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A couple of weeks ago, Karen was browsing on the British Cycling website for events in our area and noticed a Winter Go Ride Cyclo-cross event within striking distance. Now, since reading an article on this very website about a boy who tried out cyclo-cross for the first time, my boys have taken to tearing around the garden at high speed, embroiled in a battle for the top spot on the podium (don't even put the idea of building one into their heads!), so much so that the garden now resembles a motorcross track. Manicured lawn? Forget it!
So the opportunity to let them loose and try out cyclocross event was too good to miss. On Saturday, I gave the bikes a check over, pumped up the tyres and removed the close fitting mudguards on T's bike to avoid them becoming mud traps!
Sunday morning came, the bikes were loaded onto the roof and off we went. We were warmly greeted by members of the area's local cycling club who were promoting and running the event, with the boys quickly whisked off inside to sign in, while one of the team gave the bikes a safety check. With all in order, the boys headed nervously around the corner to take a peek at the course.
N, our eldest (7 years old), was really not keen on taking part having what can only be described as a 'swarm' of hyperactive butterflies having taken residence in his stomach. However, with a little reassurance and some subtle diversionary tactics, I managed to coax him out onto the grassy field for a quick spin on his bike. He was using the Frog 55 with a mountain bike front tyre I'd found in the garage, rather than his Giant MTB which is slightly heavier due to the suspension and which wasn't really needed for this race. The lttle chat seemed to do the trick, as he was now as keen as mustard to get his number pinned onto his top and get stuck in.
Five year old T on the other hand, was already numbered up and focusing himself ready for the task ahead. This was after a torrid night of sickness on the Friday, which saw him get a maximum of two hours sleep, coupled to his desire to ride off into the distance at pace even before the race had begun. So he was pretty knackered before they'd even lined up at the start!
The course was a lap of a school field, with a small hill at the start to contend with and a turn around in a wooded area before heading back to the starting point.
As there were not many children, it was decided that they should all start together, so the age range was from five up to about eleven.
As newbies, N and T started at the back of the group and were able to get a handle on what was expected, setting off and trying to keep in touch with the others.
T was the smallest and youngest in the group, and his little legs were pedalling furiously on his Islabike Cnoc 16 in a attempt to keep up. Unfortuately this didn't last long as he wasn't on the pace, much to his annoyance (v competitive small person)! He kept going though and managed to complete the course, and got a round of applause for his efforts.
N came across the line beaming from ear to ear, which was a beautiful sight to behold. He can be a quiet and shy boy at times, so I love it when he does something that takes him out of his comfort zone and he realises that it was no big deal after all. A superb confidence booster.
Then it was inside for a quick snack and a drink, before heading back out for the handicap race, with the riders setting off at intervals based on their times from the first race. T set off first and made good ground, and save for a bit of trouble getting stuck in the woods, he might have made it to the finish line in first place. As it was the pack were bearing down on him like a wounded gazelle and he was swamped at the bottom of the hill.
The handicap race was brilliant, because until the last few metres it really was anyone's race. The organisers did a fantastic job doing this as it levelled the race for all, and the look on the younger one's faces spoke volumes as they dashed for the finish line.
Afterwards, N was talking ten to the dozen obviously enjoying the adrenaline flowing through his body, and totally ecstatic about having taken part. Looking across at the contemplative expression on T's face, it was obvious that he was planning for his rise up the ranks. Bring on next year!
Cyclo-cross races take place all across the UK between October and March. To find an event near you visit the British Cycling website.
Check out this post on the best kids cyclocross bikes if your child is interested in getting more into the sport.
This Blog was first published December 2013
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