• Sand in my crack

    A non-NW-League race last weekend, with a mini roadtrip to go with it. Back up to Scotland (after holidaying there over the summer and then returning to cheer Angela on while she swam in one of the lochs) and back in to the glorious, wall to wall sunshine. I’m starting to think the whole “bad weather” thing the Scots go on about is all just a ruse to keep everyone else away.

    Anyway. The sun may have been out in force, but it wasn’t doing well at warming anything up, with temperatures in the van each morning when I woke up hovering at around the 1 degree above freezing mark. Luckily we had the fan heater with us to make things a bit more pleasant (and there’s a certain joy in being able to stay under the duvet while making a morning brew…). Despite the chill, a Saturday trip to the race course left me in no doubt that the racing was going to be HOT!
    I got a few practice laps in. in between the Saturday races, finding a course that was super grippy, super fast all the way round and highly entertaining. I imagine, if it had been really wet, all the off camber sections would have been scarily technical and slow, but as it was you could just reposition your weight a bit and fly round them. Awesome! There were a few short “power” climbs, with a few nice, sharp corners to break up the flow a bit (almost matching last weekend’s NW league race course, which was handy!) and even a couple of trips through some sand traps that could catch you out if you dropped off the power at the wrong moment. I really couldn’t wait to race on it!

    Sunday dawned bright and sunny again. Conditions still perfect for riding bikes at the beach. Moods and spirits high, I got to the race site nice and early, had a ‘proper’ coffee from a nice little local shop just down the road and did some cheering as the other categories had their go in between the course tape.

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    Bring the noise

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    I felt like I barely needed a warm up, so glorious was the weather by the afternoon, but I made sure I got the legs thoroughly loosened up. After my last shameful exit from a National Trophy race – being removed from the course before the end of the race due to dropping too far back from the leaders – I was determined to do better this time round.
    I knew I had the endurance, but in these races, you can’t work on the assumption that you’ll work your way back towards the front in the 2nd half of the race. As happened to me, if you let the front end get too far ahead, you’re just kicked off the course. I warmed up and kept the legs spinning right up until I was gridded (3 rows back, not as bad as I expected!) for the start.

    From the gun I tried to not loose too many places. I slipped a pedal a bit so didn’t get to make up any places on the initial charge down the wide, straight starting loop and got caught up behind the “always going to happen” crash in the sand trap, but I tried to stay positive and keep attacking whenever I could.
    Groups started to form as people began to find their rhythm, but rather than settle into any of them I kept attacking off the front of each one, working my way up through the field early on in the race to maximise my chances of getting to finish without being ‘pulled’. The tactic seemed to be working. Working well. I found myself making up place after place, catching riders and dropping them as I flung myself round the course with a massive grin on my face. This was bloody ace!
    The ‘crowds’ through the sand traps were encouraging, half the course seemed to be surrounded by NW based spectators shouting at me to keep pushing on and the power-based nature of the course was playing into my hands (legs).

    Pic by Phil “shouting loudly” Simcock

    A couple of silly mistakes while I was out on my own, in between groups, saw my through-the-ranks progress halted and the last couple of laps were spent in a pack of 4 riders (fair play to the lad in our group bunny hopping the barriers like they weren’t even there…), but my this point one thing was clear – I wasn’t going to get kicked off the course before the end. Job done. Job very done, in fact, as I finally crossed the line in 19th (or 14th Elite, if you ignore the scary fast under 23 riders…which you shouldn’t really, as anyone on the course at the same time as you is in the same race in reality). Pretty chuffed with that. Mildly annoyed that I threw away a few places making those mistakes and letting the group get back up to me, but content that I’d made a good show of myself.

    Pic by “also shouting loudly” Liz Grimley

    Might do a couple more of the National Trophy races, if they’re all going to be as good as that 🙂


    10:39 am on October 31, 2018 | Comments Off on Sand in my crack | # |