I get 'cross

My journal of cyclocross
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I quite like it when I sweat. It shows that I'm either benefiting myself or really trying my best-est.
I am riding a race in South Africa next year and it will be about 35 degrees while I'm racing in the midday heat. I was thinking about trying some activities that would help me acclimatise. I've been gathering suggestions, from riding my turbo in the bathroom with the radiator all doors/windows shut, book some sauna time, to trying yoga in a 40 degree room.

Bikram Yoga is where I thought I'd start and then build up to actual really intense activity in the heat.
I signed up to a studio offering Bikram Yoga - called Hot Bikram Yoga, their studios are local to me in Balham and Clapham or I could go on the way home to their London Bridge studio.
I've never done yoga properly and generally cyclists are pretty inflexible as we just sit on the bike and performa a cyclical closed skill. Luckily, the yoga studio runs an intro offer and is focused on beginners as Bikram is quite unique .

Bikram Yoga, is a set of 26 postures you complete over a 90minute class.
A teacher leads the class in a room heated to 40 degree heat.
This style of yoga is less flowing, you try to hold each posture improving core strength. It was invented by Yogi Guru, Bikram Choudhury (pictured).
There are several studio's offering Bikram Yoga. I chose 'Hot Bikram Yoga' who run an offer. Go as much as you like for 20 consecutive days for £35.

My experience
It was SO hot.
I had to sit out some of the postures as I was rather hot
In later classes you become used to it and can complete them all
Sitting out is ok, everyone has to take time out
My core stability is seriously lacking - I couldn't hold even a basic form of a posture for the 30 seconds required.
You start sweating as soon as you walk into the room
You are drenched by half way through
Anyone can do it, but practise makes perfect.
It helps you clear everything your head is buzzing with. 
Your hamstrings will hurt afterwards
Take a spare towel to wipe your hands and face plus a towel for your mat
Yoga mats are provided
Wear minimal clothing, shorts/vest.
Take a bottle of water - duh!

I completed 2 classes a week for 3 weeks. My reach got better, balance and core stability improved. I lost water weight, not sure if it affected my general weight. It made me focus on drinking water as much as I could during the day and afterwards. It meant I cut back on one of my turbo's a week so you'd think my cycling would be affected....
I feel better for attending and I had a great result in Bradford and the Regional Champs. Not sure if they are related?

Random Stuff
Bikram's says his yoga can really improve ones physical self. Improve digestion, bone density apparently approved by NASA. All these rather random claims made by Bikram have been soaked up by Indian and Eastern yogi follows and in the West, celebrities taking up the style of Yoga has made it very popular.
What I can say is, I can feel my heart beating, I feel my limbs stretching and I've identified my right leg / right side of my core is weaker than the left. Its a workout, and its good prep for handling 40 degree heat in SA. That other stuff I'm taking with a pinch of salt!

I'm going to continue to go through the Christmas period.
It is hard work
I'd recommend it.
Photo Credit: Gem Atkinson

If I called you names, it was only to give you some fire in your belly to race with.
Photo Credit: Andy Whitehouse
Photo Credit: Aussie Larry - Velo UK

Bradford National Trophy where its skill + fitness = result. 
Was just a little off the pace to begin with, didn't get my foot in at the start so lost a bike length to the other contenders. I played it safe for 2 laps, the course had changed so much since I rode it in the practise session. Truly muddy and cut up, all the lines I has picked out in the practise were now just as slippy and risky as the rest of it all. I was perhaps too cautious. My skill was good to me though and I found myself pulling ahead through the turns when I was riding in the early part of the race for 6th against Alice Barnes and Beth Crumpton.
My skills have come on alot since playing about in the parks with Andy and Ben. I've learnt to place more weight on the outside leg, just because you can hear the grass ripping under you tyre doesn't mean brake, it means you're still gripping. 

Before the start I was reminded by Vet Dougie Fox from Crawley Wheelers who said, "look ahead, look at the exit'. It is basic fundamental advice. He used to ride motorcross and its something he was taught there. "don't look at the tree as you'll hit it." I actually know about this piece of sage advice, but in amongst worrying about having a good start, not falling off, the big descent, the cold and the mud. You need to be reminded of the basics. Focus on those basics and everything else will follow.

So in the end, I was 6th. Happy with the result. Rode the descent every time. In my head I set the target to attack the running sections and get on my bike and pedalling asap. This is where I was going to keep a lead on someone because the mud is just mud and you needed to be careful otherwise you'll just fall off and lose more time. I was 2 minutes behind Hannah Payton in 5th. I still need to bring that gap down, I would have preferred it to be 45seconds to 1minute. Delia had a good battle and try for 3rd but just missed it, but racing against Isla Rowntree is pretty tough. 
Delia has however found 3rd in the Trophy overall standings.

My second bike was a disc bike. I pulled to much on the brakes to behind with and realised I was slowly myself down way too much. D'oh! Once I got used to them I was more confident.
Dugasts didn't let me down. I rode a practise lap on my mud clinchers and they nothing, noticeably useless grip on an slight incline.

I doth my amateur cap to the main man. Nick Craig. Who rode an exceptional race to 2nd place. There is a reason why he's multiple National Champ and Olympic rider.

I enjoyed every second of the race, even though it was cold, challenging, exhausting and tough. That is exactly the way I like it.
If you missed Bradford. You missed out.

Photo Credit: A man called Bruce.
The child in the green hat looks so concerned for Jody Crawforth

Youth races start at 11am
Seniors, Womens, Vets, Jnrs is at 1pm
Any bikes allowed.
You don't need to be a member to race. Anyone can have a go.

If your not there. Then you're only cheating yourself

Post by @muddysundays
Photo: Andy Waterman - Bradford National Trophy 2009

A 56 acre urban green space in the area of Bradford, that is Peel Park. Complete with ornamental fountain and children's play area.
But more importantly it has a significant enscarpment that the Victorians built a terrace along the top of with set of steps leading up to said terrace.
Well it makes for a very great epic suffering cross race.
Peel Park is the closest Britain is ever going to come to a proper International level cross race. It is the cross course to which all other courses try to emulate. Other parks whimper at its incredible powers to create a technically challenging course that will wear you down physically.

The steps are tall. The descents are vicious.
The wind on the top of the course is angry
The road climb is heart breaking
The sprint along the terrace is a crowd pleaser
A lady brings her candy floss van
A man brings his burger truck
There is always flithy northern mud that makes you slip and slide

Bradford National Trophy - you are my mountain.
Only 9 sleeps until we meet again.

Cheryl King has a good photo set from last year's race.