Riding the Wiggle CX Century
I’ve written a couple of articles previously about getting ready for the Wiggle CX Century, one on the type of training needed and another on the delight that is choosing your kit, so I won’t go through all that again.
My main worry in the week leading up to the CX Century was the weather. May and June are generally dry on the Downs, but as we get into July the rains can come. Rain and chalk do not make a good mix and it’s not a Southern Softy thing either! Chalk when wet is beyond slippery and in the winter months I will steer well clear of it. It can make climbing nigh on impossible and descending a terror. On only one of my previous attempts had it rained, so I had high hopes. In the end we had fine weather, but to show how lucky we were, the following day was a full on soaker, raining almost all day, the weather gods had been kind.
The adventure started the day before with our group of five and our hotel. I decided to leave work early, arrive at Winchester in time to have a pub dinner on the way to the hotel and an early night. The rest of the party went with the ‘let’s leave it to the last-minute and arrive after 10 o’clock!’ plan.
Phone calls and texts were passed, nobody had thought to check the route to the hotel, or bring lights! The fact that the hotel was on a motorway service station and only accessible to bikes by riding up an unpaved road and leaping over a fence, hadn’t made them change their plans. But what would a ‘cross ride be without some adventure? Suffice to say they finally made it and after stocking up with garage food we were all tucked in and ready for our early start,
The ride through the lanes around Winchester to the start was a delight and we even managed not to get lost. The start area was in a large park and ride car park and there was plenty of activity as we arrived. After registering we picked up holdalls which we could dump our spare kit in and have it delivered to the 100k check point and the finish. That way if you wanted to bail early you could still get your kit.
As usual at any cycling event, a large amount of time was spent looking at other people’s bikes! I would say over 90% of the bikes were cyclo-cross machines. Every type, in all materials and of all ages. I even saw a touring bike with standard side pull calipers! Tyres were on the portly side, there’s no UCI scrutineer here although the organisers had stipulated a 40mm limit. I had gone with a pair of Schwalbe Smart Sams, which I was running tubeless. The clearance was tight, but I saw tighter!
After a brief safety talk the large bunch – around 150 riders for this first running – set off and it wasn’t long before the front riders had upped the pace. I had decided no to get caught up in the early madness and was going to pace myself. So I was happily following the wheel in front down a single track lane when all my plans went out the window.
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