Tuesday, July 6, 2010

2010 British Mountain Bike Racing Series Round 4 - Dalby Forest, Pickering

Photo by Michael Grainger

This is now my third visit to Dalby and much in contrast to Ryan I've always had pretty good races here, placing 2nd in last year's BMBRS race and a good performance in the World Cup opener in April. I like the course, technical and challenging with lots of flowy single-track, and the forest park and surrounding villages are just picture-perfect postcard places.

The course was basically the same as in the World Cup, only that Dixon's Hollow, the BMX track was taken out. While this made the course a little shorter I think it added more consistency to it. The conditions were mostly dry, grippy and fast, and it was a pleasure to revisit the likes of "Worry Gill", a slippery "Puncture Alley", the tricky "Bus stop" and "Medusa's Drop". My confidence in technical riding has recently received a boost after taking a skills course and I rode all the technical bits without blinking an eye-lid. And the great thing is, the more confident and controlled you go down these things, the easier it gets!

Medusa's Drop (Photo by Michael Grainger)

The Elite Women's group benefited from notable absences of some key racers, such as Annie Last and Lily Matthews who were off to Israel to prepare for the European Champs. The favourite for the race was New Zealand's Rosara Joseph who has recently had some very strong results. My plan was to hang on to her for as long as possible and aim for 2nd place but there were a few other strong girls who all could have had a good chance for 2nd place. So we set off at a blistering pace. Unfortunately I couldn't get up to speed fast enough so that I got into the single track after a bunch of people. This was basically the chance gone to hang on to Rosara, who opened up a gap almost immediately. As soon as we got out of the forest again I passed all the people ahead of me to get into the singletrack first behind Rosara, who had already gone out of sight. Both Cait and Lee were chasing and breathing down my neck, so I focused on riding the technical bits as fast as possible and opened up a small gap.

Negotiating roots at Medusa's Drop (Photo by Michael Grainger)

After the first lap I was half a minute up on Cait (and down on Rosara by 1.5min), so I kept the pace up and worked on increasing the the gap. It all went well for the next two laps which I rode mainly by myself, taking the climbs easy and concentrating on having a technically clean and controlled ride on all the descents. In the 4th out of the 5 laps my calves started cramping up, so it was all about keeping up the speed and pedaling smoothly, avoiding to have to put the feet down. It was still all going well, but when I climbed up towards Medusa's Drop on my last lap, I could see the green jersey of Cait coming to the bottom of the climb - she was catching up! I started making mistakes, cursing myself and having to walk up sections with Cait approaching below me. With screaming legs I went up hard the long climb for the last time. I kept looking behind, but I managed to keep her at bay. I finally finished in 2nd position, 50sec ahead of Cait and 6.5min down on a flying Rosara my best ever result on paper :)

Results from the XC race can be found here and a report on British Cycling here. Thanks to Rob for doing the bottles.

Podium (l-r): Lee Craigie, Mel Spath, Rosara Joseph, Cait Elliott, Maddie Horton

On Sunday Ryan and I took part in the Yorkshire Enduro Event - a great way of getting your training in after a hard race. The course was 4x15km laps of yesterdays XC course with a long extension in the middle that featured some nice bermy descents, a beautiful singletrack switchback climb, a good bit of fireroad, a nice long boardwalk section with little drops, a fast rocky and slippery gully descent followed by a rocky slippery gully climb. I rode most of it at endurance speed, feeling yesterday's race still in my legs and finished off with a hard last lap, finishing first women of the 4-lap event after 2h 50min.

Results from the Enduro can be downloaded here.


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