The final showdown, and a tough task, made worse by a week old chest cold. A sensible person would have stayed at home, I had a prize to pick up from round 3 so I went anyway.
Slash had already sewn up his 7th Thetford series in a row, but there were 4 of us still with a mathematical chance of the other two steps on the podium for the 4 hr vets series. It looked impossible anyway, Andrew Bone and Mark were both faster than me when I was fully fit. I did have the higher points in my favour, they needed to drop a low score.
From the gun I watched them go, and could do nothing about it, I’d never wrapped up so much for a race, buff, hat everything, and I felt laboured. But hopes lifted as Ex pro Dave Hemmings swept past from the non seeded starters, chasing the leaders. All it needed was for him to steal a podium place and I could hold onto 3rd.
3 laps in, I was riding round with teammate Gregg just enjoying the superb cold dry course, loads of grip and no mud, when first John, then Andrew pulled out with mechanicals. I could not believe it, that meant 3rd place was mine, what a mental boost. I decided to pull out after 2 hrs and upped the pace just loving the course, strangely I then left Gregg and had second thoughts. Common sense took over though, lungs were burning, I got a position check and 7th with the potential for 5th just wasn’t worth any more damage.
So 3rd it was, way above expectations, but even though I still enjoy the long events, it’s clear they do mess up your training when it takes so long to recover from the toll it takes on an old body.