Away from the national series this year race results have been consistently good but at the nationals bad luck and poor form have demolished the target of podium finishes. However after a huge block of training through August, and race wins at the Kielder 100 and Eastern XC I was excited about the British XC final.
Plymouth is a familiar venue by now but the organisers always do a fantastic job of finding new trails to mix things up. This year was no exception with the inclusion of a couple of new downhill sections which required some extra attention in practice. Unfortunately most UK XC course can be ridden cleanly first time without any previous sightings of the track. However on the rare occasion there is a technical section groups of people tend to gather on practice day, it’s always amusing to ride clean through that section and know everyone is watching what line you’re taking. After my first sighting lap where I stopped at the top of a few sections before riding them I rode the first of 2 technical sections another 2 times and then retired for a TORQ recovery drink.
Image from Vermont Images
After a quick blast in the Team Relay Championship (where TORQ took 2nd place) my legs were ready for the XC the following day. I slept well in our privately rented cottage that night, the weekends preparation couldn’t have gone much better. Was a podium finish possible?
Bang the gun went but I had a slow delayed start with the rider in front struggling to clip into his pedals, this put me amongst the mid pack action. Two riders collided in front hitting the barrier, I was the next person to hit them flying over the bars, the charging riders behind hit my bike and tangled onto the floor. Jumping back onto the bike Calum Chamberlain very kindly gave me a helping push as I clipped in and tried to engage a gear. My mech hanger was bent and the gears were jumping all over the place. Just my luck I thought!
This was the last race of the season though, it couldn’t end like that. The next few laps was spent negotiating through the elite field, on the technical section I lost huge amounts of time as riders in front struggled to ride the slippery rocky descents. On the climbs however where passing was possible I was flying, catching riders with ease and riding straight past attacking to the very top.
Image from Vermont Images
11th place was the furthest I got before running out of laps. April 2012 will be my next opportunity for a national level podium finish. For now its time to retire for the winter.
Thanks to Ali, Hilary, and Connie for the support during the race, was glad you could make it! Thanks to John Newport at Vermont Images for the photos www.vermont-images.co.uk, check out the website for race photos