Hello fellow cycle readers! I've been meaning to type this one up all week but i've been pretty busy, while also trying to concentrate on recovery as it has been a tough couple of weeks.
Due to my home location up on the Isle of Lewis here, British National races are normally pretty much out of the question due to the travel/cost involved, but as the second round was visiting Drumlanrig Castle (just north of Dumfries) this year, I thought i'd take the opportunity to mix it with the "big boys". Like most of the British NPS, the XC races are on Saturday, followed by the Whyte Enduro series on the Sunday which I hadn't initially planned to do.
Making the most of my time off work, I hadn't lifted off the training since the last race so was feeling a bit more tired than usual. Myself and Dave H from Pedal Power kipped at his dad's hangout just outside of Glasgow the night before, fueling up on some Pasta I knocked up, and headed down on the Saturday for the Race. A quick pre-ride of the course showed it was pretty much the same as last years SXC so it didn't take long to familiarise myself with things. I really wanted to try and go with Andrew Barlow (Whyte Bikes) at this race, but as I hadn't raced an NPS before, I was gridded right at the back so it didn't look possible.
With the race under way, the field bottle-necked at the first singletrack section. I was trying to nip through and pass people where possible, but with so much single track, I was being held up considerably. However, after 3 laps of the 5 lap race, I had worked my way through the main traffic and found a good rythm, passing riders along the way. Thankfully the Rockhard Racing crew offered to help at the feeding zone again, with the big man Alistair Crichton handing out my bottles, giving great encouragement as always (Cheers mate!). In the closing stages, I managed to get the hammer down properly and made my way up to 3rd place, finishing 25seconds down on 2nd. A great result! I got to step up onto the podium for the second time in a week, and recieved a nice glass trophy. Full Report on XC Racer.com . My buddy Dave Henderson also had a great race, winning the Sport Class!
Having finished the race feeling a lot fresher than normal (or so I thought), I decided i'd try and make the most of the weekend, and do the Whyte Enduro the next day as training. Dave wasn't so keen as he was feeling slightly ill, so after trying to "blag" a lift from various random people, Rockhard came to the rescue once again, this time in the form of Alistair Crichton's wife's people carrier. (hope she didn't mind the muddy seats Al!). Waking to an early 7.30am start, I met himself and Morven Brown (Rockhard's fast female xc racer) and we headed on' down to the race for some Enduro action!
The legs felt slightly heavy but after a gentle warmup, I was good to go, and entered the 75km event. The start was pretty fast, with some guys going off at breakneck speed (not a good idea for a 4hr+ race) so I paced things easy to start with. After an hour or so, I was joined by another couple of riders, and we were slowly making our way up the field. Eventually, I ended up riding with a Nevis Cycles rider doing the Vet's race, who put in a big attack with well over an hour of racing to go, so I dropped back and decided to hold pace. Single track... roots... Singletrack.. roots, then more Singletrack and roots, mentally this was turning out to be a tough race. However, before I knew it, I only had 15km to go so started to up the pace. I passed another couple of riders and crossed the line with a strong finish. Not knowing where I was placed, Ben Thompson from Nevis Cycles informed me I came in 3rd (!!) so it was a step up to the podium once again for the 3rd time in a week! Rockhard's Morven Brown also had a great race, placing 3rd in the Womens 50km, so it was smiles all round :-)
Feeling rather "toasted", it was back up to Glasgow to satisfy the post-race munchies at my Sisters flat, after which I decided to indulge in a single pint of fine spanish to celebrate. Big thanks to Alistair Crichton and Dave Henderson, who helped make a good weekend of racing even better!