Our team mate Simon Ernest and his wife had come to visit so we dragged them along to the race. It is always good to race on different territory and the SXC (Scottish) and SXC (Southern) could not be more different. A quick potter around the course confirmed that heart attack hill was indeed steep and chest pain inducing and that the descent was slippy and steep requiring some hanging off the back of the saddle - fab.
First time up the climb I was in the second group back. I tried to keep the same pace even with changes in gradient and was only a few seconds or so behind Lesley Ingram the race leader as we went into the descent. Unfortunately this is where it went a bit wrong. Somehow I lost my balance a bit and ended up leaning against a tree which was all that stopped me from tumbling down the hillside. Annoyingly pretty much the rest of the field then streamed past me, essentially trapping me there. When there was finally a gap I unclipped and was able to get going again. Then... on a slippy section with two lines another girl accidentally T-boned me. I went straight over the bars. Scrabbling to get going AGAIN, I realised that my front shifter had snapped off in the crash. I decided to carry on riding even though I only had two gears because the course was just soooo fun.
I was limited a bit on some of the flatter sections and faster fireroad descents because I was spinning out but otherwise I could ride as I would normally have. However, I ended up 3rd despite the problem and was pretty chuffed. Hannah Barnes (MTBCut Orange) was 2nd and Lesley Ingram (Innerleithen MTB) won. It was lovely that the walkers who were using the fireroads to do a bit of rambling were cheering us on as we passed them. It would be great if this happened at more venues rather than the conflict we sometimes see.
|In the pits|
I then headed for the pits to help Mel out for the boy's race. Although not before accosting random people to acquire MTB shoes for Simon to race in after he accidentally packed his road ones - thanks to Paul Newnham for coming to the rescue! Once they got going Gareth Montgomery (GT) went into the lead with Simon just behind him. Chris was in the mix a bit further back which considering how bad he had been feeling earlier in the week was pretty good going. The hilly nature of the course meant that gaps were increased steadily as the race continued and the rider order on the course didn't change much. Simon kept the gap to Gareth constant and even managed to reel him in a bit at one point which considering his one ring set-up was pretty impressive. So 2nd place for Simon and 8th for Chris.
Both Simon and I were pleased to walk away with a cheque which covered our race entry fee and a lovely slate trophy - other organisers take note we will pay higher entry fees for good races but there also need to be rewards! Another great race organised by the SXC folk. One tip though - it would be good to be able to find my way around the course on a pre-ride without asking random people on the course which way. A few more signs please! Thanks to the Squadro Porcini guys for a great course though.
|Post race stretching in tandem for the AW boys|
|Elite/expert men's podium - prizes presented by Danny McAskill who raced the sport race|
Also as always thanks to AWCycles.co.uk, Giant, High5 and Chris for providing bottles and cheers!