7hrs 15 mins in the saddle, the longest ride I’ve done in over 20 years …
Things are look up
On the course that has probably the most climbing I’ve experienced at an SXC Round, I also managed my best ever result in a national series round with 8th place so an excellent weekend away.
I was apprehensive about this round after the stories of last year’s round where there weren’t many positive comments about the track (and the fact the weather was pretty awful) but I need not have been, Pete and the team at SXC reworked the course into a real gem and up their as one of my favourite ever courses.
The training I’d done during the winter has given me a decent sustainable power output so long steady climbs have turned into my thing, something I would never have thought I’d hear myself saying in the past, and with virtually 15 minutes of constant climbing straight from the gun, it was going to be a case of pacing myself rather than my usual trick of going hot out of the blocks and holding on for grim death for the last lap and a half.
After the first two races of the year with my cramping issues, I had to consider doing something different, so sitting in the zones I know I can sustain for decent periods would hopefully mean I had something left in the tank come the last lap.
After the long climb came some great descending, and also a short section through a rooty wet enduro style downhill which was a real challenge, I only managed to ride it properly once, so still more work to be done on the handling side.
With some of the round 1 riders not present, I was gridded on the second row and got a decent start, settling in behind Gary Hughes and Andreas Schaefer on the first climb. about two-thirds of the way up the climb I could still see Paul Sharp, Wayne Barr and Crawford as they turned onto the next part of the single track climb, I was sitting in about 6th place. but with steepest most challenging part of the climb still to come topping out at a maximum gradient of 23.6%
After that it was almost all downhill to the finish other than a short sharp climb which would prove decisive on the last lap.
The second lap was more of the same, watch the numbers don’t go into the red, gaps were still quite close and behind me Richard Greenwood and Murray Kirk we’re in close proximity.
Through the wooded section at the end of the second lap, I got caught by Murray who is a demon on the tricky downhill stuff, and although he was still in my sights on lap 3 as we climbed back up to the top of the course, he continued to stretch his lead on the downhills.
On the last lap, I was tiring but with no cramp, I was feeling positive, Roddy was slowly but surely reeling me in, and on the last climb, we were together, riding side by side on the limit!
On the final downhill I was slightly ahead, but took the slower route around a section of roots and Roddy saw the opportunity to sneak around me.
Crossing the line I was happy with the fact I’d not cramped and paced myself pretty close to as well as I could, I felt like I’d made some decent progress riding with my head a little more than pure grunt.
8th place and my best ever finish at a Scottish national round was a great result and some good ranking points made the trip home on the ferry extremely satisfying.
A six week gap now until the next round at Lochore Meadows but with two rounds of the British NPS series in Aske and Dalby means no rest for the wicked.