It was the moment I’ve been waiting for, warm front meets cold front followed by flakes floating to the earth creating a fresh powdery path to lay some virgin tracks on. Nothing to do with ski’s but rather half road bike, half off-road bike – CycloCross is a crazy concept, but half a million Belgians can’t be wrong, and if it’s half as good as their beer, well it’s worth a go.
For the uninitiated, you get a road-looking bike with some knobbly tyres and lots of mud clearance around the wheels. Unlike a mountain bike which rides over most obstacles, the cross bike requires dismounting, lifting the bike over the obstacle and then remounting the bike in one fluid movement.
With fresh snow in Richmond Park, I layered up, then layered up some more, going from a size 8 to a size 10 in a short space of time. Hitting the paths was great fun, letting the bike snake underneath me as it hit a squelchy part of the snow, or gripping a bare patch of path. Great fun and apart from a few butt clenching moments, I stayed upright, evening pre-empting unclipping one leg, Belgium style, to keep the bike upright on a slippery slope.
Then came the dismount, off in one, hang on two awkward steps, lift bike – too late – clunk clunk over the log, remount. This is where the bike got really cross, rather than landing on the saddle, I wrapped my leg around the seat post, promptly sat on the knobbly rear-tyre and ended up in a pile on top of the bike. Jeez it was angry.
For the next half hour it wouldn’t allow me to mount it, as I attempted the remount it rushed away from me, doing everything in it’s power to keep me out the saddle, like a unbroken horse. I tried from the left side, then the right, nothing doing. So I walked it for a bit, let it calm down then holding the brakes very firmly, I swung my leg over the saddle, pushed my cleat hard into the pedal and then tentatively shifted my weight over the bike as I pedalled away.
What followed was a fast and furious ride back in the fresh snow, whooping like an excited child, guessing that one day I’ll get the remount figured out, but while there’s fresh powder to pedal in, “make fun while the snow lasts”.
Peta rides a Blue NorCross EX bike provided by Multisport Distribution