After having such an icy winter I spent quite a bit of time out on the mountain bike instead of the road bike and although having had my mountain bike for nearly four years this was the first time that I had actually used the thing properly!
Then one evening while browsing twitter I saw a tweet by Chris Ware saying that he had entered “Round 1 of the Midlands XC” race at Leicestershire’s Hicks Lodge Trail Centre. That set the cogs rolling and I thought “what the hell lets have a go!!” So I entered and when I realised that I would not be in the same race as Chris (as he was now in the Vet’s class!) wondered what had I done and let myself in for!!!
So the nerves were slowly kicking in and by race day was eager to get the experience over with. I got to Hicks Lodge at around 10:30am (my race was not until 2pm!) so went off to see Chris racing in the morning race. A beautiful sunny day, fast drying trails, the previous day’s rain was quickly forgotten. The majority of the course was on hard pack and the remainder was on what could only be described as boggy at best! Chris was on his 3rd lap when I saw him and he looked a little whacked as did a lot of the other racers. I shouted some friendly abuse and watched him disappear to complete his 4th and final lap.
He finished with a sigh of “that was hard work!” and he looked like he had pushed hard. He had enjoyed it though and said I would like the course… We shall see I thought!!
The course was now open for the afternoon competitors to recce before the race at 2pm. So off I set and I did love the hard pack and jumps, however I was super slow on the boggy bits! Half way round I picked up a puncture on the rear and with only 20 minutes to go had a panicked run back to HQ to get it fixed!!! Just what I needed!
Eventually got it sorted (not without some stress!) and arrived on the start line with only a couple of minutes to spare. The Elite and Expert classes went off first and then next it was our (Masters) turn, my nerves had really started to build! Something that I had not felt in a long while and to be honest I had missed.
5-4-3-2-1 GO!!!! Jesus Christ!!! Full whack from the off….. big ring spinning and sat in 3rd/4th place. Surely we cant keep this pace up!!! Then we rounded the top corner and hit the first boggy section……. BOOM!!! I almost stopped and pulled my right foot out of the cleat I was pulling on my pedal that hard!! Expletives Expletives and more Expletives!!! There must have been twenty riders that sailed past and my heart just sank!! I learned later that having nearly 80 psi in your tyres does not help!! Rookie error!!! I tried to settle into a steady rhythm and although going well still kept losing places on the boggy stuff!! I did enjoy some of the jumps as it gave some small respites and I was so glad to see the fifth and final lap 🙂 Hats off to some of the winners, some real class riding and I still don’t understand how they go so fast on the boggy bits!
The organisation was excellent and the marshals encouraging so a big thanks to both Leicestershire Road Club and Midlands XC.
Midlands XC Series 2012, Round 1 Hicks Lodge from X Trail Films on Vimeo.
- Elite Men – 1st Gareth Montgomerie 2nd Dave Henderson 3rd Ryan Henry
- Elite Women – 1st Maxine Filby 2nd Joanne Clay 3rd Ruth Owen-Evans