When we arrived on Saturday in the Glentress trail centre, which is one out of the 7 Stanes one in the area we were surprised to see heaps of cyclists out - and we thought, wow, this race must be huge! But then we found out that most of these people didn't even know about the race, they were just there on a recreational spin! We could not believe how many people there were just having fun on a spin out in the afternoon - the amount of downhillers, girls, kids, dogs, grannies etc... incredible!
We picked our way through the cyclists up to the top mountain car park (Buzzard's Nest) where the race was held. And wow, there was a purpose built jump park! And kids where doing jumps that I would never dare to do myself. I was really impressed!
One of the jumps - loads of people were riding over it before, but of course when I took my camera nobody did!
We signed in and did our practice laps. The course had a good bit of climbing in it and used parts of the purpose built amazingly flowy singletrack. Bar the 1st lap that used most of a fireroad for climbing, the laps were made up of a long climb using mostly singletrack with some very steep and slippery bits mixed in with some fireroad, then a really slippery, muddy and rooty straight and steepish descent, more technical singletrack descending, some fireroad and a bit of a last singletrack climb, before you hit the final bit of the lap: the jump park! Oh how nice it was after every lap when you descended down the last bit over the jumps to the finish line. Sooo much fun! (Although I didn't dare to do any crazy jumps - I'm such a chicken!).
On Sunday we girls lined up at the start to do our 5 laps. There was only 7 girls in the ladies Elite category, none of which I really knew. So I had no idea how fast they would be. We started off and oh dear - with the first pedal stroke I knew that this was going to be a tough race. My legs felt crap - lactic acid and pain straight from the start. Nonetheless, I sprinted off up the fireroad and noticed one of the girls tried to hang on. I then knew that I wouldn't have the mental power to win a close battle, so that plan was to give it my all in the beginning to just get away from all the girls as fast as possible, and hope they wouldn't catch me again when I slow down.
Ryan leading the pack :) (photosource)
I managed to get away on the climbs and held them away most of the descent, but when the expert men caught up, they brought Tracy Brunger with them, she seems to be a savage descender since she was able to make up all the time that I had on her on the climb! I just thought, damn, I need to go even harder! And I had hoped for an easy race! I got her again on the climb before hitting the jump park and was able to put a small gap on her at the end of lap 1.
Mel leading the race from the start (photosource)
The next few laps I was so scared that any of the girls would catch up to me again so I went super hard. I constantly looked back to see if there were any girls in the vicinity and it was hard to tell since a lot of riders had similar looking jerseys (all reddish with a bit of white in it!) so I had to look closely or try and recognize their race number to see if they were in my cat. I totally exhausted myself on the climbs and tried to recover as much as possible on the descents.
Biting the teeth together for the climb (photosource)
On the 2nd or 3rd lap however on the really muddy descent I slipped over a hidden wet root and fell and hurt my right thigh. It was just a blunt trauma, but it took me a few seconds to be able to move my almost numb leg and oh I was in pain. But no pain, no gain. I jumped back on the bike (hard when your brain tells your leg to move but your leg just doesn't want to follow ;) ) and tried to recover my hurt leg by mostly rolling down the hill. At the bottom of the descent I was able to pedal again cautiously and went harder again. Phew, I think I still kept off the girls.
Ryan looking exhausted going into the climb :P (photosource)
Then, on lap 4 the leader group scrambler for the Elite men came along and told me that the lead group was coming through. I looked behind - nobody. I went on by myself and about 5min later, Gareth Montgomery was coming through - by himself. I looked behind, nobody else. Another minute or so later Robin Seymour was coming through, chasing Gareth, who was about 30seconds ahead of Robin at the time. I went into my final lap without being lapped by any other Elite rider - pah, lead group, that was only Gareth and Robin ;)
Descending on a berm in the jump park - my favourite part of the course (photosource)
I was exstatic when I came to the last bit of the course for the last time, the jump park, and enjoyed the little jumps, I even tried to get some air! I finally finished the race in first position, and more than 6min ahead of Tracy Brunger in 2nd place. I was really happy with how I was able to push myself so hard, because I thought I was going backwards on the last few laps, afraid I might bonk for the first time in a race, but looking at lap times I was actually going faster! I am really really pleased with the consistency of my lap times, which just confirms my good endurance. I went so hard in this race that I felt I had really earned myself that win. Another nice thing was that because this was a UCI C2 event, I got 30 UCI points for it, so I now have a total of 56 UCI points!
Results can be found here and some pics from the race here.
Thanks as always to Torq for their continuing support.