Nationals at Dalby Forest

Monday 18th April 2011

by MikeC

In May 2010 the world’s best mountain bike cross country racers took the trip to a Yorkshire Forest to race on what was voted the ‘best’ course of the 2010 season. In April of this year round two of the British Mountain Bike Race Series travelled from somewhere down south to set up a race village and provide an excellent weekend of MTB racing. The sun had his hat on and a 2.30pm race start for the masters and veterans meant me, Jason, Paula and Olivia has a relaxed morning and arrived at the race to watch the elites set off, which included a start line of the best UK riders and some top internationals. My tip to Jason that Geoff Kabush would win was accurate and he crossed the line first, 30 seconds clear of his closest rival. For anyone who hasn’t tried XC MTB racing, it starts flat out and stays that way until the end, a good warm up is key so I headed off to complete the first 20km of the red route. I returned to the van an hour later with a smile on my face and certainly warmed up! I had no excuses for a bad warm up. This is my first year in masters and am well aware how fast the guys at the front are so had a goal of a top 20, nailing the descents as fast as I could and enjoying myself.

If I could use one word to describe the Dalby course it would be ‘brutal’. Steep, vicious up-hills and tough technical descents means it’s a true test of riders fitness, technical skill and pacing. A grid position on the 2nd to last row meant I had my work cut out trying to get through the field. My main advantage came on the descents, where riders were going down the ‘chicken’ routes I would blast the steep drop offs and claim a few places. The encouragement from the crowd was fantastic but I did get the feeling they were hoping for a crash!! Five times up the worry gill and medusa climb meant I was really happy I didn’t ditch the granny ring as I made very good friends with it throughout the course of the race………I foresee a good relationship blossoming. A decent pacing strategy saw me finishing nearly as fast as I started, claiming a couple of places on the last lap where I think people had underestimated the physicality of the course. 11th is a respectable results for my first national masters race but I’m certainly more suited to endurance/marathon events. Fellow master racer and friend Nick finished 30th and Jason claimed 24th in the Veteran race. A great days racing and a pit-stop for ice cream and beer on the way back was a refreshing end to the day.

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