My first Cyclocross race 

Wessex Cyclocross League Round 1 Oxford Academy. 

Being my first cycle race ever, I went with an open mind on what to expect. Having been to a few events and watched I sort of knew what I was in for, but not quite.. 
After doing a track walk and practice laps it dawned on me that this was going to be a tough one, with various league regulars telling me ‘this is the toughest circuit in the league’ it filled me with plenty of confidence.. NOT! 
Watching the Vets / Juniors / Women races, I started to get a few tips on the dodgy parts of the circuit and where to be on the hills and technical sections through the wooded area. 
So my race came around pretty quickly, and after a couple more practice laps, we made our way to the line. We were called out in the order of our final positions from last year series. Obviously, being new to the sport there was a group of newbies at the back and that included me. 
The whistle went for the start of the race, and I managed to get clipped in and away in pretty good time. I was heading for the first turn which I can only describe as a stampede of 50 odd bikes! 
On the first lap, I gained a few places on the technical sections, managing to stay on the bike as others carried their bikes on the first ascent due to a backlog. This happened again on the second technical section in the course. I found myself in a group of three riders with around 6 or 7 bike lengths between us. I found my pace and stuck to it throughout the race, reeling in the two in front of me, passing another three laps from the end, and another on the second to final lap in the open field leading to the finish. 
Overall, a really good first race in cyclocross finishing 35th out of 57th (Provisional), beating a few league regulars which I’m chuffed about! I’m looking forward to the next one in the Wessex League (unfortunately I can’t make the next two rounds due to work and a holiday but that gives me time to work on a few improvements). 

Thanks to Sarum Velo for the support & Hills Cycles And Fishing tackle for the bike and keeping it all together and support! 

Alex watkins 

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