Mike Simpson

With A Bit Of Luck......

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"Be careful it's very icy in Marlow" But Dad I'm in Dorset!........he knows I am, I spoke to him last night. Even though I'm approaching 42, he is still worrying about me, (bless) and waking me up, phoning to warn me about the road conditions 130 miles away! Oh well there goes the lie in, I'm not racing til the afternoon but I'm up now so let's eat porridge.But guess what he was, as always, right as within 10 miles of leaving Portland we saw 3 crashed cars (one upside down) and then around the corner a wrecked ambulance being loaded onto a recovery vehicle. All looked to have just happened. I look over to my driver, (and pit crew) , "wise words from Dad this morning" :) "left at this roundabout Davina.......no left....left....LEFT"..............but we go right!" She's a bright girl is Davina but the difference between left and right always seems to elude her. Somehow we arrive safe at today's venue, Wareham Forest for a Wessex Cyclocross.

On the warm up I manage to leave the track on a descent and fall head over heels, a marshall runs up the hill to check I'm ok, I jump back on but seem to be unable to change gear, might have to race on my back up bike......but I've got my Reynolds tubs on this bike, love riding with them, so I stop to adjust and after a few minutes of unskilled mechanical input the problem seems to be ok, but I now realise I'm on the far side of the course away from the start with only 6 minutes til kick off. I hoof it back, luckily the grid hasn't been called yet but I'm in oxygen debt already with an hour of big effort to come, still at least I'm warmed up.

The fall on the warm up has got me worried about that descent, trying to race down it, faster with riders in front and behind. I don't like worrying so I switch to robot mode and just try and concentrate on the job in hand. This course suits me well, lots of sections to go full bore and luck was on my side on the technical parts as for once I didn't fall (unlike last weeks brilliantly bonkers course in Harwell which had me on the deck countless times). By lap 2, me and Mike Cotty had got clear of the rest of the field, he was getting away from me on the descents and  I had to make it up on the flat. (we were pretty evenly matched on the climbs). After 4 laps I was really enjoying it, I know there will not be many days when I'm able to match pace with someone with such technical ability and racing aptitude. You need it all for cyclocross...skill, power, a racing mind and luck. As we take the bell for the final lap, the fall on the warm up now starts to haunt me, I seem unable to change down off the big ring, at the base of the main climb Mike has descended so fast and has a few metres on me, I have no option but to shoulder and run the whole climb. Having had to run up half of it on an earlier lap I knew it takes more out of you than riding. At the top I pray for a smooth re mount, I hit the power on the first pedal turn, I've got a gap to close. The inclines on the second half of the lap were just about ok in the big ring but I really needed to beast them to get back on terms. The sprint for the line could have gone either way but I guess it was my lucky day.

In no time we're off in the van again,  I think I traumatised Davina with a 80's music fest on the way home but in the passenger seat ensconced in a sleeping bag (got to keep the old legs warm) I was just concerned with ensuring we went the right way, be it right or the other way! Once home bike washing, kit cleaning and tomorrow training route planning, all had to be done before a quick glass of wine with Davina and a fill up on baked potatoes.

Now as Davina sends herself to bed, I settle down to watch the horror film Carrie. I remember at school at the age of 15, the day after it was on tv, everyone was saying they watched it, I lied and said I did, when in reality I had watched the first half (lots of teenage girls in gym kit) but was too scared to watch the second half (blood, gore etc). Now halfway through  I fall asleep on the sofa.....never mind with any luck I'll see the second half next time.



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