Won a race once. AND DON'T YOU EVER FORGET IT

  • Slip sliding away – The Pembrey National trophy

    Nope. Not in the mud. Somehow, despite the torrential rain that turned the awning on our campervan into an upstairs swimming pool, there was pretty much no mud. The puddles were deep (and utterly bloody freezing off the start line sprint in the middle of the pack!), but fast rolling tyres were still the choice to make. The sliding around was not coming from my wheels. This time, to my shock and disgust (at myself for not identifying the issues before the race, mostly), the rubber hoods that cover the STI brake/shift levers had lost all purchase and were just spinning round freely.

    Doesn’t sound like much, I know. But it made the bike almost unhandleable on the tricky sections of the race course. Full speed dismounts (of which there were several each lap) were awkward with no real purchase on the bars, but the rutted descents, not yet smoothed by numerous race forced wheels (one of the joys of being the 2nd race of the whole weekend, with little pre race course practice to assist), were nigh on uncontrollable.
    Unsurprisingly, I found myself much further down the pecking order than I know I should have been. More than enough power to get past people, but no handling to keep ahead on the fun parts (and, to be clear, they were fun – the course was just fantastic) saw me drop back over and over.
    I ran my luck for as long as it would hold (and there are a good few people who will testify to just how utterly out of control I was), but on lap 3 the inevitable happened and catching the front wheel on a lump of grass (which should have been almost unnoticeable and utterly irrelevant, had I had some purchase on the front end of the bike) saw the grips spin wildly round, pitching me forward over the bars at full pelt. Smacking my head into one of the big, solid, wooden stakes at the side of the course and flinging me over the top of the barriers and into a crumpled heap further down the steep slope.

    I clambered back to the race course with a ringing head, sore ear (and hand, no idea what that came into contact with…) and minced my way back to the pits. I swapped to the 2nd bike, which was infinitely less terrifying to control, if a bit slower, and set about trying to cheer myself up a bit. The top of the 3rd run up (which turned into a elongated run round the off camber tree as the race progressed) seemed to be “Little Northern England”, with more loud cheering for us NW riders than the Welsh contingent who’s back yard it was, and that helped a lot – nice work guys!

    Pembrey National Trophy cx
    Running up the slope towards “Little Northern England”. Pic by Richard Howes – he’s #RichardHowesPhotography on Facebook

    Plenty of fitness saw me chase down and retake a few places until, quite simply, I ran out of laps.

    15th in the end. A disheartening result, given how good I felt and how much the course suited me (there’s a rumour that the same venue might be bidding to host the National champs next season…now THERE’S a thought 🙂 ), but to try and take some positives from it, I’m still in one piece, the repairs to the bike are fairly cheap and easy, I’m obviously in decent shape (and we’re only just about to begin to build for the end of the season / this year’s National champs…) and I did get to hang around after the race, at the beach, drinking beer while watching the youth races. Marvellous stuff. 🙂

     

    10:55 am on November 26, 2019 | No Comments | # |

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