Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Nat Trophy Round 2 - Southampton - Smalesy

Six for the price of's not catchy like BOGOF is it? But that's the deal with the National Trophy. Enter the series as a whole and you get one event free. The reality for us northerners is that actually the event we get free is the one that we'd most likely not ride anyway...Southampton. So far away, it's virtually France.

With family commitments meaning that I'd had no prospect of competition the previous weekend, and Ted being desperate to ride, I kind of reluctantly enthusiastically agreed we'd ride as I'm not really properly dialed in yet. 

After diligently going to bed at 9pm the previous evening, I managed the sum total of about four hours sleep before a 4am alarm, as there's nothing worse than being under pressure to sleep. A 5am pickup for Ted and then a fast run down south to hopefully arrive at Southampton in time for a couple of practice laps.

By about Nottingham, the tiredness had hit. Horrible headache and eyes that felt like they were going to explode. With Heather unrousable asleep across the back seat I was forced to ask Ted to drive on his third party insurance before we made an unscheduled, very sudden stop....

After another two hours of nodding dog hell we arrived safely and were straight into it. Pit gear out, bikes out, sign on and ride the course with ted. An utterly average course which is actually another way of saying, a well rounded and designed course. Some tarmac, some up, some down, some off camber, some woods and a pair of OMG MASSIVE boards. Pressures were......soft, as in super soft with the rear folding in the tighter turns. I felt sluggish, tired. 

Gridding didn't particularly go my way, with a start as far back as I've been for a while...possibly due to  missing out on points at Abergavenny and not really riding regionally very much yet this season. But perhaps things might work better for me here with a heavy, uphill start. But it's an ill wind that blows no good, and it was cool to line up for in colours next to Ted. It was also nice to be within chatting distance of Paul Lehan from Harrogate Nova (my home club), despite me knowing that he'd be gunning for me all race.

Bang, and off we went. Clipped in first time and for the first time for a while, I remembered to hit the nitrous button with my front wheel bouncing on the squidgy front tyre. Out of the woods and that was it the race was formed really. Two front groups, and then dribs and drabs.

I think in hindsight my race was shaped by a couple of factors. Firstly, I've not got properly confident yet this season, the confidence I need to throw caution to the wind early in the race at a point before I've really learnt the course. There were a couple of situations early in the race where had I had more confidence, I could have made a gap by just staying off the brakes and taking a calculated risk, partly me being risk averse, partially due to not having sufficient time to do a hot lap in practice. 

About three laps in, half distance, it really became a case of being on my own with a group of about four or five, including Paul chasing me through the numerous 180degree turns about fifteen seconds down. I noticed that I could manage the gap by burying myself on the non technical parts and then riding wide around slippery corners.

And that was that really, taking no unnecessary risks, trying to stay smooth and keeping enough pressure on in the right places to stay away. The only glitch came when I entered the pits to find Heather stood at the other side and I had to take a running penalty on the downhill side. I was then forced to take a bike on the uphill pit where I ended up having to run some distance.

Oh yeah, I also arsended a lapped rider who failed a steep in front of me when I was fully committed. It's only flesh, it'll heal.....

With half a lap to go, I knew I was safe from the chasers despite one shouting 'come on guys, we've nearly got him' and was able to throttle back and cruise safely to the line.

29th.....a couple of points and not a bad delivery.

So back to the van, a hot shower, inspect my bumps and scrapes, wash the bikes properly and then M1 north with a post race McRecovery Happy Meal.

540miles. 16hours later. We were home and wrecked.


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