Monday, 2 July 2012

Southern XC Frith Hill

Well doesn't time fly? It seems like only yesterday that I was going to the first Southern XC race of the year and I've just got back from the last. It has been a somewhat compressed regional XC racing season but its been awesome and leaves me nice and free to fit in all the other adventures I have left for this year.

This week we were at Frith Hill - again a return to a venue from the early days of my racing career. I definitely spectated here before I raced. The course basically consisted of lots of bits of very tight and twisty single track with some short, sharp (and oxygen dept enducing) climbs. It would be easy to get wrapped around a tree and equally easy to end up off track having missed a tight corner.

There were four elites for this round, myself, Jo Munden (Peal Heaven), Natasha Barry (WXC World Racing) and Ruby Miller (Torq Performance). I knew I had a chance of doing well in the race but there was also the series at stake in this, the final round. I was in the hunt for the series win - if Jo won, I had to come no lower than 3rd. I went off hard up the first bank, I wanted to be first into the singletrack so I could set my own pace through the trees. Managing this, I looked back to see I had a little gap ahead of Natasha and Jo.

Start-line chit chat

About a third of the way through lap 1, still with a little gap, I felt something hitting my leg - my tyre was spraying me with sealant. I slowed down for a few seconds in the hope it would seal. This appeared to work (much to my relief - I don't much like dealing with punctures) and I now had added incentive to increase the gap between me and Jo who I could see just behind. I now needed enough time to fix a puncture if required.  Chris now tells me I have twice the recommended amount of Stans in my tyres as I am "utterly useless at dealing with these things".

Thankfully it was not required and although I could see Jo for most of the race, with the gap changing size depending on where we were on the course and our relative strengths, by lap 3 I managed to get her out of sight. I wasn't content with this though and when told I had a minute's gap by Chris I replied "it's not enough" knowing how strong Jo can be at the end of a race. When I did eventually cross the line after an hour and a half I was incredibly pleased and even managed my first (very small and tentative) two armed salute (although no one has this recorded on camera). And so it was, 10 months after my first SXC series win North of the Border I managed a second, 500 miles further south.
And I'm done!

Jo Munden came in behind me, followed by Ruby Miller who apparently got her head around the trees by the 3rd lap (great to see her back racing again after a few years off the main scene). We just had a slight shuffle for the series podium, swapping Ruby for Natasha on the bottom step. It's been a good battle between myself, Jo and her throughout the series!
 Caption competition time!
As usual I then settled in for the rest of the day spectating for the rest of the races, handing out a few bottles and catching up with old friends and new. My day was firmly rounded off in style by Chris who had an absolute smasher of a ride to get his best ever expert result - 5th. It was great fun watching the guys get rained on (apparently in rained during our race too - I didn't notice!).

Many thanks to the guys at Southern XC - a great series. Next year will come round before we know it!