British Mountain Bike Series, Race 2, Dalby Forest

Monday 11th May 2009

by MikeC


A mountain bike race should be a test of fitness and technical ability, basically the ability to ride very fast over tough, demanding, technical terrain. Quite a few courses in the UK fail to meet this criteria (in my humble opinion) but Dalby Forest met this criteria with flying colours.

The course has short, hard climbs, long hard, lung busting technical climbs, very technical, rocky, rooty, steep descents and flowing, sweeping singletrack to test the skills of the best mountain bikers in the country. What a course! This event was also a test event for a World Cup bid Dalby has put in so the course had to be this tough. My pre ride on the Saturday was essential in order to figure out the correct lines to take and to know what I was letting myself in for. After riding all the steep technical stuff with ease I had a momentary lapse of concentration on a flat, gravely corner, my front wheel went from under me and I managed to hit my ribs with the end of my handlebar. This really, really hurt and I was winded for a few minutes before getting up and riding on. I hoped my ribs wouldn’t be too bruised for the race the following day.

The atmosphere at this event on race day was fantastic with a commentator for the races and plenty of spectators out on the course hanging around the steep technical sections waiting for racers to make a mistake.

Due to pulling out in the first race of the series I was on the back of the grid but wasn’t to worried as there were only 30 riders in my category. The start had us looping around a field and then diving into the singletrack carrying a lot of speed. I managed to move up to mid pack before hitting the singletrack and followed the procession of riders in front of me. The first lap is like a pecking order whilst riders settle into their own pace. By half way around the first lap I had passed another handful of riders but wasn’t sure what position I was in, within the top 15 I hoped. One of my strengths as a mountain biker is my technical ability and I was getting caught behind slower riders on the technical descents which is always frustrating. About half way around the course there was a long steep climb which really strung the field out. Coming around to start my third lap I heard the commentator say the name of the rider in front of me was in 9th place so that put me in 10th. We rode the rest of the course pretty much together with me creating a gap on the descents and him catching and gapping me on the climbs. He even told me he didn’t like the course, I believe his words were ‘It’s a bit steep and scary’. On the long steep climb out of Worry Gill on the final lap we caught another rider and rode together for a while, they then created a gap of about 15 seconds on the last climb which I didn’t manage to close down.

I crossed the line in 10th. My goal was to get a top 10, so goal achieved. Not too shabby for my second outing in the expert category. A fantastic course and a good result made for a great days racing. The next 6-7 weeks is going to be a series of road races so check back for more blog activity.

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