The Ups and Downs of a Cyclocross Season

daniel holmesHaving not raced for the last few seasons I decided that I would have a crack at this years Cyclocross. I had never raced Nationally in this discipline so there was going to be a challenge gaining the skills and the particular fitness required for this event. In preparation I planned to race as many of the local CXNE events to gain some experience. I race in the U14 category which is a combined race with the U16 category. Typically there are around 40 competitors in the race across both categories.


On the 8th October I turned up for my first ever cyclocross National Trophy event in Derby. The standard of the courses at the National events is much harder than the local league. There were 140 entrants in the race, roughly 50/50 in numbers across both categories. It was quite a shock to the system and I felt quite nervous. On to the starting line and gave it my best. I finished 35th in category and 2nd North East rider.

I missed Round 2 in Abergevenny as I was on holiday at the time.

Round 3 was in Shrewsbury on the 12th November. It had rained all the previous night so the course was very wet in the morning. During practice although it was wet the mud didn't stick to the bike. By the time my race started it had dried out and the mud had turned into a clay which stuck to everything. I did one bike change and about 1/4 lap later due to the conditions my rear mech ended up jammed in the back wheel. Icarried the bike ti the pit and changed back to my original bike which had been cleaned by our star pit man Pete Hodgson (we couldn't do without Pete's support in these races). I eventually finished in 33rd. An improvement on my first race.

Round 4 in Gravesend on 26th Nov. A different course technically but much better conditions than Shrewsbury. Finished in 18th position and the 1st North East rider in category. Very pleased with the result.

3rd December was the North Of England Championships in South Shields. I was feeling really fit and confident. Had a very good start in the front bunch. Unfortunately I stumbled and crashed at the first hurdles. I was working very hard to get back to the group when I was cut upend crashed a second time. Unfortunately I had injured my knee and couldn't get back in the race. Very disappointing as I am sure I would have been on the podium.

Round 5 National trophy was the following weekend in Bradford. Unfortunately I had to withdraw from starting as my knee was still very painful from the previous week. I had two weeks off the bike due to the knee injury. I trained hard to regain my fitness from the knee injury only to come down with a virus over Christmas. Nevertheless I was determined to ride Round 6 on 7th Jan in Ipswich. An interesting course that part way round went through the middle of a barn which was full of stalls selling cycling goods and coffee. A very windy and cold day and finished in 18th position.

The final major race of the season were the National Championships at Hetton. I still hadn't recovered my full fitness from time out for injuries and illness. This was a very physically demanding course and I had a really tough time in the race. I came in a very disappointing 39th with my worst National result for the season.

In summary including the league I raced in 16 events over the season. I came 3rd in the North East league and overall was happy with my performance at National level. Learned lots and looking forward to next season.

Daniel Holmes