Curse of the Cross?

By Helen and Lydia.

It has been mentioned on our blog that our Cyclocross team may be cursed (Jo and Jeremy’s injuries are covered in previous posts). Nevertheless Lydia and I both decided that we would like to give this crazy sport a go. We have around 1 hour’s experience of off-road riding each, but Jo has told us over and over what a great crack it is and how it doesn’t hurt if you fall off (the Elves of Irony heard you say it). We were keen.

Huge thanks to Nik, who was organising a huge bike polo tournament, for loaning us her bikes, and to the mysterious   for supplying them in the first place.

The Van Dessels

Having never ridden a cross bike before, I was anxious when I picked up the Gin and Trombones from Look Mum No Hands. I was prepared for it to feel different to my road bike and to wobble all over the road as I ungracefully came to terms with the changed center of gravity.

G&T from a bearded man, who could refuse? Photo from

Wow, was I wrong!

The G&T felt just like my road bike, only it has fat tyres – possibly an advantage on London’s pot-holed roads. Before we had reached Old Street round-a-bout I knew I was smitten. I don’t often arrive home after riding through central London with a smile on my face but the G&T made it a pleasurable experience (I am still talking about the bike).

I took it into the park nearby for 10 mins before the sun set to try out riding on grass, gravel and dried mud. I was in good hands. I guess Nik had trained it well. Now I was looking forward to trying the cross race, whatever that might be.

Eastern League round 6 – Essex girls get cross, not angry

Although I got there and hour before the race, I almost didn’t get a ride. The race was hugely popular but the Amis Velo organisers somehow very kindly squeezed me in the women’s race although I had a youth race number.

1 1 Sean Dunlea Youth. PCA Ciclos Uno 5 laps in 35:37
2 28 Joe Fry Youth. Welwyn Whls CC +1:08
3 22 Cameron Woolsey Youth. CC Ashwell +2:12
– 193 Helen McKay Yth/U14 Look Mum No Hands DNF

(Start as a youth, and finish as a woman – that’s cyclocross for you!)

I got off to a good start, the race mist descended, but as the clip below shows we managed to go the wrong way and had to chase to get back onto the race. I went from 5th to 17th in 0.85 seconds. Was this the curse?

Video of start (women’s race 0min50-1min20)

No, this was no curse. If I had been woman enough I would have got back on quicker. Hitches like this didn’t hinder Nikki Juniper (race winner), Emma Johnson or Elizabeth Chittenden & co. too much, they just dug deep and powered on – testament to their great ability.

(Video of the women’s race)

I had fun that day. I let go of my cares, let go of the brakes and hurtled through the fallen leaves. If you don’t have technical ability then I’d recommend having friends in heaven before you do cross. I should have come off umpteen times, yet on a wing and a yelp regained skids, slid past tree trunks and stayed upright. Good job the bike knew what it was doing!

 (Actually I did visit the nettles once but no one saw so that is our secret, right?)


 Cyclocross is madness, but brilliant. (Maybe next time I’ll try with my eyes open.)

 To the man who admired the G&T, yes this is one of the bikes featured in Cross Crazy, and yes I’d recommend it. The G&T is now on my fantasy bikes-to-buy list.

The curse prefers people whose name begins with J.

 London League round 6 – Deal or No Deal, Ms Boylan?


I had a lot of fun pretending to be a ‘cross racer today!! The bikes are amazing! Thank you Bearded Man! 🙂

The highlights of today were Toby realising he left his shoes at home and us mixing up our numbers only to realise on the start line (Toby somehow managed to race in flat pedals and trainers!). Trying to undo safety pins in a panic is an extremely dangerous activity!!!

Good job the bike is light! Thanks Cross Crazy for the photos.

Then some man blew a whistle and we were off. It was terrifying but I somehow managed to get in front (of the 6 or 7 women) and stay there. Monica was never too far behind me so it was fun to be in the midst of a race, all I expected was to ride around quietly on my own. But I should have known my competitiveness would take over. The course was very technical, lots of running and climbing with the bike, steep downhills…..

What goes up, must come down!

…..but some nice flat fast sections were at least I could use the one skill I have…pedalling fast!

I didn’t injure myself and I finished. That’s a successful day on a cross bike in my book!! And it was sunny!! Thanks to VC Deal for putting on the race.


Although she doesn’t mention it, Lydia won her race!

1 Lydia Boylan Look Mum No Hands
2 Monica Lichtner VC  Londres
3 Astrid Wingler London Phoenix

Lydia wins her 2nd cross race!

Last, but certainly not least there was another LMNH rider getting cross at the weekend:

Mr Mum, Matt, reprezentin' the cross team

He may not be one to shout about it, but Matt came a distinguished 19th in the Senior men’s race. Allez Matt!

Play spot the LMNH riders in this video and win a bag of fairy dust (but not really):


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