Round 3 of the Support your local bike shop Munster CX league brought us to Mallow Co. Cork, I was very pleased with myself to be there nice and early at 9:30 to set up the Verge custom clothing stand till I met ex national champion Fiona Meade who told me she has being there since 6:15 am setting up the course and she had being one of the late arrivals!!!
The course looked in splendid condition and everyone who was doing warm up laps was commenting on how much fun it was, the finishing straight was buzzing with activity from the sign on tent to the all-important coffee truck and strands from Sports Food Ireland and Focus bikes both of who are a big backers of cyclo cross in Ireland.
When I was getting set up the kids races were taking place, it was great to see a large number of kids taking part from little kids on balance bikes up to u14’s who looked like they would give the seniors a run for their money. I am lucky enough to supply a large number of clubs in the Mallow area so had plenty of familiar faces to chat to which made the time fly, only one customer recognised that I was too busy chatting to buy coffee and did the honours for me and grabbed me a coffee, so many thanks Damien there will be a discount on your next order!!!
The B race had a great field of 51 taking part with most riders on MTB bikes giving cross a lash but also a number of them on cross bikes, the course was bone dry and suited to close racing as it was not overly technical. As we lined up for the A race it was good to see that a number of riders had rode the B race in previous weeks on MTB’s but had now taken the plunge and gone from a cross bike. There was 65 riders down to start the A race which was the biggest field to date, a large number of riders had made the trip down from Leinster which will hopefully encourage more riders to travel (it’s not that far!!)
I was ranked 4th in the overall prior to the race so was lucky enough to be gridded on the front row which in a field of this size was a great advantage. One of my goals on the way down was to lead the race at some stage so I gunned it from the start line and immediately grabbed the lead, I also immediately regretted my over exurbance as I quickly had lactic acid coming out my ears. Matt Slattery from Killarney quickly put me in my place and over took me and gradually pulled away from me. Paul Birchall and his team had built a bridge on the course (well Pauls team had he said make it 9 foot and when he came back it was 12 foot!!!) it was an awesome looking bridge looked strong enough to drive a car over, it was steep so required full commitment to get up it, I was glad to make it over it without falling off and holding up the whole race. Shortly after wards round one winner Kevin Keane overtook me and immediately punctured so I was back to 2nd, the barriers were the next technical feature on the horizon. I had never hopped the barriers previously (or attempted it) but during warm up I had managed it twice, at this stage I was still not sure but said feck it and risk it so I did, it was not very gracefull or fast but I made it over but also lost a spot to Matty Taylor and Richie Barry. I quickly got around Matty and then Richie decided to fall off in front of me so I was back up to 2nd again with Matt even further gone into the distance.
Out onto the second lap I was massively regretting not having a bottle on the bike, I know it was the last weekend in October but it was unseasonably warm. I was overtaken by Niall Davis and Evan Ryan of WORC half way around the lap, I still had the local favourite Matty on my wheel as we approached the barriers I opted to jump them again while he ran, he was quicker than me again but I over took him quickly again and he conveniently fell off on the same corner that Riche had on the previous lap. On the 3rd lap Mr Cyclo Cross Robin Seymore over took me, I actually thought he would probably have done it by the first corner but he was gridded at the back of the bunch and had a lot of traffic to negotiate. As we approached the end of the lap I passed the early leader Matt Slattery running with a rear wheel puncture (he later told me he was riding the flat until the tube got wrapped around the disc and to change the wheel they had to take out the brake pads). I was back up to 4th at this stage and was thinking that thing were really going my way as everyone seemed to be running into problems.
The next rider to appear on my radar was Paul Norton he closed up to me very quickly but didn’t really ride away from me so I was able to stick into him, as we approached the barriers I decided to run over them as I was getting tired and had battered through them the previous couple of laps and it was bound to end badly soon!! I stuck with Paul for the rest of the lap it was good for the head to have a bit of a break and be able to follow someone. Paul then ran into trouble and fell off on a corner and broke something on the bike and was out.
At this stage as we entered the last third of the race I was looking safe enough in 4th when I ran into a bit of trouble myself, coming off the ramp my chain bounced off the chainring, so much for the SRAM 1X system and there claim the chain will never come off, it happened last season in the mud and now in the bone dry. It’s a bit of a pain to get it back on but I managed to get going with the loss off about 20 seconds. The effect of this was that Peter O Farrell and Trevor Woods closed up to me, I tried to lift it to keep them at bay and my HR monitor reflected this after wards but I was running on fumes at this stage, with 300m to go Peter got past and I had nothing left to fight back and I crossed the finish line in 5th which I would have signed up for at the start. Robin and Evan grabbed a 1-2 for WORC with Niall rounding out the podium in 3rd. With the spate of mechanicals that befell my rivals from Munster I had enough points to match Matt at the top of the league so I will have the honour of wearing the Verge leader’s jersey in the next round
Big thanks to all at Revolution CC in Mallow for putting on the race and PI Cycles for their sponsorship, it was genuinely an excellent event and course, the next round of the Munster CX league is De Ronde CX on the 12th of November you can enter here, https://fs26.formsite.com/DeRondeVanCork/form2/index.html looking forward to seeing you all there.
Many thanks to Sean Rowe for coming to the event to take the great photos that were used in this peice.