Afternoon people. Thought it was time for an update on recent happenings in the life of the only Hebridean XC racer! Haven't posted sooner purely due to the fact i've been completely fried for the last couple of weeks. My body is going to welcome the off-season break!
Anyhow - I made it to the last round of the Scottish XC series at Glentress the other weekend. Not to be making any excuses, but I hadn't been feeling myself all week. My dad had come down with a throat/chest virus thing and although I wasn't sick, I felt that I was trying to fight something off - energy levels just not at their usual, and the legs weren't feeling up to scratch on the bike.
The same was evident on the pre-ride of the Glentress course. I went out the day before with Dave Henderson to check it out - the course suited my abilities perfectly. A long, tough climb followed by a muddy, rooty technical descent and some rooty singletrack. However, after one lap of the course, I could tell something just wasn't right. Next to no power in the legs, and a general feeling of low-motivation. Oh dear. I did another lap on my own to try and regain some focus - it helped a bit.
Come race day, the weather was looking good, and with a strong field I didn't feel under too much pressure to look for the win. Gareth Montgomerie and Rob Seymour were both present, so it would no doubt be a hard-act to follow. The pace off the start was fairly brutal, I held on easy enough but didn't feel on usual form. I climbed my way into 4th position which I held for about 1 lap. The same empty legs feeling was still present from the day before but I tried to hold on as best I could. James Fraser Moodie then closed and passed me - I couldn't respond at all. For the next few laps I could see Iain Nimmo closing as well. Oh dear I thought - here goes 5th. He came past me like I was standing still. Fortunately for me, he cracked bigtime on the next climb and I claimed 5th spot back at the rather poor tempo I was setting! Meanwhile, there was no sign of Andrew Barlow - perhaps he was having an even worse day than me? Coming into the last lap, I thought I had 5th in the bag, not too bad I thought. Then on the technical descent, my chain popped off the cassette and jammed between the frame. I realised this at a moment where I went to apply drive to clear a large hole in the trail which sent me careering over the bars. Ouch! Back on my feet - trying to keep calm and fix the bike, the Torq/Kona Elite rider passed me. I got back on and passed him on the way down - he was poor at descending. Unfortunately I was pretty gone on the climb up to the finish, and he passed me again so I had to settle for 6th, a few seconds back. Happy enough with that!
So that brings the end of my MTB racing season. It has been some year, and I have learned a lot from it. Also got some fantastic results. I'm already planning my off-season training out in my head - eager to come back even stronger next season. A quick tally of the points showed myself and Andrew Barlow were tied for 1st place with 143 points for the Scottish Elite Series! He takes the overall though, as he gained 1 more win than me... bummer! I think he deserves that though, after being 2nd for 2 years running, and i'm just "the new guy" on the scene after all. We certainly had plenty to discuss after a great season of racing over a few beers in Edinburgh that night! (the next morning I had remembered why I decided to cut out alcohol this season too)
I'll shortly be putting up my report on the 130mile Road Sportive event I did in Ullapool last weekend so keep posted.