Years ago, when I was a little cross curious, Cyclocross Newcastle held this mythical race. There was mud. At this point, I was racing fixie cross, and hadn’t fully committed. After that race, and the subsequent legend status of that day, I decided cross was something I wanted to get involved in.
Cyclocross or cross for those of you unfamiliar with the discipline, isn’t anything new(although relatively new in Australia). Some crazy Europeans decided they needed to gain skillzzz and winter, off road, and on road bikes, while drinking beer, was the way to do it. I’m a bit of a history buff, so I decided to stick to the original spirit of cross, and leave the proper racing to those who want to race.
The evolution of me going from a cross dabbler to enthusiast happened shortly after that first muddy Newcastle race, it was a perfect combo of new friends, fun racing, and (after my roadie was stolen) the need for s new bike. Enter Chicklet, my crit/cross/crux.
Over the years it has done me well, I have managed a couple podiums but most of all I’v had a hoot at the racing.
But, deep down, something was missing. Mud. NSW was notorious for canceling races with rain. Year after year, I would see photos of Melbourne, America, Europe, all muddy. While NSW could only offer dust.
Then, last week, the weather forecast came in. East Coast Low! My heart fluttered, could it be, will it be, have the cross gods aligned the universe for another damp Newcastle race?
As the week went on, word around the office (I work for water NSW) was there was going to be a rain event. The weekend got closer and the buzz around the office grew bigger. There was going to be rain, lots of rain. Instead of thinking about dams and catchments I was getting all giddy about the cyclocross. I was bursting with excitement, words could not express the joys I felt. I was finally going to race a wet cyclocross race.
Race day! After being woken up several times in the night from torrential rain, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.
Packed my bag, race cloths, after race cloths, kit to wear to the train station, more dry cloths for the ride home, blankie, onesie. Left my house at 6:30, atm, train station… Train delays. Yep, thank you city fail. I had a 15 min buffer for the change over at central, no dice. Looked on Facebook for a ride, no dice. By about 8am I realised, I was going to miss the start.
At least I had coffee.
I also ran into another racer, Ben, late on the same train as me.
Eventually we crawled into Broadmeadow at 11:15.
We got to the track just in time to watch B grade and the women’s division. There were 5 women, Fiona, Nicole, and Alice smashing it out for the podium, Shay getting baptised in mud during her first season of cross, and little Lucy, poor Lucy, she was on a 20 kilo mountain bike with another 20 kilos of mud. The little champion.
Warm up- nope. There was no way I was going to get wet and cold before the race.
Show time! A grade was called to the line, and I strategically placed myself at the back of the grid. And here it started the best race of my life! The little drizzle was a pitter patter on my soul. Drumming on my helmet, keeping the rhythm of my cadence. I was in my element, mud. Too bad my racing skillzzz weren’t up to A grade standard.
Lap 1 stacked it on the velodrome, dropped my chain.
Lap 2 went for a swim in the mud puddle
Lap 3 stacked it on canteen corner just as the announcer was talking about the lack of stacks
Lap 4 this!
Lap 5 ran into a fence, ran into a tree, hit a peg, slid down a hill, and professed my love to Gary Milburn (he lapped me an it became my last lap)
After the race I grabbed a refreshing beverage and a pork roll, omnomnom.
Then someone went to clean the mud off me, I wasn’t ready, so I rolled in one of the mud pits. It was one of those days, you couldn’t get the smile off my face. Although transport let me down, I’m glad I still raced. I think I got the muddier run. There was no way I was going to miss this ‘once in a lifetime’ cyclocross race.
I would like to take a moment to give a shoutout to Cyclocross Newcastle for hosting the event, especially all the volunteers. Shannon, for trying to help with my getting to the race, Ben for being company on the train, the other Ben for the photos, Christine for the heckles and video, anyone who heckled, thanks for sticking it out in the rain, Carl for the ride home, without you guys, I doubt the day would have been as rad.
Oh and Mother Nature! God Damn! You put on a show!
Till the next race (cx Newcastle rnd 3).
For your viewing pleasure here are a few of my favorite pics of the day!