A completely topsy-turvy weekend for me. Setting off later than I’d hoped on the hours journey to Stanmer Park. Stunningly clear skies, quiet roads – even the M25 – and the rad Red Hot Chili Peppers new album blasting out.
I’d chilled out a bit after Friday night, and was really looking forward to working with the amazing bunch of ladies in the tea tent. Nicky and Mandy, two of my seriously favourite hard working ladies. They give their all to this event, as well as what ever else they turn their hand too. I’d just like to say how proud I am of both of them.
Sorting stuff out with the other team tent lovelies as we decorated, cut cake and organised the volunteers lunch bags was priority, then greeting fellow ‘dog handlers’ and other vendors – namely the Morvelo crew, and my landlord Jon in the Vittoria tent.
As the morning drew on, I wondered if I’d be able to borrow a bike from someone to do a lap, and until I approached the lovely Matt Carr, it was looking rather unlikely. However, he introduced me to James and Jason at Ubyk, who agreed to lend me one of the beautiful Santa Cruz mountain bikes.
It took a while to get organised as Nicky agreed to go around with me and she had left her bike behind. However when I went back to talk to the guys about which bike I could use, they told me I could use the stunning Santa Cruz cx bike. I questioned the gears, but it was too cool to say no to!
Riding a cx bike at a mtb race. Mad? Maybe. Cool? Well, a load of people loved it, after telling me I was mad/brave*
*delete as appropriate
Eventually we were ready, and set off together through the start line in the grassy bowl at the lowest point of the course. As soon as we started climbing, I was down to 2nd lowest gear, puffing away like a steam train, wondering if riding a cx bike was a great idea! Up and up, through the grass, up and into the woods, dappled shade hiding the tree roots as I tackled the with all the skillz of a novice rider. Then, crippling stomach ache for five minutes, thankfully it passed as it felt awful. Some bits I had to walk, as I didn’t quite have the gears/ skillz/ or didn’t want to damage this rather gorgeous bike. The first bit was without doubt the hardest, with me holding up the one person who genuinely didn’t mind (although she wanted to get back to the tea tent!!).
The singletrack and roots didn’t really pose a problem and I soon learnt to adjust, probably being over cautious, but it wasn’t my bike to damage! Some bits were hard, and a couple of corners got the better of me (one uphill, where I actually squeaked then burst out laughing). Suddenly we were high above the road on the bridge, then down and into a cracking run the other side (again, some bits I had to walk!) Then onto the bridge and up and up. Where the surface was loose in places, I found that climbing was hard as I span out a few times. I also had to remember how to redistribute my weight so it didn’t affect it so much. Then suddenly there were logs! Hadn’t really thought about that, and managed to skirt the first one before telling myself to MTFU and get on with it. Funnily enough, I tackled the rest without a problem!
The tail end of the lap, I ended walking down a couple of bits after guys fell off a few meters in front of me, before winding through some trees and suddenly finding a massive drop and a few people stood there. I hesitated as I couldn’t figure out where the track went and decided to wait until someone came down and rode it in front of me. Then I could see, and without managing to clip in, rode straight after him and out into the grass bit of the finish whooping like a kid.
It was epic. I may have been a bit mental to ride a slightly unsuitable bike, but it handled a lot more of the course than I felt it had any right to do. I also managed to drop off the back behind the saddle a couple of times when required, which isn’t as easy as it sounds when you hit a corner load of tree roots! But I think my laughs along the way said it all. I was over the moon to get around and Nicky was excellent enough to wait for me a lot.
Reluctantly I had to hand the bike back, and get changed, before going back to the glorious job of washing up and drying!
Beer pouring fell to me and Mandy, with beer hand ups being done by Rory ‘The Big Dog Himself’ Hitchens and crew as the last few riders finished, before we helped with the podium presentations.
Gutted I couldn’t stay for the celebrations, but grass track was calling.
Sunday 14th Green Arrow grasstrack at Hertford
I left later than intending, having not slept too well again, and promptly got stuck on the M25 for over an hour. I did finally get there, tired, fidgety and not in the best frame of mind. Wondering if my legs were up to it.
Phil kindly lent me his Fuji, and he rode his Holdsworth. A few minor tweaks and I set out for a few warm up laps, immediately feeling that rubbish hollow feeling in my legs as I did a few quiet laps. I had absolutely nothing, but hoped with doing a bit more, that I would be OK.
The men’s races were up first, and we had plenty to cheer on with Rob, Phil, Steve, Alex, Matt and Tom riding, along with Sally and also Steve’s young daughter Safiya.
I lined up for the 3km scratch race and started fairly well, before being dropped on the first half of the lap. I pushed on for another two before my right thigh started cramping up and I pulled out. I was pretty outclassed and rather tired, which combined to make me rather grumpy. After figuring out we had a break for a bit whilst the men’s National 8km was on, I decided to eat some lunch. Only for a very strange feeling.
My back molar had fallen apart.
After that, and figuring out my financial implications of another visit to the dentist, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and with my leg aching and my tooth sore. I decided to get changed and pull out.
Not my finest hour and I spent the rest of the day mentally kicking myself and feeling like a twat. Being so unfit was not a help either. Something I need to work on as it was quite frankly embarrassing.
But I had a great time cheering on my friends. With most of them picking up top threes in one event or the other. Rather proud of Tom and Matt at their first grasstrack event! Both picking up prizes for top three in different events.
Laugh of the day: Matt actually fell over, then Alex, after trying to teach me how to track stand the other week, eliminating himself after he rolled into a hole.