|Lap 1 and sorting it out|
After adding more layers and stocking up the pits we set off for a reccé. It soon became evident that this round might be more of a war of attrition rather than pure racing? The switchbacks were so deep in mud that you almost came to a standstill. The hilly sections were a real test of skill and your bikes traction and the lake side straight was a test of balance, get it wrong and you were swimming.
After two practice laps I decided that some sections would be quicker if they were ran.
Just prior to the 1pm start the commissaire began the griding which in the wet and cold was a surprisingly good humoured affair especially the boo'ing of those choosing mountain bikes to tackle the race.
We get the 30 seconds to go and the bang we're off. Within yards I'm floored by a muppet that decides to sweep across the entire width of the circuit. I mutter some profanities I carry on, passing him on pure adrenalin. As usual Stuart has got off to a good start and I see his green shoulders disappear over the first hill. Rob though is right with me and we stay together for the first lap. We yo-yo along and run the quagmire on the longest hilly section. Then when it gets firmer Rob puts the power down and moves off.
I soon find my sweet spot on the course, a long flattish very wet section where I could drop some gears and press on. I used it to over take knowing that getting past later on would take herculean efforts.
I managed each lap very well, staying upright unlike many others. I was also learning the circuit and getting my timings right for all the technical sections. As I was settling in I started to wonder what had happened to Stuart and Rob as I'd not seen them since the first few laps. I wondered if they were even still in the race? Then halfway through my final lap I saw Stuart on one of the switchback sections, he was going well. So I assumed Rob must be up ahead and just not in view. I had also closed down on a friend from the Archer RC and was behind him on my favourite section so I tried to get past, but he was stubbornly strong and it was proving hard. So I threw it down a gear, gripped the drops and pushed back into the saddle and pressed. It worked, the speed built up and I went past and took another rider as a bonus.
So it was over and I rolled down the finish chute a happy man, unlike Rob. It was clear right away that there was something wrong. Gashed leggings, a clean top and white trainers! He had come off early on and his STI's had taken the brunt of the fall and were not operating, so game over.
Stuart then came home a lap up.
|Stuart on a mission|