Saturday, 21 July 2007

National Mountain bike champs win

What a week! On Wednesday I drove to Chelmer cycles for a (routine?) service to get my bikes perfect for the National champs. At 15:30 the eagle eyed mechanics there spotted a hairline crack in the frame of the Taurine bike i was planning to race at the weekend. It was a prototype model and has been thrown around so many planes by baggage handlers this year, crashed multiple times at Mountain Mayhem and thrashed (sorry tested) by Single track magazine. It was too late to dispatch a new frame from Holland that day and i was leaving at 9:00 on the Friday for Plymouth. The best bike shop in the world put other work on hold and stripped down a stock bike to get me moving again by Thursday evening. I battled with rush hour traffic round the M25 for a second day in succession (8 hours on that road in 2 days!) and arrived home exhausted but relieved to have a bike at 21:00 Thursday evening.
Friday saw major flooding and we feared we wouldn't even make it there, especially after the car hit a huge puddle and ripped the mud flap off, making a massive noise.
Things got better from here luckily. I was happy with the fast, dry (some how!) course with hard climbs. As long as had a fast start I was quietly confident.
Not being gridded on the front row didn't help and a mistake by the rider in front of me left me in about 25th place at the foot of the 1st climb. I took a bit of a risk and rode on a really rough tricky line up into 3rd place by the top of it. Smiling to my self through the pain, I knew I was on a good day! Halfway round the first lap I was still in this position and feeling comfortable. I looked at who was in the lead group and decided I'd see who was strong. A minute later I was on my own, this wasn't the plan, but i thought I'd ride hard but steady and see who came back. At the start of the treacherous 'Mine shaft' descent I was joined by Matt Barratt and Jamie Newall. I rode this really well (especially considering the mess i'd made of it on both practice laps the day before) and was on my own again at the bottom. From here it was a solitary ride for 4 laps. I honestly can say it was one of the best races of my life. I paced myself perfectly on every climb. I was never close to crashing and rode good lines all the time. My hastily built bike was perfect all race. The tyre choice of Schwalbe Smart Sam (rear) and Jimmy (front) was perfect. I never missed a bottle of Maximuscle drink. If every race went like this i'd be very happy.
On the last lap I toyed with the idea of doing an extra lap so i could compare my final time in the Masters with the elite winners. I certainly felt fast enough to be in the top 5, where I used to finish when I raced the Elite Nationals, this idea was forgotten as I decided to savour the moment and my first National Champs jersey (In a few hours you can bet I'll on time laps website adding my slowest lap time to my finishing time to see roughly where i'd have placed in Elite). I was really happy for my best mate Jamie Newall who finished second, I know he'd wanted to win, and if it wasn't my day i'm glad it would have been him winning.
Now it is back on with major run and swim training. 4 weeks until Xterra Denmark and then it is all go with Austria, Germany, UK and France Xterra's all within 6 weeks. Followed by my major build for the world champs in Hawaii. May be i'll treat my self to a few beers tonight, before i forget one of the best races of my life.....