Racing. How racing should be.

Monday, March 12th, 2012

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After last weekend’s racing at Black Park I needed something to put a smile back on my face. The Gorrick series is another non-ranking event but they consistently provide some of the best run, best value, best course XCO racing in the UK. Crowthorne Wood is traditionally round 3 of the series and holds a whole lot of memories for me.

Let’s rewind the tape to 2007… My first year at University. It came down to Crowthorne Wood to race out for the coveted 4 places in the Uni team. Pat Cobb, Me, Rob Spragg and John Whittington. If you have been racing long enough you might recognise all of those names. I think that was possibly the last time I beat John Whittington in a fair fight.The woods are about 5 minutes ride from Sarah’s parents place and I used to ride there every week with Ergon’s Richard Todd. If anywhere is then this is my home race with real home advantage. Well, it would be if it were not for the hundreds of other people who also ride in there all the time.

I had a good weeks training, less hours than I was hoping but the first race always digs a little deeper; especially in those conditions. I am using this early season racing to just train straight through so on Saturday I did 3 hours with the local road club. This South African guy George came out, he was probably the best road rider I have ever seen. 50 years old, 4% body fat, 35 years riding experience and  Fast. Hitting 3 hours with an average HR of 150 and maxing out at 190 is not my usual race taper. It was great. I think George and I gave GS Henley a little shock on a Saturday morning…

Come Sunday my legs felt surprisingly good, despite the bashing they had the day before, and the sun was out ready for the fun single-track in Crowthorne. I can honestly say that I have not had such a fun race in absolutely ages. I rode hard, sometimes fast, climbed OK  and at times faultless in the single-track. Perfect. I even managed to not blow my brains out over 1:48:52 of racing. I had a great last lap battle with James Horton, played my cards well, let him pass me where he could do the work and the pinched the shot in to the final descent and climb. He was pleasantly smashed at the end. I took the place. No cramp. Winner.

So all in all a great day racing and just what the Doctor ordered. 14th from 22 guys in a mixed Expert/Elite field is not great but the feeling was. The top 6 were pretty strong guys and the usual suspects at the front. I am still going to hide in the safety of steady miles for a few more weeks before starting to ramp things up once I am completely stable physically. It is a long time until the season is over and lots more battles to be had.

Thanks to Sarah for bottling for me, Gorrick for putting a great event on, James for not beating me, Joolze for shooting and the Sun for shining.

Holding off James Horton to the line.



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