The final round of the SXC series and Scottish National Championship arrived on a warm …
Testing myself against the best
So after just one race this year at Cathkin Braes on the 27th May, where although I’d gained some fitness, was well down on where I wanted to be this year due to a considerable lack of training/motivation, We were back at Cathkin Braes again for the British National Championships…
Since May I had put in a lot of hours on the bike and my fitness had improved, but this wasn’t any ordinary race, up against the best the UK could offer was going to make this a pretty tough day. It’s worth noting when I stared Mountain Biking in the early 90’s guys like Tim Gould and Nick Craig were idols to me and it was a HUGE honour to be racing with them. On top of that having the privilege of riding for SCOTT Sports with Nick (and Stu Bowers) is still something I still can’t quite believe.
Over 50 guys in the vets race lined up at the start and after a quick chat with teammates (and favourites for the win) Nick Craig and Stu Bowers, it was time for gridding. Only having managed one race this year I was on the back of the grid and fully expecting to stay around there for the rest of the afternoon.
Once the gun went it was hell for leather along the start finish straight and out towards the wind turbine. the first tricky section was a bit of a traffic jam and I managed to make up about 10 places taking the slightly longer but quicker B line. With the first lap pace as high as it was I was please with the way I was climbing up the clyde climb and made up a couple more places.
Some of the course changes from the SXC race in May made things considerably more challenging, including a steep short climb up into the wooded section, It would have been nice to have a lap time comparison to the May race but the changes probably added a minute or two to the lap time. Some segments remained the same so it was nice to see the training had paid off and I was rewarded with a new PB on the Clyde climb.
I got my head down and battled on, feeling strong on the climbs and relatively comfortable on the technical stuff, still something I need to improve on, I’m limited around where I live for proper technical off-road tracks, but more time at Glentress would fix that.
I passed Murray Kirk at the end of lap one looking forlornly at his bike having flatted in exactly the same spot as he had in the May SXC race. really bad luck which seems to have dogged him all this season after his excellent 3rd overall in the Scottish Cross Country series last year.
As the race progressed it became a more lonely affair with the gaps between riders growing, the guys in front getting further away and the guys behind doing the same. I kept plugging away, Nick Craig came past me in the lead as I started my 4th of 5 laps, closely followed by Stu Bowers, looking like SCOTT were on for at 1-2. The speed these guys were going at was insane. Something I can at aspire too when the dark nights in the winter are making the training a challenge.
Completing the final lap I rolled over the line in 28th place, and 17th overall in the 40 -45 age group. Really pleased with the result when I look back on my three months in the doldrums at the start of the year (and kicking myself slightly too that I’d not just manned up and got on with it!)
Massive congrats to Nick and Stu for a brilliant 1-2 for SCOTT, and another year in the National Jersey.
Now for 2x weeks in Spain with the Road Bike and once back R5 of the SXC series in Fife, hopefully my fitness won’t tail off too much in the next few weeks.