This sunday past saw the first round of the Scottish XC Mountain Bike series at Laggan Wolftrax. I was quite looking forward to this race as I was keen to test my form after the best winter preparation i've ever had so far as a cyclist.
I travelled down in the van via the Stornoway-Ullapool Ferry on the Saturday, met my mate Dave H and did a couple of "rekkie" laps of the course to check things out. I knew this course well, having raced here twice before, and it is always a good feeling going back to it as the long climb seems to be smaller than I remember every year for me - lets hope this effect keeps going that way! Descent is nice and fast, and they had re-graded the surface in places, making it even faster than usual. Back to the superb Greystones B+B in Kingussie for a good nights sleep, where myself and Dave woke early doors and looked out the window to find this view;Oh dear. Despite thoughts of the race being cancelled, the snow melted enough for us to race (phew) and before I knew it, 2pm had come and I was sitting on the start line with a stack of other Elite riders, and the commisaire was shouting 30seconds to go.
The start was as per usual, fairly frantic. I worked my way through the field and found myself in 3rd place at the top of the climb, just behind Hamish Creber (Sandy Walace Cycles) and Andy Barlow (Whyte Bikes), within my limits. By lap 3, I decided to drop back as the pace up the climb seemed a bit hot. Bit of a mis-hap occured after this on the descent when I dropped two of my energy gels and shades. Bummer. From there I was running solo, until James Fraser Moodie (Pedal Power) joined me on lap 5. He proceeded to put in a couple of attacks on the climb after this, where I responded and kept his wheel. All was looking good going into the last lap and I felt confident for a sprint showdown but the muddy, gritty conditions gave me some dreaded chainsuck and lost me a good 20m to James on the climb. I couldn't bridge the gap unfortunately so had to settle for 4th position, 15seconds behind James, and a couple of mins down on the leading pair.
Despite the issues, i'm more than happy with this result so early in the season! It appears I have indeed stepped up a gear from last year, so i'm looking forward to the next rounds. A great feeling indeed to be right up there at the front of the race! No race pics this round but a wee shot of the bike the morning after, before I did some training round Fort William World Cup circuit;
Over and out for now