Thursday, 22 March 2012

Southern XC round 1

Now the XC season has begun in earnest. Last weekend was the first of the regional series races which for me this year are the southerns.
Still on the old faithful whitey (my tired but comfortable kinesis) my first spin around the course was cold and misty - not what I had anticipated from reading the weather forecast. The course was, on first impressions, very boring. 'What is all this going up and down fields?' I said to myself as I suddenly plummeted down a steep descent, skidded my back wheel around a loose corner and then struggled up a slippy, flinty climb (see team-mate Simon's blog on to see how I described it to him after the finish). By the end of the lap I was grinning like an idiot.

I had no idea how the race would go. I was quite tired being in the middle of a big training block and had compounded the matter by being doored by a taxi whilst cycling hard to try and not miss my train for Henley (I missed it but thats another drama). So as we went off into the first section of singletrack I was simply pleased to be in the front group.

I passed Jo Munden (Pedal Heaven) when her bike (and the mud) disagreed with her on where they should go and clung to the back wheels of Mel Alexander (Cardif Jif) and Alice Barnes (Twenty3C-Orbea). I couldn't hang on up the steep climbs so had to let them go, but towards the end of lap1 passed Mel who had punctured. Chasing a single rider who I could see in the distance I made the most of my familiarity of with mud (thanks Scottish XC) and closed the gap a bit but then began to feel my legs fading. As I was tiring the mud was getting more sticky and draggy (see Steve James' blog for a good description) and the combination was lethal! By lap 4 - BOOM that was me in survival mode.

Mel had passed me back by this point - an impressive show of strength especially given she then had chain issues and had to pass again to take the win. Alice had broken her chain but still took the Junior win. So I crossed the line in 2nd place, very happy and with nothing left in the legs.

Its nice to be able to feel competitive. After a few years in the wilderness it feels even better. What pushes you forward as a rider varies so much from person to person. But for me it has been about learning to love riding my bike again after working in the industry left me disillusioned, about hard work, a happy headspace and the people who support me (thanks Chris and coach Simon).

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