Sunday, June 30, 2013


Cross season is in full swing here in ‘stralia but the usually pleasant weather has meant rider have been without  a muddy par cours to indulge their skinny tires.  Riders were however in luck, as what felt like a month of dreary rain set up the Newcastle velodrome CX course for a mud bath of the filthiest kind.
Shuttling to the race with Sean, a key instigator in the Sydney CX scene, we arrived to watch the support races tear the turf to shreds. Before their start water was standing 4” deep in places, and by the end of 40 minutes it was a thick brown slop with the consistency of porridge. It was to be the stage for one of the single dirtiest races I’ve had the pleasure of riding in.
Sean and I abandoned our plans of a practice lap, holding on to the vestiges of civility offered by my light blue Carbon Drive kit by setting up rollers under a tiny awning,  sheltering form the onslaught of freefalling  felines and canines.

The race commissarie wasn’t half a funny bastard, taking time to give an extended welcoming speech from beneath his umbrella while riders shivered and cursed the rain. When he finally shouted ‘Go!’ and the 40 rider field hit the fast back straight, my vision became splattered with brown splotches as eyelids blinked desperately to clear a path to follow between the surging riders. As seems to be a theme I started well, holding a solid 5th in the field and clawing back the leaders on the runs.

Photos Dean Osland
My downfall in this race was failure to pick the right cog ratio on by Raleigh Hodala. Thinking that the balance of the course was fast and flat, I’d kept it at 64” and while this proved great for back straight and around the ‘drome, trying to get on top of it through the muddy twisty sections proved to be like wading through treacle.  For next time when the course is this sloppy, an MTB ratio of 52” would be far more appropriate, if a little less manly. Check NBN News for some awesome race footage including your truly showing some (lack of) running form!
Photos Dean Osland
While I was battling and pulling out the best facial contortions I could muster, It was a blast, due in no small part to the spectacularly rowdy crowd and bangin’ tunes on offer from a DJ at the course high point. This single feature set a festive mood and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone there on the day who didn’t finish up with a smile, or at least a crooked grin.
Photo Grant Moylan
I finished up the race in 7th place with a mud beard as if I’d just polished off seven courses of the stuff. A power wash for the bike and shower for the limbs, the latter plagued by some dodgy drainage which quickly rendered the floor of the bathroom as filthy as the lead in to the velodrome on course. We packed up Sean’s Carolla and drove back to realty, content at having indulged our dreams of racing cross in proper European style mud.

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