Adventures of the Cotic - A Quick Release holidays mountain bike race team

Monday, 19 April 2010

British XC1: A Master's view

This year I've decided to go for it and challenge myself with the BMBS. Goodbye comfort blanket (the rest of the team at the 12 / 24 hour races); goodbye excuses (no time to train, I'm not sure I can do this etc etc). Just get out there and ride. Sorry, RACE!!! So, here we go... BMBS Round 1, Sherwood Pines. My first race of the 2010 season.

Solid winter training... check
Nice new Bonty tyres...check.
Bike polished and ready to go... check
Weather gods smiling... check

During the week before, I had the usual case of 'pre-race nerves'. However, when I arrived at Sherwood and caught up with the rest of the team, I began to relax and enjoy myself. A couple of warm up laps in the sunshine laid any fears I had to rest, as I found a course that played to my strengths - fast paced and action packed, with enough technical interest to keep my on my toes.

Sunday morning dawned, and I managed to keep the butterflies in my stomach at bay. For the first time in my (short) racing career, I had a proper warm up routine - which I seriously recommend. This was a great way of ensuring I was prepared not only physically, but mentally, for the race.

The Masters line up contained a few names I have raced previously, and a few more I didn't recognise. I'm relatively new to this game, so I didn't really have a race strategy as such - my aim really was to learn from the experience, with the longer term goal of a podium place by the end of the series.

The gun went, and I got a great start, leading the field for the first few hundred yards. A few people came past going into the first main section of singletrack, and I got caught up a little behind some of the blokes who started in front of us(!). With so many categories racing together it's hard to tell where your competition is, so I spent the rest of the race chasing down whoever I could see in front of me, sprinting for the singletrack, and trying to hold off anyone behind me from passing me. I had no real idea where I was placed. I concentrated on powering through the fireroad sections, whilst trying to flow through the singletrack. I was enjoying the course - particularly the dual descent section and the little chute just after the steep climb - and felt that my winter training had paid off. My fitness was good, and I'm beginning to see improvements in my basic skills.

Part way through the 3rd lap, one of the spectators said he thought I was in 4th place - this gave me a real boost and a burst of energy. I was determined not to let anyone past (whatever their category... just in case... although I did make an exception for the top 3 elite women who came through near the end of my last lap...) - but how close was I to that elusive podium place???

As it turned out... not close enough. I continued to work hard through the final lap, but 3rd place was never in my sight. I finished 4th - far better than I had expected, and I feel I have more to give. Well done to Emma Bradley for the win. But watch out girls, I'll be breathing down your necks at Round 2!!

What went well?
* Good warm up
* A great start
* Fitness and power on the fireroads
* Clearing the little log jumps (albeit not very gracefully)
* 4th place...

Where can I improve?
* Cornering... carrying speed through the singletrack
* Confidence in my ability... I can clear those tricky sections, if I get my head round it
* Technique, technique, technique...
* 4th place...

Overall, I really enjoyed the race. Thanks to James Hampshire for an interesting course, and to Ian and Kate for their excellent coaching support. BMBS Round 2... bring it on!!

Kirsty Eastwood, 19th April 2010

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