After a few good weeks training I was a little more confident and motivated going into this race. The race was to be held at Wasing Park where I narrowly missed out on a British XC podium last year. A few changes to the track meant there was even more rooty singletrack made up of loose loamy soil which would test riders ability to ride smooth and also riders sprint power out of the many tight corners.
After being gridded on the front row I made a good start leading the race around the first lap. I set a reasonably high pace but tried to ride at a comfortable heart rate to avoid blowing later in the race. Leading the lap meant I had a clear view of the track and could pick the lines I wanted to ride. By the end of the first lap there was a group of 4 riders at the front including Ade Lansley, Steve James, Tim Dunford, and myself, with Billy Joe Whenman just a few second further behind.
Over the next lap Ade and myself shared the work and created a decent gap over the chasing riders. The pace mid race felt comfortable and I started to figure out where I might attack and was looking for any weaknesses Ade was showing. Over the next couple of laps it appeared that Ade was slowing on the climbs but they were early on in the lap, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attack that early on and ride alone to the end.
Going into the last lap we were still together, it was a hard track to drink on so a gel each lap kept up the carbohydrate intake. A banoffee guarana gel at the start of the last lap I hoped would give me that extra kick I needed. Once the early climbs were complete I put in several attacks through the singletrack but it proved difficult to build any time without using too much energy.
I kept the pace high though hoping it would cause my rival to make a mistake and with about 5 minutes of the race remaining that’s what happened. A small mistake was enough of an opportunity for me to grab a few seconds lead and that’s all that was needed to take the 2011 Southern Championship title.