Friday evening was race night for me. Not often you'll see me write that but this year a new race series has popped up in my local area, The North East MTB XC league. It really has sprung up from nowhere and its run by British Cycling and best of all most event are within half hour drive away and one round 200 metres from my door! The events are small and fun events making them friendly. I took my son with me to see the first round to find out what it was like and liked what I saw. The races are super short and quick much more like cyclocross but its courses are more technical.
At Round 2, I made the decision to have a go myself. I wasn't too sure what to expect from this race venue. The last had been quite dry and fast, but this one was quite the opposite. My friend Dan who had arrived before me, recommended wearing wellies at registration and so I was given my first incling as to what to expect. There were a few more people at this race than the first one and there was a good relaxed vibe amongst people. The course itself was partly on a field but a single track climb that left it was quite steep. There then followed a meandering single track that went through the trees on the side of this hill. In total the laps were about 5 or 6 minutes long. I did say they were short!
This was the most relaxed I had felt at a race. I had come here for no other reason than to enjoy myself. I'd done no training for short distance races like this so wasn't not expecting speed from my legs. I also was on a singlespeed.
My first race on a SS.
I was also the only one on a SS
No pressure for me then. I put myself near the back knowing that the first climb would be my bug bear. Before I knew it we were off! and not long after I was rasping for air.......ah yes I don't do this kind of speed normally. Still no one was going past me so I knew I wasn't dead last which was a surprise in itself. Then came the single track. I spent most of this going sideways. No joke. It was seriously muddy and slippery. The very steep climbs I had to shoulder the bike and run up them but as everyone else was doing the same I didn't feel so bad about being limited by my one gear. One thing for sure this was no SS course. People were running much lower gear ratio then I was.
The racing was fast though and fun. If anything I had the biggest smile out there. Which is handy as I wasn't doing great but I actually didn't care. I never entered to win, I wanted to see how many geared guys I could take down. My mate Dan was having issues with his new bike and his front brake was binding on. He had to stop to take the rotor off but credit to him he battled on to finish it (Think his wife made him go on!)
The mud started to play its part on peoples bikes and SS made sense as others gears were clogging up. The mud was thick and stick and shouldering my bike up the hills was just to hard as my bike had doubled in weight. My tyres were so thick in mud that they no longer had any tread showing and made the descents that bit more tricky.
Anyway I finished feeling quite good and still beaming a big smile. I'd joked with marshals and the guys timing on the line. I'd even asked if I could claim first place in the non exist ant SS category.
It was very muddy but also a giggle. I came 19th out of 28. I came 1st in the SS cat........ok I made that last bit up as it doesn't exist (I may work on the organisers for one!)
Now to clean one muddy bike...............