Round one of the Munster CX League, Ireland
Another Ambush at Crossbarry
Confusing enough that the opening round of the Munster CX league in Ireland was called Crossbarrs, located near Crossbarry and hosted by St. Finbarrs CC, but that it was won by Richard Barry who ambushed race favourite Richard Maes, and the whole field, means I must name him first. Anything else would leave us discombobulated
‘St. Finbarrs’ Richard won the St. Finbarrs Crossbarrs cross race near Crossbarry.
“Amn’t I after tellin’ ya? …. Barry!”
“Hang on, who’s Barry?”
Let’s get back to the field. The Atlantic’s ‘Storm Lorenzo’ brushed past Ireland two days before the race, and while its wind did not blow as hard as foretold, the rain that followed left us in no doubt that something was in the air. Sheets of rain bounced off the garage windows as I prepped my bike on Saturday, while torrents of run-off water washed down the saturated field onto the motocross course our laps would share. The organisers were worried, ‘would the event even go ahead?’ Met Eireann suggested it could, so on Sunday we all turned up for a race in a field only a drowning man would call land.
My ‘OldVelos’ 1981 Alan Super Cross hadn’t seen the light of day since last year’s national champs, so as I checked cables, chain and tyres I had made a mental note about mud-plugging gears. I had already made a bold change to my trusty antique by fitting STI levers. A difference they do make, cute and all as bar-end levers may be. Good too, as this was a course that would require many gear changes.
The drenched field was not the only challenge of the course. After interminable switchbacks, which allowed spectators witness the sticky progress, the ground eventually hardened, and a lip brought us on a nosedive to a track more used to motorised bicycles. Our acoustic versions couldn’t quite enjoy the higher burms on offer, but with a little effort and extreme concentration the course allowed riders make decisions on which rut to follow. This was without doubt the fastest part of the course and gave enough hard ground and pools to disperse some of the brake and bottom bracket encrusted mud. The freed wheels induced even more whizz in some, no more so than another Richard, Cleverly, who treated his many fans and event photographers to table top bunny hops.
Those airborne wheels would soon find themselves levitating again as riders returned to the quagmire. The jump-offs were coming earlier and earlier as the ground got chewed up, better to shoulder the bike in motion than to come to a sudden soggy halt. Good runners profited from fitness and studded shoes and in this field there are few to match the men, women’s and junior winners Richard Barry, Blarney CC’s Fiona Meade and Fionn Desmond. Richard was easy to distinguish in his distinctive helmet, Fiona’s outfit was more subtle, like the former Irish champion bands on her sleeves, Fionn emblazoned MBCC. All could be found 2 minutes ahead of their field.
There was no matching these riders today, so our eyes were drawn to second places and other age category match-ups. Trevor Woods excelled himself in 2nd, profiting from a long triathlon season. He would also take the M50 title, ahead of Midleton’s AJ Murphy, National Hill Climb Champion. Nessa Rochford, of the colourful De Ronde van Cork CC, took second in the ladies, Dave McCarthy in the pink of the new Pi Cycles-Verge outfit. Third place in the seniors and ladies was shared by Strata3 riders Aggie Wozniak and a coughing, spluttering, Richard Maes. Their teammate Patrick Clifford took 4th, and along with it the M40 jersey.
In the B-race, where I had been embedded, a convincing display and first B-league jersey for race sponsor McCarthy Cycles’ Luis Mota. This league and novel jersey will be worth watching as novice CX riders ride themselves into the A race. There they must prepare for even more mud-slinging and surely another ambush, possibly as soon as round 2 in Clonmel in a fortnight.