We started racing early today. Adel was off at 9.30 so we got there in plenty of time to get practice laps in. It also meant we finished early although it has taken until now (7pm) to be able to write this. Quite often things happen in racing that you have no control over. Be it a mechanical or a crash that wasn’t quite your fault normally you dust yourself and learn from it. However; sometimes something happens completely out of your control and you can’t learn from it, make it better or change it. That is the worst feeling ever and that is exactly how I’m feeling now.
After our practice laps and seeing Adel cross the finish line, winning her category we headed out to warm up. I felt pretty tired but I was really looking forward to getting stuck into a proper xco course. It had brutal climbs and loose steep descents. It would test the skills to the max that’s for sure.
Before the start we congregate in gridding boxes. Each box has a list of numbers of the riders who should be in that box. I dutifully found mine and waited nervously to be called up to the start. As I’ve had a couple of testing stages I was next from last to be called to the line. The commissarie shouted my number and waved me through.
I didn’t get the best start but quickly started to move up. Instead of a first lap we had an extended start loop to spread the riders out. I settled into a good postion with the girls I had been racing on the 2nd stage before my little upsets. I was pushing hard and beginning to settle into the pace. As I came round to begin the first lap an official stopped me on course and pulled me out in the 80% zone (This is where lapped riders are pulled out of the race). I couldn’t understand it; you never get pulled on the start loop. When I questioned him he told me the commissarie had given him a list of numbers not meant to be on the course. There was my number with a big DNS next to it. I just couldn’t get my head round it, so he told me to go and see the officials.
That I did. I asked him why I had been pulled so early. He told me I’d not been in the gridding box so that counted as a DNS and I shouldn’t have been in the race. There were also two other riders in the same position. I explained I was in the box and began to get rather upset. I have had a testing couple of days and finally when I was going well I was stopped. He was pretty adamant he was right and I knew I was right as I’d definitely been in the box. This continued for some time with both of convinced we were right then finally he looked at his start sheet again.
“Oh sh&@, I’m so sorry” were the words I heard. I had been in the correct place; I shouldn’t have been pulled out of the race. First I felt relief that I wasn’t wrong but then I was just so cross. It’s not cheap to travel over here and I wanted to race. I didn’t really care about the result but I wanted to pit myself against the best xc racers and see how I did on a proper xco course. Now I don’t know how I would have done. I got an apology and have been put on the results as finishing 4 laps down in 37th. This isn’t true, I didn’t finish 4 laps down I was told to stopped. I might have lasted the whole race; I might have got my best place of the week or I may have crashed again but I would’ve liked that chance to find out.
Now I’ve had time to think about it, I understand people make mistakes but it’s how they handle it that really counts. Was it really necessary to pull me out of the race, could they not have investigated once we had finished? If I’d been a higher place rider would I still have been pulled? I doubt I’ll ever have answers. I’ll just have to dust myself off and look to the next race.
It’s been a great week and it’s so sad to end it on a bad note. Cyprus is a gorgeous country and the race has been tough but fun. I’ve spent it with some great friends who also happen to be awesome bike riders. I’m now looking forward to more adventures in 2016.
Annie Last 27th
Verity Appleyard 34th
Maxine Filby 37th
Adel Tyson Bloor 1st
Grant Ferguson 29th
Jason Bouttell 31st
Phillip Pearce 43rd
Calum Riley DNF
A full list of results from stage 4 can be found here
Words: Maxine Filby (Cannondale Girls)
All Images courtesy of Tom Broyd