It’s always been a fascination of mine.
Maybe it comes from cross-country running days at school. I was always close to the lead guys, but always found myself wishing I could throw a bike over my shoulder and sneakily gain some time by riding my bike. See; cheating.
Maybe it comes from seeing photos of uber-nerdy Europeans shouldering what looked to me like road bikes up snowy steps with mud flecked eyeballs during my mid-nineties fascination with cycling magazines. See; printed glossy publications, pre ‘blog’.
Maybe it comes from my desire to regularly and systematically turn myself inside out for shits-and-giggles. See; stupidity.
I had resigned to the fact that we’d probably never see Cyclocross racing here in Melbourne.
Then came Dirty Deeds.
I didn’t race last year. Didn’t get my shit together.
This year, with the help of a garage full of bits, a Surly Cross-Check frame and Lincoln at Bike Gallery, I got my shit together.
We finished the build on Friday, just in-time for one quick ride on Saturday. My shifters had not come into stock yet, so I had to lockout the rear derailleur on one gear. I chose 34/15.
I rocked up at Darebin Parklands to find a pantomime of hipsters, roadies, mountain-bikers, vegans, MAMILS, families, dogs and the like. The atmosphere was friendly, supportive and colourful.
After a couple of practice laps I realised that going ghetto single-speed was not a bad idea. The course was pretty flat, bar a couple of pinches to dance over. Also, it was damn muddy and racing hadn’t even started.
I warmed up nervously in the comfort of the Cyclops tent until race start.
The race format was 40 minutes, plus one lap. Each lap was about 4-5 minutes long. And a mix of pavement, grass, dirt, mud, four dismount-barriers and a little singletrack.
The A-grade field was big, about 50 riders. I knew that positioning was going to be important, but sat second row because I had no idea how things would pan out.
The start of the race was a bit of a dog fight and I was in about 20th going into the first corner.
By the end of lap one I was already muddy and coughing up lung-parts, but had ridden into 8th.
I was battling with two other riders and had made a mid-race surge into 7th when I pinch-flatted in a muddy ditch. I shouldered by bike back to the start-finish area and asked a spectator for his front wheel. He gave me his road wheel with a semi-slick 28mm commuter tyre. Very slidey compared to my compared to my 35mm Cyclocross knobby!
The commissaire popped me back in the race after one lap out and I slid, ran and mashed myself back into 8th by the time the bell rang.
First moustache, first singlespeed and first steel bike, to my knowledge. I’m calling that a win!
The mud-thirsty drunk crowd and the atmosphere at Dirtydeeds made it perhaps the most fun race have ever had the stupidity to enter. No need to get a cross bike (though I suggest you do!) as you can always race the open category where any bike is allowed.
Now, time to get one of those proper cross-bikes for round two. I’m thinking C35 carbon tubs, Ultegra Di2 wrapped around one of these frames....
Thanks to all the photographers for supplying the awesome shots!