Anything 4 A Ride MTB Club / Race Team
London Cyclo Cross League Rnd 9 22/11/09
Graeme Spreadbury
   Another round of the London Cyclo Cross League and this time it was at Penshurst Off Road Club. This is a Mountain Bike venue we’ve kept meaning to visit for a while, so an excuse to do a Cyclo Cross race there was to good to miss.

   On the way down the heavens opened it was obvious this was gonna be a wet race. The car park was pretty muddy and made me more set on getting a car with 4WD. Having a quick look at the course, it looked hilly and very muddy. Time for the Gore Alp-X waterproof shorts for this one.

   After registering I set out on a recce lap. I’d forgot my glasses so was getting mud straight in my face from the off, oh well squint and go for it. The course went along the top of the hill then into a fast right handed double track, which was very grippy and railable in top. A quick switchback into some more downhill this time going left, however there was a quagmire at the end of this, which brought you to a bit of a halt. Power through this and its another down with mud at the bottom. Lean back and sail across this, up a short climb then more downhill into a left handed 180 through some trees. Now it was a climb all the way back to the top. The course was very muddy down here and sapped energy. On this climb the bike felt like the gears were grinding, so I jumped off and has a look, but all seemed ok. Carried on cycling up to the top of the course, but something was very wrong with the transmission. It sounded like a coffee grinder, but the gears weren’t jumping. Once at the top of the hill and back at the start I had a proper look at what could be wrong. The bottom bracket bearing had given way and the cranks were moving from side to side, great, I had no spares with me and the start was in 3mins. I decided to just ride it out and see what happened.

   Lined up on the start (near the back as always with the cross races) and waited for the horn to go. When it did we were off and there was quiet a bunch into the first corner (180 hairpin). The first lap on the downhill section I was overtaking loads of people, this was where the MTB was coming into its own. Bit of bottle and leg out action on the corners and the bike flew down the course. However once the course started to go up, my chain started to suck. This was really annoying and completely put me out of rhythm. It was sucking because the front chainrings were moving due to the bottom bracket bearing being shot. At points I’d loose all my momentum and have to jump off and run. After 4 laps (about 30mins) of flying down the hill and struggling back up, I had to call it a day. I didn’t want to break anymore of the transmission. I was caked in mud at this point and after cleaning the bike, decided to wash myself off with the hose to.

   It was disappointing not to finish the race, but didn’t have much choice. Thanks to Katie for coming down to support.