Monday, 3 June 2013

Blast from the past!

''XC Racing'', an element of mountain biking that I have passed by for the last couple of years, why, well a disappointment with the format of the races as they became more akin to a cyclocross race with some being over and finished in less than 75 minutes. There is the value for money aspect as well, paying out £30 for a short xc race or paying that for a 4hr plus endurance race.Contrary to popular belief I wasn't born in Yorkshire but it's really difficult to justify travelling halfway round the country, forking out on hotel (my other half doesn't do camping!), food, short race and then back home. Plus there was the fundamental point of my lack of xc race fitness, especially at Expert level.

Last weekend though saw a very welcome return of the WSSMTB xc series. In a previous life this was the Whipstakes Mountain Bike Series that ran back in the 90's when a privileged few had full suspension and I had a fully rigid Zaskar.....yes you young 'uns I said fully rigid! These were always well organised, friendly events on proper old school mountain bike courses on local farmland and woods, none of these manicured trail centre tracks here.

My last race in this series was in 1999 in Expert category, now lets be realistic here. Back then I was young and permanently attached to a bike, getting out on the bike now is based upon what time I get back from work, when the kids go to bed, etc etc. Two rides in a week is a luxury at present! So as I looked down at the riders in Expert category and saw Ian Field (GB cyclocross rider), Alex Paton (former GB academy rider) I quickly stepped back into reality and put my name down in Masters category....just one year till veterans though!

Now the Masters category only consisted of nine of us, hopefully more at the next round, but on the plus side I was guaranteed to get gridded at the next race as long as I finished the race.

The course went straight into a climb to get the lungs open, and a stairlift would have been beneficial as I assumed my position at the back, not by choice, more by fitness, or lack of. Now I had set myself some realistic goals for this race....number 1-Finish,.....number 2-Don't come last.

The course was a 20 minute blast through bluebell woods, farmtracks, couple of big bombholes before climbing back up along a rumble strip of a farm track that shook every part of you body, before back into the woods for a couple more bombholes and back to the finish. The On One Race 29er was ideal on this course, my tyre choice not the best on the greasy wooded tracks that involved a couple of semi stacks and 'contact' with the saddle. It was on this same part of the course that I came round the corner on the 3rd lap to find veteran rider Jon Lyons has parted company with his bike and had come down hard. After making sure he was ok and picking his bike up out the way I set off once more and passed another couple of riders before Jon came hammering by, fuelled by adrenalin and at the same time giving me a wheel to hang on to. As he pulled over at the finish with his laps completed' I headed off for my last lap with a guess that I was probably around 5th place, and just gave it my best effort, spurred on by ''go Daddy'' from my two little boys.

I passed riders on my last lap but wasn't sure what category they were in and it was only when I crossed the line I found out I was 3rd and about 40 seconds off 2nd with 1st place way out in front.

Mission accomplished and an enjoyable return to xc racing, and £22 in prize money for 3rd...bonus!

All in all a good day, the bike worked well, and I'm still impressed with the On One wheels that have taken a fair bit of abuse but perform and sound like they should cost quite a few quid more.

My only gripe being, where are all the xc racers? Oh yeah probably like me been put off xc racing. Well dust off your racing gear and get yourself up to the next round at Gravesend Cyclopark on the 23rd June. It's going to be a two race event in a superbike stylee...motorbike noises optional as you race...each of 45 minutes plus a lap, and double series points on offer. The bigger your elbows the less chance of being overtaken! Check it out at spread the word and see you there, as long as you promise not to beat me!

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