt Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish still don’t entirely understand understand either.
The basic premise is for teams of two riders to take it in turns at putting the laps in. This partnership was perfect for father and sons, couples, and even brothers and sisters, to all get a dirty backside on the New Year Bank Holiday.
Ah yes, the mud: I’m told that it’s all part of the attraction of the discipline. I was reduced to putting a scented hankie over my nose when a cyclo cross kid wheeled his mud machine past my freshly polished Moulton.
The Herne Hill course soon started to cut up. With little mudguard action in place, the laundry bill looked expensive. No worries – riders could pick up a lycra bargain at the bonkers bicycling jumble sale, being staged at le velo car park. These too are also becoming firm favourites in the Herne Hill calendar.
As tradition dictates, the dawn of a New Year is a time to look ahead. The cyclo cross was a great place to catch up on all the VCL gossip, as the track enters the new year, still fenced in by the pathetic political manoeuvrings of both Southwark Council and the mysterious Dulwich Estate.
Tessa Jowell? She said that? Blimey. Kate Tally Hoey did what? Seriously? And as for Boris? Cripes (although we all knew that, anyway.)
With an athletic pairing taking the chequered flag in a time just under an hour, I was somewhat tempted to take part in cyclo cross. Twenty-four hours later, and following a rather muddy road race with the lovely Dulwich Paragon, and I felt that I wasn’t really missing out much on the brown pants lycra action.
Cyclo cross it seems is the new triathlon, which we all know is the new marathon. It’s the boom discipline within cycling, and it’s not hard to see why. Athletic ability doesn’t give you much advantage; nerves and technical handling are all important.
Next year. Maybe.