Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 British XC Round 2 - Wasing Park

On the Friday evening on the weekend of the race Ryan and I flew over to Bristol and drove the 1.5hours to our B&B for the next two nights. The weather on Saturday morning wasn't great. It was 8 degree Celsius accompanied by a dreary drizzle. We drove through the very pretty and posh country side to Wasing Estate where the race would take place. Quickly we built up our bikes and ventured on a practice lap around the course. And it turned out that I absolutely loved the course. It was set in this beautiful estate and meandered through bluebell woods, along small lakes, twisted through dense forestry and met a few little drops here and there. There wasn't much climb per lap and it was technically pretty easy, but the vast amount of sweet singletrack leading through this beautiful scenery made all up for it. I just love courses that are set into the countryside as if they belong there. One lap was about 7km long, but had only about 100m climb, most of it at the start of the lap. I did a second, "hot" lap with a few repeats and because I loved it so much I did a third lap.

On race day the temperature was even colder, 7 degrees! And that at the start of May! There wasn't many girls in my category, the biggest names were Lily Matthews, Kate Potter and Maddie Horton and I knew that Lee Craigie could have a shot for the top 5 on a good day too. I felt good during my warm up and I liked the course. I was looking forward to this race!

Starting on the first of 5 laps I immediately took the lead. It didn't last long though, with Lily Matthews taking over, Kate Potter settling into 2nd position and me into third. I made sure to stay on Kate's wheel and was determined to not get dropped. On a bit of climb I passed Kate who had let a small gap open on Lily and set on to close the gap to Lily. However, we then just hit one of the few bits of straight fireroad, one of the few places you can drink easily and I had a sip, with Kate taking the chance to overtake me again to nip into the singletrack ahead of me. I stayed on Kate's wheel and followed her through the loose singletrack in the woods, but then disaster struck. I took a corner too fast and lost traction and the next second found myself on the ground. I got up, but my handlebar had twisted and needed to be tightened up. While I tried to fix this, all the girl behind me passed and when I was finished I had to chase them from the last position. I managed to catch a few, but noticed I had fixed my handlebar slightly off center and decided to get Ryan to fix it at the feedzone. It was all a bit of a blur, but it seemed my handlebar was tight, but my front skewer had come loose and I had rounded a bolt and had to finish the race with the slightly off centre handlebar because it would take too much time to fix things. Again I started to a chase when I left the tech zone. When I went into the next bit of singletrack I had to stop again to tighten skewers - they defo weren't tightened up enough before the race! At the end of lap 2 I had clawed my way back up to 6th place and could see Lee Craigie leaving the start/finish zone. I caught her halfway through the 3rd lap and then tried to chase down Gabby Day in 4th place. It was hard to judge how fast I was going in comparison to the others, since I was riding by myself for the last 4 out of 5 laps, apart from the few times I passed people. I was told I was closing in on Gabby Day, but unfortunately I didn't catch her, so that I finished in 5th place. Lily Matthew showed a great performance on the day and won the race, followed by Kate Potter in second and a strong ride from Maddie Horten for third place.

Elite women's start

And to finish off a disappointing race I was selected for random dope control. Perfect, I can't even do a cool down. In a frenzy I tried to find Ryan who was off somewhere else to warm up for his race, or our rental car - which Ryan had moved without telling me (my chaperone must have thought I'm a bit dim-witted.... "no, really, the car was here, a grey car, it was right here.....") trying to get at a warm jacket and then find my racing license, tried to organize somebody to do Ryan's bottles for his race while I go for a supervised pee, waiting for the presentation to finish while freezing my *ss off.... all in all a not so great day at the office.... (thank god I have a second office, right?).

Anyhow, again it has been shown that to have a good race the following three things have to be in perfect condition: you mind, your body AND your equipment. I probably would not have beaten Lily, but I had felt that 2nd place was definitely within my reach if everything had gone right. It was a bit of a risk in taking our new bikes over, having ridden them only once before after building them up, but it's no excuse. I should have checked every bolt and every skewer closely beforehand after building them up again from the flight. Lesson learned. Now, where's that locktite?

Results available on

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