Enter the hurricane
The forecast that didn’t quite make it in time for the Cyclocross National Championships finally arrived on Saturday night, and looked to continue to well into Sunday’s racing schedule. We are not just talking a little rain - rather a proper deluge and knock-you-down force winds.
By morning the weather had delivered its dosage. We’ve written before about the disadvantages of double-header weekends, one such disadvantage being the lack of variety in conditions and climate. Adelaide disproved this theory in a single weekend, transforming a mild Adelaide winter and dry(ish), responsive track, into full European cyclocross conditions.
By Euro conditions we mean a deeply wet and muddy course and freezing temps. We packed on all the clothing we had brought, and huddled under the tents for some respite from the wind. Movement was reduced to a careful shuffle on the hazardous and slippery surface.
The masters racing set about destroying any remaining grippy lines for everyone else. Green is grip, so they say and, by the time the old-dogs were done plying their trade, there wasn’t much green left.
It is not often that the elite riders follow the masters race with much sustained interest. Not because they think any less of their older adversaries (they’ll be there one day), but because they have their own preparation to focus on. Today, however, the elite riders were glued to the action, moving from one tricky spot to the next, watching the master riders intently and assessing their own line choices for later in the day.
With each successive lap the weather and course, in perfect harmony, continued to degrade.
Peta Mullens was on the start line, ready to destroy her brand new Focus Attaquer Aus Champ skinsuit.
The weather too, stepped up to the plate, resulting in some of the most savage conditions yet seen in Australian cyclocross. The rain was torrential, eventually upgrading to hail. Sadly, not enough photographic evidence exists of this section of racing, with most of the photogs bravely scurrying for cover.
Crossing the line in 1st place for a second day in a row, Peta was clearly the cleanest of the racers. Those who’d spent any time on her (or anyone else’s) wheel were painted head-to-toe in thick slop.
|Peta Mullens||Focus Attaquer||40:35|
|Natalie Redmond||Oz Riders||+0:00:35|
|April McDonough||Flanders JBlood||+0:00:39|
|4||Rebecca Locke||Team WillyLocke||+0:00:43|
|5||Stacey Riedel||Spin Cycle La Velocita||+0:01:04|
By the time the elite men took to the start line, you almost felt sorry for them. Granted, the conditions had eased slightly, from apocalyptic down to a far more manageable heavy-to-torrential rain and gale-force wind from, seemingly, every direction. However, with every rider now thoroughly soaked and shivering, the idea of ploughing into lake-sized puddles of freezing water for the next hour, while others looked on, dry and thermos-equipped, must have been slightly less than appealing. Still, national series points were at stake - so plough they did.
As hinted, the course was now actually flooded in parts. The small lake that had never been anywhere near the course had, by now, breached its banks, completely submerging significant sections of the course.
At times it felt more like a slip n’ slide than an elite cyclocross race. Spills aplenty were had by all, but seemingly enjoyed most by Dylan Newell (cue the Benny Hill theme music).
Despite the seemingly inevitable J-Blood win, a number of riders pushed up the rankings after taking to the conditions better than some of their more-fancied opposition. Paul Redenbach (Flander J-Blood) & Nick Smith (Racing Ink) both put in excellent rides, showcasing their skills in the mud.
Humble thanks to Port Adelaide CC and their volunteers for putting on one the best CX weekends to date. We hope the grounds have recovered, and that the council let us do it all again next season!
|Chris Jongewaard||Flanders J-Blood||57:30|
|Tom Chapman||Focus Attaquer||+0:00:48|
|Christopher AITKEN||Focus Attaquer||+0:01:10|
|4||Paul Redenbach||Flanders J-Blood||+0:01:33|
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