After a 4 rounds of the WMCCL coming in the top five in every race, I was confident I had the protential to do well, but top 20 would be the target, there were a few riders I knew on the start line that would challenge me including Chris Rathborn who has won some of the midland xc races and Greg Simcock who I have raced against at the XC nationals and in the Scottish round he got a well deserved podium in 3rd and I followed in 4th, my best in the Series. He got 5th in cross national series last year , so this is his thing.
Preparation is always key to these races from arriving on time to pre riding the course and checking the bikes over adjusting the tire choice, and gear setups before the day.
I spent an hour pre riding the course working on my lines, it was mostly just moist and not too slippy and I had my new set of Carbon deep section 50mm wheels with Dugust Rihno tyres which were perfect for the course I was told, the senior rider from wheelbase was suggesting 20psi but he looked a lot lighter than me, the first few laps I tried 30psi then put them down to 25psi rear 23psi front .
The race day came and Josh and I turned up at 8 with the race starting at 10.30am so we could prepare, the atmosphere was electric with everyone checking there bikes and pre riding the course.
Turbo session was due at 9.30am so 30min was spent warming up at the side of the van, there was a chill but a good bit of sun to cheer us all up.
At 10am I made my way down to the start line and got gridded in the 5th row 32nd better than I thought but I needed a really good start. As the countdown went and we were off the guy in front stalled and his chain came off which stopped me dead ,I got passed him and sprinted on the left before the right corner to get 15th through the finish area at the end of the road section.
The race was very fast paced and went well but I struggled keeping my speed up as It was really wet and slippy after last nights rain, and I was slipping all over the place as it got cut up more and more, lower pressures on the tires might have helped I don’t know, I spoke to
Paul Oldham the hope rider and he said if its slippy it will be the same for all, but I just could not get a eally good rythem up and more speed out , the leaders were only 3min ahead so about a 3rd of a lap , a really good start would have done me better as in cross you generally hold your position and you all race together. I had 2 offs one at the top of the arena area after the mud bath that got cut out for the seniors race?? And the other on the swooping bank by the finish area throwing my chain but I did not loose my position and carried on. I had a large group chasing me down on the last lap so had to focus to cross the line in18th but that has changed to 19th on the BC website?
Pictures by Josh Popham