Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sarah: MK National Trophy

My third foray in to the world of National Trophy 'cross racing was in many ways similar to my previous two outings; race preparations began a good twenty four hours before the racing itself and the car, once more, managed to accommodate an impossible amount of kit! Who needs to use their interior mirror after all?!

I set off with Chris, a friend from my course whose knowledge of bikes would be an absolute life safer come race day. We made the journey South where I was lucky enough to stay with Chris's family in their quintessentially Southern cottage. The house itself was beautiful and I was made to feel incredibly at home - it was the perfect pre-race base.

Race day didn't get off to the best of starts, after a minor issue with Chris's land rover; it didn't start! When you're in a rush, the million and one roundabouts which constitute Milton Keynes are not ideal. Nevertheless we arrived at the 'Bowl' with what seemed like enough time to run through all of the neccesary pre-race procedures...
Photo by Richard Bennett 
This day was particularly exciting because Tony at the Bicycle Repair Man had arranged for Jamie Brady to deliver my new Ridley X-Fire to Milton Keynes. It was lovely to get my hands on it but I couldn't enjoy the moment quite as much as I would have wanted to. With less than an hour til the whistle the gears needed indexing to work with my tubs. Obviously I am useless with bikes and I wouldn't have been able to remedy the gears in time for the Bradford National Trophy in two weeks time never mind the Milton Keynes race! Thankfully though, Chris and Jamie are magicians when it comes to this sort of thing and before long they had my bike primed, fitted and ready to go. For that I am really, really grateful!

With so much to do, I didn't have time to do a warm up or recce the course. Two big no-no's when it comes to racing cross. My lack of course knowledge and warm up meant that it probably wasn't the best of ideas to move up to a space on the front row of the grid. But I did it anyways. And I didn't stop then, this was undoubtedly my best start in the National Trophy so far - I heard the whistle, clipped in straight away and powered the new Ridley up to third place. Again not the best of ideas. It was amazing to be mixing it up at the front but I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing. The first corner came as a surprise but I managed to maintain my position up the hill. I wasn't quite so fortunate in the stairs however which came as an even bigger surprise, I didn't know I had to get of my bike so I basically stopped. On top of this, I didn't have the best of clip ins at the top. Such is the level of racing in the national trophy that this small technical mistake saw me drop back two or three places.
At this I eased back and rode to consolidate my position. I simply tried to cling on and ride a sensible race; despite this I did have a number of falls. I was so happy to hear the bell, it gave me a new lease of life to know that the suffering would soon be over. In fact it gave me such a boost that I'm pretty sure my last lap was my second fastest lap. I came home in 6th, one better than I managed in Durham, I was very happy with that especially considering that this was my first ride on my new bike and I hadn't warmed up. I'm looking forward to building on this result and hopefully improving on my performance come Bradford in two weeks time.  

I just want to finish by saying thank you to Chris's family for their hospitality and Chris in particular for his technical assistance on race day. I'm also indebted to Jamie and my cxmagazine teammates, Ted and Steve, who made my bikes ride-able. Without them I couldn't have raced so thank you very much! I'd also like to say thank you to Steve and Heather for putting on some top-notch post-race grub - the eggy crumpets were very welcome and went down lovely! I'll bring the sausages for Bradford!

And as ever, i'm very grateful for the all of the help i've received from everyone at - if anyone's after a discoutned digital subscription get in touch!

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