I decided to enter myself in the FNSS round at the Milton Keynes Bowl, one of those good ideas at the time sort of things. Though as Friday evening drew closer I started to get nervous and wondered if I was doing the right thing. I was worried that I was about to be totally humiliated by a bunch of skinny race whippets.
A few hours later it was too late to turn back, I was in the race car park heading off to register. Minutes later with the bike all numbered up I went out for a practice lap.......Oh my God, that really is off camber, wet off camber. It was hard to beleive I was in Milton Keynes.
7.00pm and counting down to the start, the seniors have set off before us vets, thank God. A few minutes later and we're off, Jesus it's hard already!
I don't want to be at the back. At the top of the first climb I take a peek over my shoulder and I'm delighted the field is split in two big time, and I'm in the first group. The lap goes on and I'm already feeling it, however I manage to pass some other riders and I've stayed on the bike.
The second lap is caning me. So I settle in behind some riders just happy not to loose places, a technical or puncture would be very welcome right now! By now the short hills and off camber singletrack is unrideable. So taking a leaf from my old cross days, I jump off and start running. I mentally pat myself on the back for all the cross country running I've been doing lately. It's that, that keeps me in contention with the faster on the flat riders.
Lap three and I'm feeling good, so I tell myself to work harder. Burying myself and running the climbs and off camber sections see's me past the few riders I was keeping an eye on. Then another falls in front of me on the last lap, so another place gained. Now it's just head down and over the line. It's a good feeling, just dampened by the first seniors lapping me as well as the rain.
The finish. I'm absolutely buzzing as well as cold wet and coughing up mud and grass. When's the next one? Looking back, the bad weather was a disadvantage to the fast race guys otherwise I'm sure we would have been lapped far sooner. Mud and rain the great leveler.
From now on I'll be keeping an eye out for anymore xc races. I think I may have the bug.