Friday, 9 April 2010

British XC Series Round 1 Sherwood Pines

Sherwood Pines kick started the 2010 British Mountain Bike Series into action on the 27th and 28th of March. The venue was a hive of activity all weekend with the launch of the new demo series, team relay Saturday night, and the main event on Sunday. With the TORQ RV situated within the arena, the new shiny equipment on show, and the team gathered together for the first time we launched ourselves into what will be 6 months of excitement. The season runs now until the curtain closer at the end of September with the TORQ Performance team in action most weekends.

The course at Sherwood is pretty much pan flat; however the pre ride revealed some new tasty technical sections. I can vouch for that having tasted the dirt during the pre ride after trying to ride too much speed through a tight right hand corner, I can assure you that TORQ bars taste far nicer! Multiple line choices, dropoffs, jumps, loose uphill blasts, and plenty of flowing singletrack were split up by painful fireroad blasts. The course provided very little time to recover with all the descents being too short to gain any rest. The tough course and the early timing of the event meant riders would be in for a tough day.

Saturdays team relay was around an arena based 2-minute circuit designed to give maximum spectator entertainment. 10 teams of 4 riders lined up at the start all itching to get their team to the top step of the podium. 1 rider would do the first lap, then tag their teammate so they could complete their lap, 8 laps in total would complete the race. There was a good atmosphere around the arena with plenty of people watching, the pressure was on! Going up against some tough competition including Billy Joe Whenman, Lee Williams, and the Orange Monkey team proved hard work on the first lap, I came into transition in 3rd, the team of Lee Cragie, Mateusz Wielgos, and James Lister did an excellent job to pull team TORQ up to 2nd position. After a strawberry flavoured TORQ recovery drink and podium presentations it was time to grab some food and prepare for Sunday.

Sunday morning revealed a fresh morning with the wind ripping through the arena. On the long fireroads around the course you certainly wouldn’t want to be riding on your own or sat on the front of the groups of riders that were likely to appear. The plan of action was to start hard attacking as high up the order as possible before the first singletrack, then to sit in the group doing as little work as possible, before finishing strong and picking off the fading riders.

Round 1 of the series was a sell out and this meant some huge categories including over 50 elite male starters with several international riders attending keen to get some racing in their legs and possibly collect some UCI world ranking points. Also in the Elite race with me was my new teammates Andy Blair, Anthony O’boyle, Sion O’boyle, Nick Collins and humpty dumpy Tim Dunford. Off the start I nailed myself but my lack of zone 6 power and lack of race efforts in my legs showed and I was struggling from the off. Having concentrated on endurance miles and longer efforts up until this race I hope to be a lot stronger by round 2. Unfortunately groups began to form and I was in the wrong place stuck behind a rider who was slower in the singletrack, this allowed the top 10 to get a gap which quickly became to big to close back down. I was left fighting for 11th place in a group of 5 or 6, included in this group was Liam Killeen who must have been binding his time. The group split up in the last few laps and I really began to struggle as the race got nearer its end, in the penultimate lap I popped a bit and was left all on my own in 15th place trying to chase back. On the last lap I could see riders ahead of me so dug deep and rode my legs off, unfortunately it wasn’t enough and after catching 14th place going into the arena I didn’t have the energy left for the sprint.

In the end I finished exhausted in 15th place having left everything out on the track. It wasn’t quite where I’d of hoped to finish but looking at the results the time difference to the top 10 wasn’t huge.

Top effort from all the team, especially James Lister who’s an endurance rider yet managed to overtake the whole sport field which included 60+ riders to finish 2nd place! That was TORQ Performance’s first national weekend, 3 podiums completed an excellent weekend of fun. Next up for me is the Southern XC this weekend.

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