Karen Poole, who rode with WattCycle on the road in 2015 and, following the demise of the team, will compete for the Vertex-PedalPowerSport team next year, entered the sixth round of the Cyclocross North-East League on Sunday wearing the jersey of the Hambleton RC. She won, with a 6″ advantage to Jo Rycroft and 24″ to Nicola Davies: both very experienced riders and thus a very respectable result, especially considering it was only the second time Karen’s ever raced CX.
I bought a second hand CX bike from good friend Ali Kinloch (VCUK-PH Mas) over the summer, predominantly for the purpose of giving me a safe, solid commuting bike for those long, dark, damp and cold winter months. CX racing was certainly only ever a secondary motive. I train and race too hard in the long road season to think about any serious racing over the winter.
I did, however, decide to have a go at my local clubs CX race in Northallerton in September – that race didn’t have any of the silly obstacles in the way, so it was just like a crit race on grass and it went ok. Then, a couple of my mates from Hambleton Road Club were doing the CXNE race near Richmond yesterday (1st November), also very close to home, so I thought I would go out and have another go…
I was dreading the dismounting and remounting that I knew would be involved in the race, and wondered how I would get on on a more technical course. On road speed, I knew I had it over most of the other girls in the race, but it’s nearly 10 years since I called myself a mountain biker (and even then I wasn’t that great technically) so it could all go very wrong.
As is normal with CX, the start was gridded, and with no races, I was right at the back. I wasn’t going to let the race go away from me before I was even in it, so I quite assertively pushed my way through and soon enough there was a group of 6 or 7 of us away off the front. With pressure being applied by Bev Martin (Adept Precision RT/NE Healthcare), this was down to just 3 of us at the end of lap one. I had coped fine with the technical sections and the dismounts (although my remounts left a lot to be desired!). There was a drag up from the start, and I decided that I wanted to go quicker than my breakaway companions, so I put the boot in and got a gap very quickly.
It was shut down at the hurdles, so I went again on the next ‘roadie’ section of the course and never looked back. Apparently there was a bit of carnage behind me and poor Bev came off worst, having to do a long run to the pits to get a replacement bike. Onto the last lap I had a good 30″ lead. And then disaster nearly struck, as I slipped out on one of the off-camber corners that was getting really slippery. This gave the fast finishing Jo Rycroft (www.cxmagazine.com) a sniff of hope, and she put on a huge last minute surge to make me sweat a bit climbing up to the finish. But it wasn’t quite enough and I got my arms in the air for only my second win of the year, and my first ever cross win.
Huge thanks have to go out to my club mate Kev Dawson for the cheers of encouragement and time checks throughout the race. I’m still a roadie, and will always be that way, but as beginner’s luck goes, I’ve got it in bucketfuls for CX! (Text © Karen Poole)