Today saw the second round of the Soggy Bottom mountain bike cross-country series. I arrived to a bright and sunny Newnham park to be greeted by two young army cadets marshaling the road crossing at the bottom of cottage return, a couple of riders passed not looking too muddy, Today was going to be fast!
As the vets race started in the afternoon, I missed the earlier races. After checking the results, it became apparent that once again the Mid Devon youngsters had done well in their races. Felix Faun achieved a third place in under 12s with a 4th place for Oliver Allen and an 8th place for Ross Pratt in the youth category.
My race (Vets, Grand vets) was due to start at 1pm. I had just enough time to go for a pre ride. I joined Southforks Pete Dawe and Nick Butler. Also in the group was Lee Hayward from BikeMotion. We set off. It was going to be a mass start again so we tried the field out for sprinting, It was obvious the best place to be was on the hard pack road along side it. The course consisted of lots of single track with short sections of fire road for overtaking.
On the start line I pitched up next to another MDCC rider, John Newbold. The whistle blew and off we went….. I managed to ignore my previous idea of getting on the hard pack quickly and lost quite a few places. The course narrowed and the lesser skilled riders who had sprinted on the hard pack caused an enormous bottle neck. Anyone who knows me will be able to imagine the level of “French” that was coming out of my mouth at this point!! Anyway I kept on pushing and managed to close the gap that the lead group were making.
We blasted past the portacabin that would be the finish point. Again, one of the ‘only fast on the flat’ guys pushed past and then immediately got in the way at the bottom of the first climb. He held everyone up so badly that when we reached the top (where you could overtake) the lead group were well out of sight. I got onto the single track and made a huge lead on the chasing group. This section consisted of lots of twisty flat corners covered in roots of which 30-40% were greasy.
After this it was cottage return, a very fast single track descent that is in my opinion one of the best sections at Newnham. I smashed down it like my hair was on fire. The rest of the race was pretty uneventful and as much as I pushed the delay caused by the riders at the beginning had ruined my chances of a top 5. I rode over the finish line in 10th position. Not too bad but some work on my initial sprint starting will definitely help for next time.
I went and found John to find out how he had done, His race was 3 laps and mine 4 so he was already finished. John had come 4th in grand vets and was a bit peeved as a crash on cottage return had lost him a couple of places meaning he was pipped to the podium.
Overall it was a great event and made better by some support from fellow MDCC riders and their families. I’m already looking forward to round three.