Sunday, 18 September 2011

Kielder/ Lake District/ France/ Italy/ Essex!

Here’s an update on what’s been happening since my win at the Kielder 100. On Sunday after the race Tim and myself went for a spin around Kielder forest to explore the trails and enjoy the sunshine which had arrived typically the day after when we really needed it! My legs were pretty shot after the previous day’s efforts so after a couple of hours I was more than happy to retire to the café for some very rewarding cake. Tim however being the machine that he is didn’t return to the log cabins for another few hours, what a nutter clocking up 80 miles on a recovery ride!

On Monday after a short car journey we rode another 5 hours around the Lake District. Tim had been raving about the trails here for some time and having only ridden at Grizedale mountain bike centre once I was keen to revisit. After a quick visit to the bike shop for some repairs we hit the hills around Ambleside before heading over to High Wray, Hawkshead, and Grizedale. We then rode back via a spectacular climb and descent to Rydal Water to conclude the best mtb ride I’ve done all year.

After a few days recovery I was back on another flight to Geneva having been invited back to work another week with GPM10. This time we were guiding from Chamonix to Nice over 4 days. This time I drove the van for half days which meant the riding wasn’t so tiring, driving also gave me the opportunity to drive on ahead and complete some interval sessions up the mountains before meeting with the group.

Before returning to England I picked up a bug and felt pretty aweful on Tuesday which spoilt the day which should have been a good relaxing day in Nice. After flying home I still felt ill for a few days and had developed a head cold. I was meant to be racing the ChainReactionCycles Marathon weekend in north Wales but hadn’t recovered so decided to rest and see how I felt by Sunday when there was a Eastern XC race happening in Essex.

After a chilled out Saturday I was feeling much better and decided I would race hoping there wouldn’t be much competition and I could just ride around! On arrival however several top elite riders had thought this would be a good tester before next week’s final national. Today was also a good opportunity to preview a new course they will be using in next years national series. Off the start a lead group formed including Stephen James, Ade Lansley, Steven James and myself. For the first half of the race I didn’t feel fantastic and my throat still felt tight; however as the race continued the pace felt pretty steady. I followed wheels for the first 5 laps before being forced to the front where I rode for the last 2 laps; I didn’t force the pace and tried to bluff on the climbs.

Steven James had a mechanical after 3 laps and had to stop to sort that removing him out of contention. Ade Lansley dropped off the group on lap 5 perhaps paying for all the work he’d done on the front. On the last lap I decided I’d either wait for Stephen to attack and then hopefully counter attack if I could to get a gap or attack on the very last climb half a minute from the finish line, risky perhaps but I hoped I’d be strong enough to pull it off. In the end we both had the same idea and attacked hard on the final climb, Stephen was really strong today but I just had enough energy to kick for a second time and edged out a small gap into the arena. The circuit will make for a really tough national race next year and I look forward to racing there again.

Today was my third top step finish in a row, when will it end!?

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