Ben, Boom and Andy started the weekend early, travelling up to the Peak District on Saturday to scout locations for a Condor Cycles photoshoot. The weather was grim: a howling gail, howling drizzle, and howling cold temperatures. It seemed winter had well and truly hit the north.
Cold, wet and with a couple of shots in the bag it was back in the Condor van to Derby for a rock n' roll night of riding the turbo in the Premier Inn, using the Gideons Bible to prop up the front wheel. Even Alice Cooper would feel bad about that. Apologies to our religious fans.
One day someone will cotton onto the fact that bike racers need coffee and they'll start turning up to races with one of those Piaggio Barrista bikes. Until then, we're sorted with Ben's Handpresso and travel kettle, and Andy's 12v Moka pot.
Seriously, race organisers, get some decent coffee at your events and everyone will be happy!
There's a lot of hanging around and junk to transport at a cross race. The racing is spread over a full day, and you need to be prepared for every eventuality, times two, as you really need to be able to run the same type of tubs in both bikes should it be needed.
Derby was remarkably dry, but we all ran muds as it was greasy enough that the risk of sliding out in a corner wasn't really worth the extra speed on the straights.
Then the racing started. First up was Kevin in the vets, followed by Delia and Claire in the Women's race, with Ben and Andy racing in the afternoon with the Senior and U23 Men. Kev's cock up of the week was missing his gridding... One day he'll put his brain in before the race, be in the right place at the right time, not have a mechanical, either self-inflicted or otherwise, and he'll get a good result. Until then, 12th is about right. Our regular dueling partner Greg Simcock did cracking ride for fourth place though, well done!
In the women's race, the girls rode well, coming seventh and eighth, Badass and Boom respectively. If you could mix Badass's fitness and Boom's skills into one rider - Badoom - you'd have a podium contender, no doubt.
Juniors we like: Emily Barnes and Hugo Robinson. We should do an interview with Hugo, we could use some tips on how to go that fast and make it look soooooo easy. The kid has talent.
And then to the seniors.
Fuck it was hard. Windy as hell which made being in a group a huge advantage, but twisty enough that staying in a group was hard as hell: that concertina effect making life very unpleasant. The field was stacked as well. Both Andy and Ben did their best rides of the season, Andy finishing on the lead lap, and Ben getting caught by the leader on his final lap. And yet neither cracked the top 40.
Time was that hard work, abstinence from any kind of debauchery, lots of intervals and decent bike handling skills were enough to see you finish in the top 25 at the Trophy series. Not any more. Now you need TALENT as well.
Time to create a Singlespeed or Masters category for choppers like us perhaps?
Nick Craig: hero
Roger Hammond didn't have the best time of it. He crashed, probably more than once. His sleeve was already ripped when Boom saw him somersault and land on his head. As an indication of how hard it was, he only finished 20secs and five places ahead of Andy.
Paul Oldham: another proper working man's hero.
Then it was over, after 70mins of racing for Andy. Ouch. Then onto the long drive home to London.
Next stop on the Vicous Velo Tail End Tour is Bradford in two weeks. See you there perhaps?
Till then, there's a shit ton more shots on Flickr