This weekend, we were back in the action with Gosse for the fourth round of this year's National Trophy season, just half an hour drive away at our 'local' race at the South of England showground in Ardingly. With Ian Field just 16 points ahead of Gosse in the overall standings, it was to be a pivotal race in the chase for the series.
The European Championships in Italy had a big effect on the race. With very few races on the Belgian/Dutch domestic calendar, any riders who had not made Euro's selection had to find somewhere else to race - with many opting for the mud of Crawley. The result of this was that the field was absolutely stacked with talent, with continental teams such as Telenet Fidea & Pauwels Sauzen Bingoal being represented.
We had some pressure washer issues throughout the morning and, to cut a long story sideways, by the time the racers headed to the grid we had resigned ourselves to a bucket & sponge situation. Not ideal for the muddiest race of the year thus far (even worse than Milnthorpe). Gosse decided to run with 4 bikes, and what with a very long lap (we predicted 6-7 laps for the full race) our woes were lessened. Then, when we did need to clean bikes, the legend that is Chris Macleod once more came to our rescue. His immense skills with a lance, despite already being in charge of cleaning for no less than 3 other riders (Callum Macleod, Ryan Christensen, and Alex Paton all of Canyon DHB), meant that Gosse had a clean bike on every half-lap change he made.
As the whistle blew and the riders hurtled along the very long straight and under the finishing banner, spectators watched on nervously as 80 riders travelling at 40-50kmh approached a very muddy first corner. Carnage soon followed...
"The start was a long one and we hit the mud straight in the first wide 180 degrees corner. Unfortunately one of the riders close to me goes down and takes me with him, another rider fall over my and lands with his shoe in my front wheel and gets stuck over there. So straight after the first corner I am on the last place (around place 78). I take a new bike in the pit straight away and I knew that it would be all or nothing to try and save my big goal this year.
Well, that all didn’t work out… I came back to a 17th place and I knew that my ambitions for the series could be moved to a new season."
It wasn't how any of us wanted it to go, and to have a race or season aim dashed by things beyond your control is sometimes harder to take than if you'd just given it your all & fallen short of the mark. Gosse worked immensely hard for his part in this season's attempt, but bike racing isn't famously the kindest of sports. We'll be back for rounds 5 and 6, with the same aim of winning races & enjoying being part of a clearly thriving cyclocross scene. We've come to love the familiar faces & general positivity around the circuit, and it's one we'll continue to be a part of so long as we're welcome.
(Thanks to Breakaway Digital for the photography)