Orwell's Barry Dace is making a welcome return to racing, competing in the Fixx Coffeehouse Supercross Series this year. In Tymon Park last week he reaped his reward, coming home in third place in the B race, pipped to second by only a single second!

He graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to write a few words for us, and it's a great read!

The CX has been a complete revelation for me. This is the first time I've ever competed in the discipline, and I have to say that I'm absolutely enjoying every minute of it!

I used to compete week in and week out 15-20 years ago on the road, and although I've dabbled a bit with a return to road racing, I never seem to have enough time to train effectively to get satisfaction out of it, or to the level I used to be at. So I took a bit of a notion to just give the cyclocross a bit of a try, and didn't take it terribly seriously. I'd always enjoyed watching it, and a few of us from Orwell went over to watch a world cup cyclocross race in November last year - I think that's when the bug finally got me.

The nice thing about it I suppose is that it's only an hour (although it's full gas for that whole hour!) and it's terribly social in comparison with road racing. Having said all of that, I find that I'm now getting my competitive streak back again, and find myself sneakily looking over the league tables and the lap times for all the guys each week!

It's been tremendously fun to have to learn an entirely new discipline, and all the new skills that come with the sport - I'd never realised cross racing had so many little tricks and techniques to pick up. I find that each week I seem to learn something new about how to handle the obstacles, the terrain, or the bike itself. The bikes are fantastically robust and light nowadays, and incredibly confidence inspiring when you really think you should be hanging out of the nearest hedge after a speedy descent on mud! Although there's always plenty of technical sections in the courses to bring you back to earth with a bump - I managed to hit the deck three times in two laps in the Swords race a couple of weeks ago!

So far, I've managed to take in a race each weekend, between up north and closer to home. I have to say that the guys who organise, design, and mark out the courses each weekend are extremely selfless and dedicated individuals who really deserve much more recognition - they are there every week from early hours, setting up for us to bluff our way around the course for one solitary hour.

The season for cross is so short of course, so I've tried to get a race lined up each week until mid December between the Fixx Supercross League here, and the Ulster Cyclocross league further north. It's a great spectacle to see, and in fact in the northern races, there's a full day of racing with kids as young as eight even getting a race in the morning!

As for last Sunday's race in Tymon Park, it was a great course, less technical than some I think, but enough sections through a sketchy forest track to keep the attention. From early on it seemed to condense into a group of around six riders who were all in with a shout. Cathal Doyle (the eventual winner) has been really flying in recent weeks and looked very strong from about the second lap onwards. From the moment he got a decent gap, it became clear that we were going to have our work cut out to bring him back.

But with cross racing, anything can (and seems to) happen. Even on the last technical section of the last lap, one of the guys fighting for second with us managed to disappear over the bars down a gully. Of course, as much as we all felt sorry for his plight, we were secretly delighted! This week it was his turn, last week was my turn after crashing three times and then puncturing while third at the time... So the eventual outcome was a very close third - pipped at the post in the gallop for second.

I have to say, it's like being back to being a junior all over again - it takes time to learn how to race these short burst high end efforts again. Its like learning to ride a 25TT all over again. I still remember how long it took to get that figured out before the times started tumbling.

The plan now is simply to enjoy the rest of this year's leagues, and it would be nice to come close to a win sometime. The League seems to be going well, and I think between collecting good points in Clondalkin and Tymon, I'm probably up at the sharp end of that somewhere now. I'd love to get a good grounding in it this year, and maybe try to get enough fitness, and skills and technique to be consistently finishing high up in the A races next year. I'm riding the A races in the Ulster cyclocross league, and competition is very tight there. So, maybe next year I'll have more in the tank - but there are a lot of very strong riders with superb experience and technique. I suppose everyone has to start somewhere!

It would be great to see more Orwell guys at the cross racing. We seem to have about four of us turning up religiously each week, and I'm sure if people gave it a go they'd be hooked right away. If they ever do want to hook up for the races or a few miles, I'm happy to help if I can!

If you want to take Barry up on his offer of assistance, get in touch with the club and we'll pass along his details. The next race in the Fixx Coffeehouse Supercross Series will be November 11th, venue is still unknown - keep an eye on their Facebook page for info.

Congratulations to Barry on the placing, and expect to see more of the same in the near future!

Fixx Coffeehouse Supercross Series Round 3, Tymon Park

A Race

1. Robin Seymour - 1:03:01
2. Ray O'Shaughnessy - 1:04:26
3. Sean O'Tuathail - 1:05:53

B Race

1. Cathal Doyle - 45'48"
2. David O'Connor - 47'05"
3. Barry Dace - 47'06"