With all the gravity fed racing throughout the preceding rounds of the Spring Series it was time to get a sweat on. XC racing was always going to feature but I’d been toying with various formats. This time we chose short course , a criterium, multiple laps and, to make it a bit more painful, an endurance test. How many laps could you do in an hour? In homage to real XC racing and to make everyone a bit less comfortable, I made Lycra mandatory with bonus points available for the most garish combo and double points for anyone bringing a turbo trainer. Check out the horrors on show below (click to make bigger)!
At 5 o’clock on Tuesday evening Si Choppin and Dave James met me in Endcliffe park at the spot where we usually race dual. It’s an ideal area of the park as it’s wooded, on a hill and not used for anything else other than walking dogs. I’d ordered half a kilometer of tape off EBay to mark out the course and recycled a load more from a Midlands series race in Dronfield a few weeks ago. I had a rough idea of where I wanted to course to go, taking in as much gradient change as possible and making up lanes between the trees for best use of the tape.
We pieced together what became quite a challenging course. A long dragging hill to start and, half way up, the start-finish lanes for lap counting, this took the riders up to the highest point. From here there was a fast descent into a natural leaf filled gulley which funneled you through a hole in a holy bush which rutted up beautifully later in the race. Popping out of the rut you needed commitment to not slam in to the large log and stump on the right hander which followed. The next section of the course took in a short sharp climb with a dog-shit tech feature on the left to be avoided. This set you up for a tight right hander in to a steep chute with another tight right at the bottom, this developed in to a nice little cut line later in the race. Then we were back to the climbing, a long drag all the way to the top of the hill. Dave suggested a lovely little feature which was a log across track at the top, a killer element which was removed by rider ballot later in the race. From here the course snaked up and down the hill a couple more times through loose drifty corners until it hit a tight, tech, chicane. The final descent brought the riders back to the start of the lap and a return to the burn. We also happened to run out of tape.
The race started in a Le Mans style on the grass adjacent to the woods. After a quick race briefing and asking a few lasses if they’d mind moving over a bit, we all left our bikes at the bottom of the hill and walked back to the top. With a ‘Marks, set, go’ the 26 starters were off and legging it, elbow to elbow. Turning the bikes the right way up, Matt Hunt was somehow first back in to the woods on his new 29’r. Rich Baybutt was left well behind trying to readjust to clips. I got a flyer of a start and was first at the top of the first climb managing to keep the lead until Si Choppin took me on the second climb. After 4 laps I asked Henry Norman and Adela Carter, who were kind enough to help out counting laps, how long we’d been going. Rather than the 40 minutes I was expecting, we’d been riding for less than 20. Shit. The lap was a lot shorter than I’d thought, about 4 minutes.
As the race continued we had a few early exits. Shane and Irwin both gave up after only 6 laps, sitting at the side looking a bit sick. Shane got back in the saddle after a good rest and bashed out a few more. Rob Stokes managed a total of 9 laps with much walking up of hills, then gave up and did what he does best. Heckle. Amongst the big lads the race for the win was between series leader Swinny and XC specialist, Si Choppin. Chop loves a bit of pain and suffering and his continued grimace as he kept lapping me showed just what a good time he was having. Swinny kept pace with him though looking amazing in his GB Onesie. He was hampered in the latter stages by a slow rear puncture, nothing his brute power couldn’t cope with though but he just couldn’t catch Chop. They both managed 21 laps in the hour along with Martin Baker who also came in to his own. Steve Taylor came in 4th with 20 laps and Hanna Jonsson was the first lady home with a great 16 laps. Neil Hunt took home the bonus points for best lycra in a lovely matching ‘Mapei’ road set although it was a very close call. Chop took first dibs on the prize pile and everyone else followed suit with a load cheer and clap all round. With all the formalities out of the way it was off to the Lescar to rehydrate.
So to the Series standings, Swinny is still sitting pretty at the top of the table, steadily extending his lead. With two poor performances in the last two events Mini Swinny, Will, has moved down a place letting me push up in to second spot. The rest of the top 5 remains relatively stable, but Si Chops first Win of the series catapults him 29 spots up the rankings in to 14th. Dave James also takes a leap up the points from 52nd to 31st. Katie Hallam is leading the Lasses race for victory with Hanna and Liz Bowman equal 2nd with 16 points.
The Series Standings
|Position||Name||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Round 4||Round 5||Total|
The Next race will be a Hill Climb double header, a balls out peddle and a super tech height gain challenge. Watch out for details in the Calender.