After a season of honing my racing skills on the road bike, the first race of 2018 saw the return of the 29er to the XC circuit over at the Brass Monkeys event hosted by Gorrick.
Stripping off – Brass monkeys!
3 degrees with clear skies meant a chilly start but after a warm up recce lap, I disrobed most of my layers and was ready to rock. But it was one quick warm up sprint too many, missing a decent spot in the narrow starting chute as you can see here (I come sauntering by at 10 seconds).
This rookie mistake was proof that I was out of race practice but enjoyed a high octane first lap as I had to nip around people on narrow single track sections then also try and take out as many people as I could on the short fire road sections.
As far as race strategy goes, it was the opposite of ideal as I burned a lot of matches in just simply getting to my natural position in the race.
The race thinned out on the second lap and I was able to thrash out a pretty uninterrupted loop, enjoying the different challenges that the course threw up from off-camber slippy roots, switchbacks (yep, with slippy roots), bogs, sharp climbs and all out short descents.
The penultimate loop was when I began to lap a few people so choosing moments to recover whilst waiting for opportunities to pass was the trick.
Lap 4 was really fun as I chased down the top 5, briefly gaining 4th spot (to be fair, he let me through not knowing I was also a 2 hour rider). However, both Neil and Chris glided round me with ease on an uphill fire road drag and I was pretty assured that 6th would be secure providing no mishaps.
The event was brilliantly organised and the result was enough to spur me on to aim high with my MTB season that will run alongside my road cycling goals of 2018.
It was lovely to catch up with Colette (above) and Duncan. Two old friends from my former life in London who are both new to the MTB scene but are smashing it in age group Triathlon representing GB. Great to see our sport growing and reaching out to roadies!
Looking forward to the next opportunity to race the 29er soon!