Sunday was my first XCO(Cross-Country Olympic style) race this season and I was really excited about racing the Mud Sweat and Gears series as the races are always really well organised and there is always lots of people to cheer you on!
My Mum had also decided to try her first ever cross-country race which added to the excitement!
We arrived at Henham Park at 7.50, collected our number boards and headed out on the practise lap. Mum had never been on ‘singletrack’ so I had to coach her down a few parts, but I was very proud of the way she handled some of the steeper descents and also obstacles such as logs which she roll over with ease. Well done Mum!
The course was a mixture of fire roads and twisty singletrack through the trees. It was fun and not technical but had one ‘A’ ‘B’ line, where I actually think the off camber ‘B’ line was, in ways harder than the straight down ‘A’ line.
After course practise we had a short amount of time so I went off to warm up, during this time I accidentally managed to ride into a tape barrier which was lying on the floor, which pulled me off my bike quite harshly leaving my left side felt rather battered and bruised. Not the best start!
We gridded just before 10. As I stood on the start line my mind was full of thoughts about the race and the training I had put in over the winter, had it been enough? We stood on the start for a good 10 mins whilst everyone was gridded and my muscles became cold.
As I sprinted off the line I got a pretty good start and was happy with my place going into the first bend. Power endurance has never been my strong point and I soon felt like I had to slow down to recover.
Getting cold had really affected me as my first lap felt like my warm up and it wasn’t until my second and third laps when I felt I was starting to gain on the leading group.
On my second lap I passed Mum just after the only ‘A’ ‘B’ line in the course and she said she had a tumble, but seemed in high spirits so I carried on but felt a bit concerned if she had hurt herself badly.
My the last lap I was feeling really good and crossed the line feeling like I could have done another lap even though I had been working at the top end of what I’m capable of, I felt like I had more to give. I wad relived to see Mum had finished and was smiling!
I finished fourth which I am pleased with and after analysing my results from last year can see that my fitness and pace have improved.
My next race is the Nationals in Plymouth which is going to be my first ever Nationals at elite level. I know this is going to be a tough challenge and feel very excited about the opportunity to race alongside some of the best riders in the country!
Thanks to Bike Fixers for keeping my bike in tip-top condition, to Dog Tag for supporting my Pedal 2 Pedal racing team, to Grip Grab for the best gloves and over shoes and Silverback for my awesome bike!
Words - Hannah Attenburrow
Full race results can be found via Root and Rain - RootsandRain.com
For further details of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Series check out their website - www.MudSweatGears.co.uk