Posts Tagged ‘Tour of Cornfields’

Tour of the Cornfields 2011

Posted: September 5, 2011 in 2011, Events
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Tour of the Cornfields by slowjo61 at Garmin Connect – Details.

This fourth time this event has been held, it was extremely well run. Sign on was painless, riders were despatched in small, manageable groups and the feed station was well stocked with a variety of produce from the standard bananas and water, through the whole gamut of cakes to Clif bars, go bars and pre mixed electrolyte drink. Signage en route was exemplary.

Becoming the traditional entree to the cyclo cross season or preparation for the notorious 3 Peaks, this event is low on excitement i.e. no singletrack or bombholes and high on graft. A combination of road and round field boundaries (hence the name – Tour of the Cornfields) the course takes you through pretty villages and deep into the field system that makes up the Cambridgeshire countryside. Usually completed in dry and dusty conditions, this year there was a sprinkling a wet (for some of us) and somewhat more for others. Having said that, the ground remained hard as nails throughout with the only sketchy bits being long, slow, drifty corners on a bed of gravel and dust.

As you would expect, a large percentage of riders were roadies and were sporting their highly expensive cross bikes. Others were on budget machines and there were others on mountain bikes. The roll out was headed up by Peter Harper who attacked from the off and was soon some way ahead of the other riders. If only there had been cameras, Timber would have have plenty of coverage as Pete did a creditable impersonation of Jeremy Roy.  I was riding the Swift and as soon as a (mini) peloton formed, I knew I had to hook up or get shelled out. A surprisingly small amount of effort and I was in the bunch, keeping pace with the fast boys. It was here, I think, that I lost Pete, Kurt and Richard. As I was sitting there enjoying the view, many riders were expressing surprise that I could keep up with them on a mountain bike and secondly, admiring the frame. Talk of the relative merits of 29ers over 26 inch wheels were lost on them so I sat in behind a lady rider until she lost the wheel in front. I overtook and tried to draft her back in to no avail. Back in touch with the group I noted that a breakaway had formed but no one was keen to chase it down. Shortly afterwards, we hit the first prolonged off road section and a couple of climbs. Nothing horrendous, they did split the group up and, caught at the wrong end of the pack as we went in, I saw the leaders disappearing and I was powerless to do anything. I doubt whether I could have held on for long but it would have helped my overall time if I had. The pattern of the ride developed quite quickly after this and I settled down to the routine of reeling in and passing cx bikes on the rough stuff, and being dropped on the road. Eventually, fast riders from later groups came through but I passed and dropped guys who had gone off too hard, too early.

At the feed station I was one of the first 10 or so riders through. I decided to grab a banana, a Clif bar, refill my water bottles and then I was off, after a stop of a minute or two. The second half of the ride was a bit tougher with some sections bringing me to an almost complete halt. The advantage of fat tyres was demonstrated on one climb when I made up almost half a mile on a guy on a CX bike who had passed me earlier. I was spinning up the climb quite merrily and he was struggling as the bike seemed to fight his efforts to ride up the pockmarked track. Some time about now, it rained. A brief stop to don my rain cape and I continued, fighting against the water and the rising wind up a long, exposed road section. Head down, brain off I would have missed the turning had my gps not beeped at me. A little later it stopped raining and by now, I only saw the odd rider but I happened upon a Newmarket CC guy towards the end. He hadn’t been in my group, he hadn’t overtaken me so I slowed to chat for a minute or so. He thought he had gone wrong, missing some tough bits, and when I saw him at the finish he had come up 6 miles short. Two super quick guys blatted by me, a few minutes later, the stronger rider really putting the hammer down, his companion barely hanging on. Half a mile later, I passed the quicker of the two who had a puncture.

About this time, I had pushed through a difficult patch (maybe 15 minutes of feeling sluggish) and had sprung to life once more. Prepared to settle down into the long grind to the end I suddenly found myself in a quiet suburban road and swinging round the corner I was home. Ride over…

I was among the first 20 riders home so I grabbed a cup of tea and wandered off to the car, got changed, packed everything away and returned to HQ to wait. A second drink and I noticed the rain had returned, in spades. It was chucking it down and I was glad to have put the initial effort in and had got home in plenty of time. Pete rolled up maybe 30 minutes after me, soaked to the skin but irrepressibly cheerful, as normal. He had flatted twice I think and reported that Kurt and Richard were having problems some way back. Anyway, Pete went home and I continued to wait. Richard, doing a good impression of a drowned rat, showed up over an hour after I had finished. They had indeed had trouble, terrible trouble, but that is another story and will be one I can capitalise on in future. 🙂 Still, he was happy enough and to assuage my guilt (at having left them so early on) I bought him a coffee and a sandwich. We packed up and headed home through continuing rain, tired, hungry but happy with a good day of riding.

My gps showed my riding time to have been 3 hours 54 minutes at an average of 14.6 mph which wasn’t too bad. They were taking times but nothing has been posted yet so I have no idea how my ride compared to others – several of whom I am sure were simply taking it easy.

An excellent event, a bit of a tester for your legs.

Music – a compendium of tunes too many and varied to even try and list including such rock classics as Nellie the Elephant and the Magic Roundabout theme!

Recommended

Times have been posted.

I came in equal 30th out of 206 entrants with an official time of 3.57 though there were a few DNS. There seemed to be a fairly tight cluster of riders in the 3 hours fifty something. Pete came in with 4.21 and Richard 4.28. I am under no illusions that left to his own devices, I would not have seen Richard after the start and I am equally confident that a good bunch of riders were simply riding to test their equipment, check their legs for forthcoming events etc. Having said that, given that I was on a mountain bike and that it was not a race, I put this down as a good result.

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A CX Sportive in September along the lanes of Cambridgeshire. I had to duck out last time owing to injury and much regretted it. Entries are open again and if you are interested get yourself entered now!