So as a mountain biker/part time roadie what do you do as once the dusty singletrack has started to turn to mud and the leaves are starting to fall? Some might say that you should stay inside and keeping warm, next to the fire over the long winter months, or sweating uncontrollably in a shed while going nowhere on a turbo trainer. Not me this is the time of year I start looking for directions to different areas of park land around the east midland. As it is time for the Notts & Derby Cyclocross League to start up again for another season.

It’s mid September and I drive out to a farm south of Derby and gather in a field with 200 like minded people dressed in brightly coloured clothing. Had this been the early nineties the police might have been paying close attention and looking for in the words of Pulp “E’s and Wizz”. They might still find a few suspicious scenes as riders take small foil sachets from pockets and squeeze them down their throats, or sit only wearing bib shorts warming up on rollers. Not been in the super serious racer category my warm up usually consist of pedalling round the course a couple of times and chatting to folks I have not seen since the last race.

Season Review:

  • First race round 2 NDCXL finish in the thirties uneventful no major incidents to report.
  • Second race round 3 Markeaton Park, lapping rider swings over into me resulting in them hitting the deck, check to see if they are O.K. and continue race. Next lap on singletrack through wood get stung by wasp, karma! Finish in the thirties again.
  • Heanor Clarion event in Shipley Country Park, my local park so ride down to the race with the kids, Rosie and Iris both take part in the under nines.
  • The course in Shipley not one of my favourite’s hilly and fast end up finishing in the 50’s after having an eventful tussle through a ditch at the end of singletrack, this been documented in a series of photographs then been spread through social media.
  • Round 5 was back to the edge of Derby in Allestree Park a good race for me enjoy it do the usual amount of suffering. During my post race warm down of eating a bacon and egg sandwich and looking for Iris, I notice Team Sky and British Cycling directory Sir Dave Brailsford sure he would have approved of my warm down.
  • My club DVATC help Belper BC with the setting up and marshalling of this event. I arrive at 7.30am in the rain to mark out course rain continues all day after 10 hours stood in the rain feel very cold. Looked like a good race to be in rather than marshal.
  • NDCXL round 7 Bingham Leisure Centre, bad race for me suffered and suffered some more!
  • Bramcote Park race cancelled due to Mud? Some very puzzling debate on social media around this discussion, council been the deciding factory in the end.
  • Work trip to the Far East results in me missing to next two races so will not be getting muddy again till December.
  • After a break from racing rearing to go when we get to the race at Sherwood Pines. Really enjoyed this one good to be back on two muddy wheels, only one minor incident as a ride is taken out by lapped ride in front of me on fast rooty section I squeeze through the carnage to claim a low forties finish.
  • Round 14 takes place at Chilwell Barracks one of the more interesting venues been an active MOD barracks. While warming up shots are been fired in the riffle range. I could have done with been put down during this race, Christmas excess catching up with me on muddy hilly course.
  • Final race Broxtowe Country Park it’s a mud fest after the week before disappointing race this turns out to be my best race of the season. Twisty muddy singletrack ideal for a rider more suited to riding a mountain bike all winter in the mud. Flat sections that are so muddy you need to get off and run/plod through. Reward for all those muddy night rides on my singlespeed round the Derbyshire dales.

After been over looked for the World Championship squad again that’s my cross season over for another year. No more parklife for me, till next September. So remember it’s not just you joggers who go round and round who love a bit of PARKLIFE!

John Billsborrow – Head Designer