This round I was doing by myself, without Ryan, since he was still recovering from his collarbone fracture (he's got the go ahead today to mountain biking again - have a look at his blog for the newest X-ray - he's really happy about it). Anyhow, early Friday morning I flew into Bournemouth International airport - which is located just about 20min from the race venue, so handy! After having a much needed coffee in nearby Christchurch (I've only had 3.5hours sleep due to a 4am start), I made my way to the race venue for a pre-ride.
The course was different from any course I have ridden before. It was fairly flat (but not as flat as Sherwood Pines or Thetford Forest), but had a few short kicker climbs and a bomb hole. Almost all of the course was twisty singletrack, and it really did test your cornering skills. It wasn't as flowy as other singletrack courses, since the corners were fairly tight and it was hard to keep any kind of speed going at any time. It felt like you were constantly speeding up, then slowing down into yet another corner and speeding out of it again. The ground was slightly damp in places and there were also a few very rooty sections. It was hard to find a place to drink or eat a gel, since there was barely any fireroad. It was a good course, but one that didn't suit me quite so well, with my lack of good cornering skills.
All the usual suspects lined up on the start line. Stupid I was late and I had to start in the 2nd row (I had a problem with the nozzle on my tire and it deflated when I tried to pump it up and was frantically searching for the needed adapter to be able to pump up the wheel again). It usually doesn't make that much of a difference, but in this case we went into a fire road straight after a short climb up a grassy section. I wasn't in too bad a position entering the singletrack, maybe 5th or 6th, but had to fight my way through to make it towards the front. At the front, Kate Potter had immediately taken the lead, chased by Jenny Copnall. I managed to fight my way up to 3rd position, but then had to give way to a chasing Jenn O'Connor. Unfortunately I couldn't keep with Jenn and she opened a gap on me. This all happened at the start of the 1st lap. For the remainder of the 5 lap race, I tried to close down the gap again to Jenn, but I just couldn't make up the time. I was seeing her weaving in and out of the trees ahead of me but just couldn't catch back up. I wasn't feeling tired or anything, I actually felt I had a good race and was riding well, but I just wasn't as fast as the girls ahead of me. I definitely need to work on my cornering, since I thought I lost most time due to that.
And so I finished in 4th place. I would have liked to podium, but it just wasn't in me that day. Funny enough, this means that this year Jenny Copnall, Jenn O'Connor and I are in almost the same situation as last year with regards to the series standings after the penultimate round, except for the addition of Kate Potter who has a large points advantage and is well set to win the series. But for Jenny, Jenn and I it's again head on head, this time for 2nd place, either one of us has the chance to get it since we are points-equal for our 3 best races and I am sure that we are all going to make good use of our chance in the last round! Exciting!!!
Results are available here.
Joolze Dymond has some pictures available on her website.
Britishcycling have a report up on their website.