Luca, age 11:

Cyclocross is a great sport. Who would think that an 11 year old could go from starting a cx race on a borrowed bike in Grange Castle and falling in love with the sport to becoming a Leinster champion and then coming 3rd in the nationals in the same year? (Not many people.)

With a lot of help from the club this is how the journey happened:

September: In early September my Dad asked me did I want to go to a cyclocross training night in Dodder Park. I said yes immediately. The training was great fun with Lorna bringing plastic hurdles. That weekend there was a cx race in Grange Castle. I had watched a couple of cx races before so I knew that a quick start would be instrumental in where I would finish. I loved the Grange Castle course because it suited my strengths and not my weaknesses. Later that month I got my first cx bike. A sky blue Planet X bike, I love it. That month was my first cx race in Dodder Park on my new bike. Once again there was a fast start, I was last going into the first corner. But I kept going and worked my way up to 3rd place and that was where I finished.

October: Later that month was Kilruddery. As some of the more tougher riders might call this the first race of the year. This was more like a race you might see on television with lots of mud. The opening section was an off camber muddy section for about 200 meters. Then it was through a forest and back to the start.

About midway through October I got my first cyclocross win. The race was held in the Gap, lucky for me Orwell held a training day with Andy and Beth the day before. We had practiced going an off-camber u-bend, that was where I won the race. I stuck on the high line while the guy behind me went low. After that I attacked hard and got a gap that the other guy couldn’t chase down and held on for victory.

Luca with his first CX win!

The last weekend of the month there was a race in Navan. I decided to race under 14 because I was told that the under 12 course was very easy and wouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to complete. The under 14 course was very difficult for me with lots of technical areas, the start so fast! I was already in the pain cave just after the start. I crashed TWICE in the same place, it was a steep decent nicknamed ‘The Wall’. My tires lost grip and before I knew it I was on the ground. I crossed the line battered and bruised over three minutes down on the winner.

December: On the 9th of December was a day I’ll never forget, The Leinster Championships. That morning I woke up with a buzz knowing that I would be racing the Leinster Championships. The course was magnificent; it was fast, not a lot of corners and little wind. When the race came I was so excited. I got a great start and accelerated hard. Nobody could keep up with me and so I kept going and won! Leinster Champion - stepping on the podium I felt really really good.

Game Face on for the Leinster Championships

January: The last cx race of the season was the nationals. The build up was incredible, personally I think that nationals help spur you on and train that little bit harder which can be the difference between you coming first or second. The weekend before the nationals, Orwell hosted an overnight training camp. The camp created a really strong bond between the team. As well bonding more the camp was also great training with steep gravel ascents and descents.

The next weekend was the Nationals. My dad and I made the journey to Fota where the race was being held. We stayed in a hotel overnight on the Friday and went to bed early ahead of the race. The day of the race I woke up early looking forward to the race. The course was great. There was even a bridge made for the race, sadly we were not allowed to race on the bridge for safety reasons :( The race was very fast from the start with a quick start crucial for where you finished. The race was very close with 1st,2nd, 3rd (where I came) and 4th within 30 seconds of one other.

 

Àine, age 11:

This year I started cyclocross racing for fun. I started of doing a few races and realised how much fun it was. My first race was tough but I wanted to try it again and I fell in love with it. As I started to do more races I started to get better. My best race was Grange Castle. It was the first race I won and the course was amazing like many of the races especially the nationals.

I love when it’s muddy but not too muddy although the mud is fun to ride through and messy. I love when the course is wet and you can hear it in the grass you ride over. The sand is especially amazing it’s like mud but a different texture, it’s tough to ride through and you feel like someone us pulling you backwards. The Christmas break is tough in between when you don’t touch the bike for weeks and then you have to do the nationals but I was especially lucky with the fact that we had the mountain biking and cyclocross camp to get me back on the bike and riding tough.

I was lucky early in the season get a cyclocross bike that fit me rather then my old road bike with cyclocross tires that I had grown out of or my mountain bike. I love my bike and I think it makes a huge difference. During the season I met loads of people and had a great time. At the nationals it was a brilliant race with a brilliant course and the bridge was amazing. Although I came fourth I really enjoyed the race and had a great time afterwards. I sorry that the season ended so quick but it was a brilliant and fun.

 

Katie, age 13:

The cyclocross season is an extremely enjoyable time.The races are completely different from any other discipline. It's so much fun to explore the different courses that the race organisers put together. Just the atmosphere around the races is brilliant andso much fun.

There is a lot less pressure in cyclocross than road so it becomes a really fun opportunity to ride your bike and get covered in mud. I was lucky enough to get a cross bike early in the season and really changed the feel of races. A dedicated bike does make carrying the bike up muddy hills and flights of stairs easier but really you don"t need a crossbike to enjoy the races - a mountain bike will do fine. My favourite race of the season was the Bioracer Atlassian International Cyclocross up in Belfast. It was an incredible race and I really enjoyed the course - it was really hard but well worth it.

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