The third round of the Bedgebury “Summer” (ahem) Short Course XC Series took place on Saturday. Most lists of things-to-do-on-rainy-days don’t include bike races, but I love it when the weathers not to rosy so Saturday had just about everything I look for in a bike race! Here’s how it went…
Patchy sun woke me up at 8am and turned into light rain after breakfast. A couple of costume changes, as the rain grew stronger, preceded the ride up to the skills area at Bedgebury for the sign on. The youngens were racing their race which meant their wasn’t really a chance for a practice lap so I waited for the five minute call before taking the leg and arm warmers off and rolled down to the start.
The course was the opposite way round from the last time I raced here so I had some ideas about what corners were coming up, but I did have to do some quick thinking on the first lap to turn everything around in my head. Luckily the night before, I had come up to Bedgebury to ride with one of my mates and having the information fresh in my mind paid dividends.
I took my place on the start line and decided to let a little air out of the front tyre. The others on the front row hadn’t pre-ridden the course either, so as we blasted away from the uphill start I decided that having found myself in 4th position I would stay here for a bit and learn the lap from the other riders’ mistakes. Unfortunately after a good start the rider in 3rd place was allowing the two in front to get away and so I looked for a way past for about half a lap before resorting to a truly forceful move into a downhill right hander. It ended up pretty clean and we both stayed upright and now I was able to ride back up to 2nd place.
The drizzle rejoined us as the two of us rode up the long drag that heads toward the start line and the rider in 2nd seemed very strong. After a good 3rd place here in round one I had almost already settled for 3rd place, but as we worked our way through the wooded switchbacks the rain grew stronger and sparked something in me. As we went into the fur wood at the top of the course I bit the bullet and pulled through expecting to merely do my turn on the front, but as I worked harder I was not only pulling a gap on third place, but also beginning to get glimpses of first position!
The sun shone for ten minutes and lit my target ahead of me. I’d ceased hearing the freewheel of the third place rider behind me and was able to focus upon learning just how hard to push the front wheel. The clay in this area has become bulletproof over the summer and following this morning’s rain there was ever changing amounts of grip as the course winds in and out of tree cover and takes in established trails and some newly set lines covered in leaf litter. At the end of the second lap I’d bridged the gap up to first position and you guessed it, the rain came back – and came back with a vengeance!
As I chased the first placed rider down through the tight twisty coppice woods the drizzle turned to rain”! With that my quarry’s shoulders dropped and I knew just a little more pressure would break him, so I latched onto his rear wheel for the next few kilometres. When we emerged onto the long hill before the finish he made a remark about how slippery it was, which I took as my queue to come through, which I did putting in maximum effort up the hill. I’d gapped him by ten or so bike lengths and so I kept up the pace through the trees taking lots of risk as the rain poured down around us.
A lap later on I glanced around and could no longer see anyone on my wheel. As I looped back into the start finish area I saw the rider behind and figured I must have maybe 45 seconds on him so I kept up the pace – I’d come back from being behind, so I reckoned that if he had the chance, he’d take it to! Just as I thought that I had a massive moment coming out of the start finish and narrowly saved a big highside. Two corners later I had my foot down to make sure and for the next two laps I worked hard on keeping the front and rear end in check. On the bell lap I listened intently to how quickly it would ring behind me and after two minutes I knew I could let up the pace a little.
My bike had performed faultlessly in the changeable conditions and it was with great pleasure that I took my second win of the year (and it’s first ever) on it. The first had come in similar conditions on the sister bike – The twins are now on one a piece! The Rohloff hubs seem to be working very well and have only needed very basic servicing, which has been solely undertaken in-house by THEÆIGHTBICYCLECØMPANY. As have the Fox suspensions, Kona frames Schwalbe tyres and Hope components. The Bedgebury races are really well run and are well worth a visit whether you’re a racing virgin or a shaven legged pro. More info can be found here.
Finally there are two people I need to thanks this month – Jonny, who has worked hard on his sprint (Cav take note!) and is fast becoming a very strong training partner and my Mum, who’s ever insistent feeding clearly gave me the edge this weekend. The amount of pasta I ate the night before the race would have been enough to get me to the moon and back and allowed me to lap all but four riders!
THE8RAC3R appears courtesy of THEÆIGHTBICYCLECØMPANY and proudly uses Kona Framesets, Fox Suspension, Rohloff Transmissions, Shimano, Hope and Ritchey Components, Adidas Clothing and Torq Performance Nutrition. Visit my Facebook page here. “Like” what you see, to stay up to date with all the latest information. Many thanks for your valued support.