What have these guys done to offend the weather gods! Two Winter series races and two Summer events in 09/10 and all four of them run in a continuous heavy downpour. The mix of a full lap of sandy slop and the long races held here just destroys bikes and souls.
As the first round of the Eastern XC series it was a case of grin and bear it to get the campaign off to a start.
It was a mental race start, 100+ riders from all categories into un-rideable singletrack meant survival and a fair bit of running. Immediately there was no clue who you were racing against, I didn’t see winner John McAndrew all race. 7 laps in these conditions, meant one thing, no brakes at the end was almost a certainty, despite only really needing them twice a lap! There was nothing for it but to just plod on picking off slower and falling riders and see what happened.
3 laps in and true to form brake levers back to the bars, it was about survival. I was enjoying the super grip from the Ignitor shod Singular front end but then my front shifter just stopped working. Pulling and pushing it seemed to illustrate that the ratchet inside was not hooking up reliably. Although pretty flat, I didn’t fancy doing another one and a half hours in a high gear, so once it settled on a gear that was manageable for the whole lap I stuck with that one.
About this time I was passd by an obvious local rider, Russel Rout. His narrow tyre choice and the fact he was dancing over the first really sloppy section gave that away. For two laps we circled in each others wheel tracks. he would leave me easily in the slop as my gear was just to high for good control, then I would close on him quickly on the uphill and faster sections. As he appeared to slow and let me lead where he was better, I figured he was spent and powered away on the fifth lap, and still felt pretty good, a 21:47 lap confirmed this. I just didnt have a clue where I was, a commentator at the start was no use either; Note: your job is to keep people informed, use the electronic scoring service mate!
Starting the 6th lap and approaching 2 hours my mind wandered to thoughts, even hopes of them ending the race early and I slowed up a touch. Not as much as others though and I closed in on two riders on the finishing straight, Paul Cordery was one of them in bright orange top, I out-sprinted him over the line just incase. BigRing then shouted that there was indeed a lap left as we botched a bottle swap and I had the two riders to catch again. Were they in my class, who could tell! as the organiser just gives everyone a number, no way of telling from that, great for spectators too.
So off I went final lap, on a mission so might as well die in style, soon took the other two riders and then seemed to pull away easy, perhaps I was just lapping them after all. Then out of the final wood I was on the back of another Orange shirt. oh well only one gear I need now so I graunched the shifter onto the 11 and tucked in behind. The sprint was downhill and easily won by leaving it to the last few metres, and bugger me I’d just got on the podium by a second, Wahoo! So 33-11 can propel me pretty quick enough.
7 Laps of grinding paste slop in 2Hr35:16 for 3rd place. Over 10 mins behind winner John McAndrew and 5 behind 2nd place Andrew Manning, my laps times were;
21:15 – 21:35 – 21:53 – 22:07 – 21:47 – 22:48 – 23:48 FULL RESULTS HERE
Looking at the post race results shows the fast starters and turns out the two guys in Orange Basildon Timber tops I passed on the last lap were Brothers.
The first lap positions had me in 6th where I stayed untill lap 5:
Andrew Manning 20:01
Paul Cordery 20:07
John McAndrew 20:21
Jason Peters 20:21
John Cordery 20:49
Lessons learnt this week;
- Don’t pre-enter a race here EVER, if it rains just go down the pub
- Shimano discs dont wear pads down as much as the new razor Hope discs, I’m guessing all those holes just fill up with grinding Silica.
- Maxxis Ignitor on the front is all you need, super grip in as slimy and deep rutted as it gets. Crossmark rear is almost a fit and forget tyre unless it gets really steep.
- 33T front ring, minimal gap to chainstay and grinding paste equals wear marks on frame.. Doh
- Hope Stainless bottom brackets are well sealed.