Although trips down south are exhausting and time consuming for us now the fact that I had to go south for my graduation on the same weekend as Enduro6 meant we just could not resist entering the event. Chris and I have raced this one twice as a pair before and last year he a Simon Ernest raced the men's pairs (whilst Simon''s wife and I celebrated finishing our respective PhDs with bottles of champagne). This year Si was racing with Steve James so Chris and I reinstated the fedder-penton dreamteam Brighton Big Dog Champions 2009.
We had ideal preparation for this event - NOT! A long drive down from Fife, followed by a long day in high heels and Harry Potter garb made for a tired and underprepared team (just to confirm Chris did not wear high heels but his shoes did pinch apprently). We had no time to recce the course, breakfast was a bit ad hoc but it was so lovely to see lots of our friends that we quickly got over it! The course was pretty similar to previous years anyway right? We piled our crap in the pit area we had been designated - opposite Verity Appleyard and Anthony "Chuck" Morris and just along from Anna and George from Salsa and Sally Gabriel and Roy Davies all of whom we knew to be great riders. It was going to be a tough competition. Bring on the battle of the mixed pairs!!
Chris "volunteered" to do the run (obviously there is no point in the GIRL doing the running bit and hectic first lap!) and all the mixed teams seem ed to have decided on similar tactics - 2 laps per rider to start with knowing that around 1 minute was lost in pitting and changing. At the end of lap 1 Salsa came through first, with Gabriel/Davies just behind and Chris and Chuck together a bit further back. When the boys came into the pits the informed us they were leaving it up to us to decide the result - great no pressure then. So, Verity and I went out together, I had a dig, she had a dig on one very steep climb (kudos on having the strength to power up that). As I came back up to her wheel I was just about to suggest we worked together to try and reel 2nd place in and decide our result later when disaster struck. Verity seemed to slide off the course (turns out her back wheel fell out). I had a quick look back to see if she was ok - she was so I pushed on. The podium was effectively decided at that point since we could never quite get back to Sally and Roy (although Chris did amazingly well to pull it back at one point) and the Salsa team employed a more male dominant race strategy and won by a good margin. They would have won anyway mind as George Budd has some good form at the moment.
It was a good result for us considering the preparation and a great day for the AWCycles team as Si and Steve got 2nd in a very close men's pairs battle. The only disappointment yet again came at the podium ceremony. Now don't get me wrong I don't race my bike for the prizes and I understand the costs involved with putting on a bike race. However, when the primary sponsor of an event, a big cycling retailer provides vouchers as prizes (vouchers cost the retailer far less than their face value because the actual COST of the goods to them is obviously less than their sale value) and these cover less than half the entry fee for the 3rd place prize it feels a bit like a kick in the teeth. I don't know what else they were providing to the organiser and they do support a number of riders, but still I think a little of the profit could go to those making the effort to provide an exciting race at the front!