Cross Country Mountain Bike Racing is awesome! Race organisers the length and breadth of this fair isle have just about perfected the ideal way to spend a Sunday with the kids. Don't believe me?? Well, just ask Pedal 2 Pedal's Seb (and Fred) Price.
Following quickly on the heels of the excellent Brass Monkeys Enduro Series, Gorrick got the xc season underway with their very popular Spring Series.These follow a similar format to the Southern XC series with ability, age and children’s category races. They differ in the format of the kids races though. These are typically held on the main adult course with the youngest categories, the u11s and u13s racing a single big ¾ lap, and upwards from there for older children. In addition, the adult’s technical features and A/B lines are all in for the kids race, so the skill level is up a little on other kids races. In line with all this, the minimum age to race is 8.
Fred and I (Seb/Dad) raced the opening series round on the excellent Crowthorne course. Fred raced in the u11s race. I had raced here in Sport before and had an unfortunate dnf following a slashed tyre. This time I was in my first ever Vet race, but I was under no illusions that Vet means slower and hoped that I’d done enough over the winter to get a top-half finish.
Fred was up first. He had an awful start and missed his pedal! Getting on with it he caught a couple of riders by the top of the uphill start, then another few at the bottom of the fireroad descent. Heading into the singletrack, Fred kept in touch with a few similar paced boys and settled into the race. At the first A/B line choice, Fred wisely chose the B line over the big bombhole descent. We’ll come back another day and practise that one! The rest of the ¾ lap course had smaller bombholes, short steep climbs, lots of singletrack and a nice flowy feel. Fred stuck in, and finally finished on 39minutes and 10th place – exhausted! Fred loved the course and for most of the race was racing closely with the 9th place boy. The step-up in distance and course ability from the Southern’s was noticeable though and a bit of a shock to the system. Fred is keen for the next one though, so roll on round 2!
I was next up in vets. I lined up on the 2nd row, but really I had no idea what of anyone’s pace was likely to be. The starts at Crowthorne are always particularly fast as they have a downhill fireroad stretch. Sprinting off the start I was roughly mid-pack by the bottom of the descent and into the LH bend where the climb starts. It felt like I’d forgotten to breath, and suddenly I was gasping whilst trying to smash it up the climb….breath, calm down, breath….! Hitting the first singletrack calmed things down a bit and I started to relax. The first technical section and A line went smoothly, despite my kids shouts to do a big jump, and then the rest of the lap flowed quite well. I was picking off riders towards the 2nd half of the first lap, but unsure of my place as some were masters not vets. The 2nd and 3rd laps were a little quieter as the field spread out. I tried to keep it consistent, same gear for each hill as lap 1, keep the cadence up and flow the technical sections despite the tiredness. Finally I came in 23rd out of 52 on 1hr28mins. Yay – top half! That will do for my first Vet race. Lots to improve on, but happy enough for now.
Words - Seb Price