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

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Erlestoke Twelve: 2011's first team event podium

Erlestoke12 - 6hr mixed pairs by James Dymond
Erlestoke12 - 6hr mixed pairs, a photo by James Dymond on Flickr.~Ruth and I only decided to race 6hr pairs at Erlestoke Twelve about 3 weeks before the event when I realised that it was nearly June and I still hadn’t raced yet this year... having a year off from individual xc racing has been great for freeing up weekends but I’ve still got the competitive bug!

Anyway, despite my idea of only entering once we’d seen a definite forecast for the day, I turned up at Ruth’s place the night before the race to find a rather soggy forecast for the next day. It’s probably this that helped her persuade me to have a bit of a lie-in and turn up without enough time for a practice lap... after all, 3hrs of racing each would be plenty to get to know the course.

Or so we thought! ...I can now confirm that taking the long way to get there, rushing to arrive on time and having a virtually empty fuel tank in the car are most definitely not recommended pre-race preparations! Once our camp was set up I had enough time for a few laps of the car park before the race was on!

Being honest, my first lap was dire! Stuck in traffic, not knowing the course and not being warmed up all added to that “what the hell are we doing this for?!” feeling! Being stung 3 times under my jersey on that lap didn’t help either!

Luckily though, there is a ‘but’... the course was fantastic; lovely dry woodsy, natural singletrack, fun bombholes, decent enough grassy climbs and some semi-technical sections to catch riders out at speed. And so as the race went on we settled into a great rhythm, blasting out nice brisk laps and leaving each other pace and timing notes between laps! About 1/3 of the way through we were 2nd started to take notice of our competitors, with 3rd only a few minutes behind and 1st a few ahead: the race was now properly on!

Luckily for us, the pressure eased when Emma Bradley (MXC) in 3rd punctured and lost about 25 minutes but we couldn’t back off if we were going to give the leaders a run for their money. Despite some really consistent lap times and a totally mechanical-free race we couldn’t quite catch them (Progression Fitness) – but were delighted to finish 2nd, just 2m33s down – having reduced it from 6m. Massive credit is due to Ruth’s really speedy laps and mega-consistency and I was really pleased with my own times too which got quicker as the race went on!

Great start to the team-racing season with some valuable lessons learnt... warm up, warm up, warm up!*
* Oh & don’t be late for lap handovers otherwise your team-mate gets rather angry - & rightly so! Sorry Ruth!

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