Notts and Derby Round 1 - Allestree Park

I entered this on my trusty old CX bike. It's been my winter training bike / commuter for two years. Bit knackered compared to some of the dura ace kitted out, deep section carbon rimmed 17lb machines designed to race in deep mud!! Crazy.

I bust some spokes, bent my wheel, ripped my mech out of the hanger and mangled the chain, after two bends. Geoff Giddings, Matt Barrett and Tom Lowe from Raleigh Avanti Team all made the top 10 though. Well done. Dave Collins won, Tom Last 2nd.

Notts and Derby League Round 2

Round 2 was at Thornbridge Hall near Bakewell. Last yr was won by Dave Fletcher on a mtb. It is a twisty course with a couple of tech decents. I thought I'd have a blast on my mtb. After my first race DNF, I wasn't entitled to a grid. I sneaked into the back of box 1 (of 4). Thought pushing to the front was an obvious way to get put at the back of the 130 strong field! So I was about 40th at the start next to Jeroen Janssen (The Flying Dutchman and top Madison Roadie!). The quality of these races is high for a local race. You get the CX specialists and decent mtbers and roadies all going head to head.

The start was basically a gentle warm up cos there was traffic everywhere. Then as it thinned out I put the 2 inch tyres and discs to good use and began what felt like a 40 minute 4X race. The corners and hard rough ground favoured the mtb, I rode up to 2nd. Just beating Matt Barrett on the line! This was a sign of my form (the strongest ever) before winning at Sherwood on the mtb the following week. I felt bomb proof. Tom Lowe got 6th putting 3 Raleigh Avanti's in the Top 10 again. Tom Last won - the roadie that infamously raised his arms in celebration at winning a Premier Calendar just before crossing the line as Russ Downing dived past him!

Notts and Derby Round 3 - I missed this for mtb duties. Tom Last won again. Geoff and Tom from Raleigh again did a good one.

Notts and Derby Round 4 - Homesfield Valley Park, Nr Chesterfield.

Not as twisty as round 2 so not great for the mtb, but it was still dry and rough and had a 30mph DH with a grass bank and a left at the bottom into some trees. I predicted an accident. Add to that the 70mph gusts and it was to be carnage for sure. The quality in the field was there again with several of the top 20 at the first National Trophy featuring and Nick Craig. He just won the 3 peaks beating the "unbeatable" Fell running an CX legend Rob Jebb who has owned the event on foot and bike for pretty much the last decade. Almost as impressive though is the fact the Nick won this race in 1991 and 2009!!! That is some effort.

Back to the race. It started hard. Blowing a gale. I had a reasonable grid - settled in about 10th. I moved up a little. But was struggling with the pace. The grass climb and open football field section I kept getting dropped. Was using the DH to outbreak the CX bikes and was even taking some air. Gained a place when I saw local CX man and strong rider Rob Parkin lying down with his bike somersalting about 10ft up. Not sure what happened there. Then lap 3 a rider wrapped themselves around "that" tree and was being seen to by first aider for 2 laps. I was back in 8th or 9th. Then as the race went on, and the DH cleared I clawed my way onto the back of the group in front including riders 5th-8th and Matt and Geoff from Raleigh. I was feeling better as the race went on and moved up and went away with Leigh Fearn from Matlock. Each time up the climb I was clinging on for grim death. Then being a roadie wheel sucker and trying to recover. The bell rang and I was in 6th right on his wheel about 15s  ahead of the next group of 5 or 6. Then on the climb last lap, about 1 minute to go Leigh started to turn the screw and I was dying just to hang on. The wind blew as Leigh glanced back and he caught his brake in the tape, and flipped over the bars in a way reminiscent of Armstrong and that spectators hat. I clattered his bike and ran into him. Managed to stay up, and made it to the finish in 5th just ahead of Matt Barrett who was having a late surge. Geoff stayed in the top 10 again representing Raleigh Avanti. The top 3 were Dave Collins, Tom Last and Nick Craig.

The weather looks like it's changed now so maybe my new found enthusiasm for CX will die, and I got to sort my CX bike. BUT at the moment I cannot speak highly enough of the events. Great atmosphere, all standards, only last an hour, local and fun. See for details.

It's National2  in Derby this week.  I'm not racing. MTB's not allowed. Geoff snapped his chain at round 1 in Devon ruining his chance of defending his vets title so lets hope he cna just take as many wins as possible now.