It’s been a busy few weeks since our last update with Mark racing the World XC Championships in Andorra, Dylan riding the SCOTT MTB Marathon and myself winning the Gorrick 6 hour and Isle of Man End 2 End MTB races.
After the British Cycling Junior team put on a strong performance at the final UCI World Junior Series we had high hopes of Mark performing well at the UCI World XC Championships. “I found the start very hard as I was gridded 55th on the grid but moved forward up into the mid 20s on the opening lap. I paid for the big effort and started to fade. My right leg muscle issue was holding me back again, stopping me producing the power.” Mark has been struggling with a muscle problem most of the year but has bravely battled on. It’s been a frustrating situation for the young riders. “I couldn’t move forward any further but just tried to maintain my position eventually finishing in 30th position. It’s not the result I’d hoped for but it was an experience I can learn from for next season.” The World Champs proved a tough one for Mark but came away with another great result.
Dylan attended the final round of the SCOTT MTB Marathon Series “at a venue only 15 miles from home. Despite its location I’d ridden barely any of the tracks and trails we rode in the event. It was a tough start with a short neutralised section leading straight into a steep road climb, the Bwlch Penbarras, a top 100 road climb in the UK. This meant the selection was made early on with 4 or 5 of us going clear of the rest, this was then whittled down to 3 riders, myself, Nick Craig and Alex Welburn, we rode well together and pulled away. About 45km in Alex had had a mechanic and I was just slipping off Nick's wheel. This left the last 30 plus kilometres to do alone, until my hard weeks training caught up with me and I paid for it big time on the final climb when Alex caught and passed me. I had a wicked day, riding with some great company on some fantastic trails! Thanks to the organisers and I look forward to next year’s series kicking off again in Builth Wells."
After winning the Brighton Big Dog title for a 4th consecutive year, lapping the field at the Gorrick 6 hour on August bank holiday and putting together some good training weeks I was confident going into the Isle of Man End 2 End MTB Race. If you don’t know about the End 2 End MTB Race you should! It’s become a classic in the calendar and this year was its 18th edition. This was our third visit to the race, I was feeling the pressure of being defending champion going into the event and could feel the nerves leading into the event but was really motivated. A repeat victory was my focus. We always enjoy going back to the Isle of Man, it’s a fantastic place to visit. The event itself is very well supported by the local community with loads of spectators out on course, the event organisation is pretty much perfect and the race track is a fantastic mix of trails.
From the start there was a strong head wind making it hard for riders to attack and make a gap, this meant the race would not split until critical points along the track. After the peloton sped along the long road section which is used to spread out the 1000 participants we hit the left hand turn which takes us up a steep offroad climb. By the top of this climb the lead group was down to just 4. With 2 Bikestyle team riders and another Manx resident I felt a little outnumbered. I concentrated on keeping the bike in 1 piece over the rocky trails and staying fuelled with USN drink and gels. Leading many of the descents and rougher sections meant I could pick my lines, the SCOTT Spark doing a great job as usual of keeping me comfortable and saving me energy for the latter stages of the race. The head wind kept us together until the last significant climb where 4 became 3 and then 3 became 2. Nearing the top it was myself and Nick Corlett. Nick attacked but I was stuck to his wheel. As he legs tired, he started to slow. I counter attacked opening up a few meters gap before the right hand turn through the gate and up the last part of the climb. Maintaining a power reading of over 400 watts the gap opened. I hit the following long technical descent on the limit. I held it together eventually reaching the final climb around the spectacular Bradda Head and then down to the finish line on the beach front in Port Erin. What a great feeling to win the Isle of Man End 2 End for a second consecutive year.
The season might be drawing to a close for many but over the next few weeks the Mountain Trax – Vauxhall Cycling Team have 3 races in France and 1 in Portugal.