In early August an email landed in my inbox that went something like this:
Our next CX race is on 25-Aug, then the Nationals are the 29/30-Sept. If I can hook you up with a very sweet bike will you come and race?
I’m not sure if it was the pretty please that got me, or the part where it came after the promise of a very sweet loner bike. Left with a ‘how could I possibly say no to that’ feeling, I had three weeks to do absolutely nothing about learning how to run with a bike and jump on and off it without causing an injury. (I did run down my own street at one point after I sold my car to an auto driver who couldn’t find reverse, but I left my bike in the hallway on that occasion because, let’s face it, running with bikes in an emergency isn’t a very fast way to get anywhere.)
The sixth round of the Sydney’s HED Winter Short Track & Cyclo-cross Series, held by the Manly Warringah Cycling Club, took place in Terrey Hills, not far from St Ives. I arrived with enough time to adjust the seat height, eat second breakfast and learn how to change gears on an unfamiliar system. Nick “I’ll mono-hop anything you put in front of me” Both took me on a quick loop of the course explaining all the fast lines and how to read them with 700c tyres.
I’d imagined cyclo-cross (CX) races as being all about mud, dismounts/remounts and a whole lot of grimacing. But there was only one section that required my badly executed off-on manouvres, and a lack of competition in the female field meant there was no unladylike hurt faces to speak of either. The rest of the course was a selection of super fun corners, challenging little pinches and a bit of pedalling in between. My favourite part was hooting around shortcuts through the BMX track, trying to hold enough momentum to get to the top of each sharp rise.
After a great morning in perfect August weather everyone pitched in to pack up the course and talk bikes a bit longer before continuing on with their day. The attitude of everyone involved, along with the email that got me there, speaks volumes about what a great atmosphere it was and how much the organising crew are just super, super keen to see more people get involved. There were lots of races for riders on mountain bikes as well, with a final, fast CX shoot out last off the mark.
I’ll miss the National Series events due to too many other emails about how great the Kowalski Classic marathon in Canberra is shaping up to be as well. But if you’re in Sydney on the last weekend of September, it’s worth grabbing any old bike and coming along. Or grab your pots and pans and participate by making some noise. I reckon it’ll be too much fun for words!
Photos: Kath Bicknell