The mud. Soft, gloopy, soon to be impenetrable We jockey for position. Mark nervously avoids my handlebars (I’m getting a reputation). Paul blags himself a favourable gridding. Matt nurses a hangover. The warning comes. ‘Anytime in the next 30 seconds’.
18 and off.
A scrum. Chaos. Bikes and riders everywhere. This is what it must have been like in a WW2 dogfight. The scene was later described as ‘dangerous’. I prefer ‘interesting’. A rider swings across my vision from left to right. Then another, from right to left. We all jockey for the corner. I’m through. A good start. It won’t last for long though; I start and end well. The middle is the problem. Then it’s down to scrapping.
It’s a short course; almost enough to make you dizzy. But that it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. This is true old school cross – none of your fast conditions here. Just mud that belongs on Flanders fields, broken up by mud that conspires to be muddier. Did you know such stuff existed? Well it does (on Porthamal farm at least).
We ride many laps. 10? 12? 15? Who knows? It’s all a muddy blur. My hands are draped over the handlebars and I grind. And grind. And grind. I don’t need an excuse to stamp on the peddles and shun the beauty of the perfect cycle. But today I’ve got one. In spades.
Frantic. Hard. Frustrating. Does cyclo-cross get any better than this?
This piece relates to Welsh League round 10 at Porthamal farm. With thanks to Joe Lally and his team. Good luck to all riders in the Welsh champs – and elsewhere – this weekend. More beautiful cycle art by Eliza Southwood (see her website for sales info).