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Over the past four years I had been talking myself up about how great of a cyclocross ex-champion I had been back in North America. I figured it was a safe exaggeration and surely no one would ever find out how bad I really was. What are the chances that there would ever be a cylcocross race in Australia?
Well Friday the 13th was my day of reckoning. Just before I left home I was frantically searching YouTube trying to remember how to mount and dismount like a cross pro. After watching some lame videos I said “screw it” and relied on my primal cyclocross instincts. I figured they’d come rushing back to me at the first barrier.
In 30 degree C heat I rocked up with about 25 of Australia’s early adopters of the sport. I nearly turned straight around when I saw the contrast in how I was kitted up compared to the others. You see, I had begged Peter from Cycling Edge to borrow the coolest bike in his shop – the Titanium Moots PSYCHLO-X. This was the stallion that would make all my exaggerations and dreams come true.
The MOOTS made a big statement that I was serious about this race. When I saw that almost everyone else was on fixed gear bikes, mountain bikes, Frankenstein bikes, etc, to say that I felt like a bit of a TOOL is an understatement. If I don’t win this race I look like a bit of a dickhead…if do win this race, I look even more of a dickhead.
The gun goes off after a 20 minute liability disclaimer by Matt (the organizer). It’s important to get the “hole shot” in races like these otherwise you’ll be locked in a traffic jam in the first section of singletrack. I thought the Moots would take care of it all and I’d just have to sit in for the ride. WRONG! These guys were motoring! After 3 seconds of easy pedaling I realized that it was ON and the Moots could only go so fast in the little ring.
I came into the singletrack section in about 6th position and I had a hell of a time trying to keep up with these guys. Shifter Dan (the best wheelbuilder in Melburn) was in first place by a huge margin. Since the race was only about 35 minutes long I knew it was going to be a struggle to catch him in time for the finish.
Barrier after barrier I nearly ended up on my face while trying to dismount. There’s a bit of a trick to dismounting at 25km/hr and transitioning straight into a run which is very counterintuitive at first.
After many near faceplants and endos I made my way up to Shifter Dan’s wheel. Since he only had what looked like a 69 inch gear on (and a set of Edge Wheels the same as mine) I couldn’t help but catch up to him on the flat sections in my 50×11. He smashed me in the technical sections however and put about 20 lengths in me.
I finally caught Shifter Dan on the uphill run on lap 3 and passed him as he clearly was CBF while on his feet. I knew if I put in a hard effort at the top of the hill once I got back on my bike I’d get a good gap.
I was away and clear but knew I had to keep out of site to get the psychological edge (yes, I took this way too seriously). On lap 5 I came up behind TC who was covered with mud, blood and dust from a nasty crash on the technical descent (where I bit it once as well). I made sure he knew I was there by chopping him off into the gutter as I passed. All is fair in love and bike racing.
I ended up crossing the line first but Shifter Dan didn’t concede and came in only a few seconds behind me (on a singlespeed mind you). It was a battle to the very end I’m certain the result would have been very different had some of the competitors adopted a nifty new invention called “gears”.
In the end the question is this:Will cyclocross ever take-off here in Australia? This was apparently one of the first organized cyclocross race held in the country (to our knowledge). Is this the rudimentary beginnings of yet another sport that Australia will dominate on the world scene? I certainly hope so…
Thanks to all the competitors who made this race so much fun and the organizers/pioneers who made this happen. These things are always so much more work than they appear to be and everyone appreciates your efforts.
Now, where the hell am I gonna keep this 30kg trophy?
photos by TommyP