Monday, September 26, 2011

British Mountain Bike Series Round 5, Newnham Park, Plympton, Plymouth, UK

The last Round of the British Series was held in Newnham Park, near Plymouth, and is one of my favourites of the series. I've raced here a number of times, as part of the series and as part of the Bontrager 24/12 and I've never been disappointed with the course. This year Jay and Maddie Horten pulled out all the stops and created the best course I've ridden so far there and in the whole series this year.

Taking out the notorious grassy climb and replacing it with short sharp climbs and tons of rooty singletrack, combined with a new steep, technical and very slippery, slidery descent, plus the existing swoopy fast descents really made the course a winner for me. Every painful climb was rewarded with a great challenging or fun descent, I really really loved the course.

After the 5-day stage race the week before and relaxing the training and eating regime slightly over the last while and my head already in off-season, I wasn't sure how my legs would respond in the race. Thankfully I didn't need to worry too much, as I was leading the series and had pretty much bagged the title, bar some unlikely scenarios.

British Series podium: l-r: Maddie Horton (4th), Melanie Spath (2nd), Annie Last (1st), Lee Craigie (3rd), Cait Elliott (5th) (photo courtesy of Bob Bogdan Williams)

The weather was nice and at race start I lined up next to Annie Last, British national champ and silver-medalist in the U23 World Champs. We went off and let Annie set the pace, which was fairly relaxed at the start. The group in sight of each other for the first lap, and I settled into 3rd position after Annie Last and Lee Craigie. While Annie pulled away at the front and slowly got out of sight, I was battling with Lee. In the 2nd out of 4 laps I tried to get ahead of Lee on the climb, but she caught me again on the off-camber descent (I defo need to work on those this winter!). Then, on the 3rd lap I attacked on the short climb before the long technical and slippery descent. But Lee wasn't giving up and I could see her closing in on me again on the last steep climb in the lap. I kept the fire lit for the last lap and stayed clear until the finish, bagging a 2nd place behind Annie and sealing my overall series win. What a great way to end the season!

Full results are available on and a report is up on

Thanks to Conor for the support in the feedzone.

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