Race report – LCXL Round 7

On Sunday, I raced in round 7 of the Leicestershire Cyclocross League at Mallory Park, hosted by Race Rapid Mallory. This was one of the more local rounds to me, which was nice, and the first time I had raced cyclocross at Mallory Park (known more for it’s circuit/road races but I did a mountain bike race there a few years ago).

I watched my friends in the under 12s race and then did a couple of laps of the course to see what it was like. The course was good with some off-camber sections, some short steep hills and a few sections of tarmac/gravel. My bike was cleaned and I got ready for my race during the youth race. Due to the lack of time between the youth race and my race (and because it was really cold/grim), I decided to warm up by riding up and down the hill to the car park rather than riding this course. This was also good because it meant my bike didn’t need cleaning again.

Then, it was race time. I got a good start up the hill but drifted backwards a bit around the corners. It was then into the woods, which was quite narrow, and we were beginning to catch the back of the men’s race that started about a minute before us. I overtook a couple of riders through the next section, which was quite muddy so a bit of a drag. I decided to change my bike after just a lap because, despite doing the warm up on it, I wasn’t happy with the tyre pressure. During the change, two riders got back in front of me, but I soon caught them and stayed with them for a while.

At this point, my shoe was beginning to come loose, so I tried to tighten it whilst riding on the straights, which didn’t really help. About halfway through the race, I didn’t quite make it up one of the steep climbs so got off and ran up. Before remounting, I checked my shoe and saw that the plastic lace had snapped, so there was no way it could be tightened. I got back on and carried on riding. I shouted to my dad in the pits that my shoe had broken (not that he could do anything about it). I didn’t swap bikes again because I was sure my shoe would fall off. The next time I passed the pits, my dad said I was catching the rider in front (although at this point, I couldn’t see her). I put in a big effort and got very close. With a lap and a half to go, as I caught one of the men, I stayed behind them because an off-camber corner was coming up and I didn’t think I’d make it round him in time. As this affected my line around the corner, I didn’t quite make it up the climb after the corner and unclipped and put my foot down. As my sock made contact with the ground, I realised that my shoe was still clipped into the pedal.

Going into the corner (📸: Mick Bown)

Because I got back on the bike so quickly (without thinking), I didn’t put the shoe back on. Instead, I chose to ride with my foot on top of the shoe. I tried to put my shoe back on in a triathlon style but the surface made this hard so I didn’t bother and just kept pedalling. I also knew there was one more section that I would definitely need to put my foot down for, so thought that I might as well get through that section first.

The shoe was still attached to the pedal (📸: Mick Bown)
A very well placed photographer captured my race perfectly (📸: Mick Bown)

However, the lack of ability to pull up on the pedal meant I couldn’t make it up one of the easier climbs so I got off, ran and then put my shoe back on. I remounted carefully to ensure it didn’t fall off again and managed to ride everything in the last lap, so it didn’t fall off again.

When I finished, I walked back to the pits to clean my bike, but took my shoe off because it wouldn’t stay on – I got some funny looks handing my timing chip in and walking back to the car with one shoe on and the other in my hand.

Overall, I was happy with my performance (I came 3rd 🥉), and a bit annoyed about my shoe (although I think it’s great that it first fell off right in front of a photographer). On inspection (after cleaning), the plastic lace had snapped and a replacement lace/dial system has been ordered.

Another funny thing about the incident with the shoe is that I was reading Helen Wyman’s book over Christmas and there was a quote about having a spare pair of shoes in the pits. Lesson learnt ✅