The first race of the year was the final Brass Monkey taking place near Aldershot in Hampshire. Just to make the start line would be a tough task with our flights landing from Gran Canaria at midnight before the race. Luckily our flights landed on time and I managed to get about 5 hours sleep before the alarm clock started beeping.
Arriving at the race venue the cold temperature was a shock to the system, going for 25 degrees centigrade to 3 degrees wasn’t huge fun! The race once again was a sell out so after my warm up I made sure of a good grid position on the front row by arriving a few minutes early. Having training hard in the mountains of Gran Canaria and after being deprived of sleep it was difficult to tell just how the legs and body would cope with the following 4 hours of pain.
I immediately took the lead up the first climb from the start line leaving me with a clear path ahead whilst the hundreds of riders behind battled it out for positition. Pretty quickly a small lead group started to form including myself, Phil Gale and Gareth Montgomerie. Having pre ridden the course before flying off to training camp I made sure to lead all the singletrack sections, half way through the first lap this fast pace on the tight twisty tracks meant Phil Gale had dropped off the back of our group.
Until lap 4 Gareth and I shared the pacesetting, however on the first climb of the lap the legs were still feeling amazingly fresh and I decided to try a small tester to see how Gareth would respond. To my surprise it was enough to get a small gap over the 2008 XC National Series Champion.
I edged out a lead over Gareth until he was out of sight and for the next 3 laps I rode alone to take a hugely satisfactory race win and overall series win. By the end of the race I’d cycled over 41 hours during the last 9 days, doing 5 to 7 hour rides in the mountains made race day almost seem easy even against some hugely talented competition!
The Brass Monkey race series each winter forms a key part of my winter base training, and the organisers put in a huge amount of effort to build in my opinion some of the best race courses in the country. For this reason I’m excited about returning again for next winter’s series.
One final thing i'd like to add is a little thank you to all the kind people out the course whether racing or watching who shouted kind support my way throughout the event.