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Whyte Winter Series Round 1

Before the race

From Friday until I hit the start line I was fit to burst with nervous energy, to the point that it was actually really hard work keeping my mind on anything other than thinking about the race, the hours couldn't tick down quickly enough. The early start (five am) wasn't too bad, I actually got up at quarter to five, made sure I had some breakfast and took some pasta with me to eat an hour before the race started. I already had checked who was racing and found out a little about their previous results where I could but as it was only a fun race I wasn't overly worried about that, I'll worry about it when I'm in the official race categories and have a rough idea of who my competition is based on previous results. Weather was sunny but very cool (around 6 degrees in the shade). Arrived at quarter past nine and the rider area was already very busy.

During the race

Never having ridden flat out from the start of the race it was difficult to decide just how fast to start off. Although this was the fun race, I was treating it as a two lap sprint as a build up to doing the two hour race and also as practice for the team events where we may be using a two lap strategy. Hopefully this would tell me a little about how hard I could push myself, when to back off because the lactic acid was building up in my legs, how quickly my body would recover afterwards and also how to tackle hills during a race...spin up them maintaining a constant speed or sprint up them and then recover at the top (by recover I may actually mean throw up).

The pace from the start was fairly quick, quicker than I was used to, so I sat back in around fourth place to see what happened once we got off the start straight and the rush of adrenalin eased a little when we'd left the crowds behind. After a kilometre people were settling down into a fairly steady pace so I decided to increase the pace a little to see who'd react. I liked being near the front of the race as it felt good to know exactly what your position was in your category for once, rather than not having a clue until you got back to the start\ finish straight. Increasing the speed as we entered the singletrack, there was a long stream of riders behind me and I felt like they were going to try and pass at any moment so when we exited the singletrack and I saw the back of the category ahead of us I put in a spurt to try to get past a few of the slower riders in that category on the fire road. Hopefully this would allow me to cane it to the next little group whilst the rest of my category stuggled passing the slower riders. I managed to pass a dozen riders but then everything stopped as 150 riders all wanted to get onto the same piece of singletrack at the same time...bad maths. We had a wait of about two or three minutes while people funneled in.

  • James on his last lap heading for the final climb
    James on his last lap heading for the final climb

Continuing to try and pass slower groups on fire roads and hopefully get a gap on the single track so I could floor it whilst others in category were stuck behind slower riders, I managed to build up what felt like a gap of around thirty seconds. The lap went well, no problems with me or the bike, my legs felt good but as always I was blowing like steam train and obviously trying not to show it, not easily done...pretending to find riding fast really easy whilst trying to breathe through your ears as your nose isn't getting enough air! There was a section which I should have remembered from the previous year as being a little dodgy as there were a couple of bridges to cross over small 'gullies' unfortunately I forgot this and put a pass in avoiding the bridge altogether. By all rights I should have gone arse over tit but somehow I seemed to ride through it like it wasn't there. It's quite worrying when you're putting in a pass to hear the guy you are riding past shout "Be careful! I'm on a bridge!". Maybe all the leaf fall had filled it in as you could hardly see the bridge due to everything being covered in an orange and red carpet from the leaf fall...stunning to look at, very dodgy to ride as it covered tree stumps, roots, no doubt the odd furry animal! By the end of the lap I felt like I had a good gap of maybe a few minutes thanks to my cunning passing technique, although the results would show that second place was only thirty seconds behind.

  • Malin heading for the final climb on her last lap.  She would win the 4 hour solo female 16+ race, a great result!
    Malin heading for the final climb on her last lap. She would win the 4 hour solo female 16+ race, a great result!

The second (and final) lap went well. I was feeling a bit knackered to be honest as I was really trying to keep my speed up as fast as possible, I was supposed to be treating it as a two lap sprint after all. The course was excellent with a nice mixture of flowing single track, short fire roads, a couple of climbs which I actually enjoyed weirdly and the odd jump or log to hop over. Coming towards the end of the second lap I started getting paranoid about being passed by someone or actually already being passed and being further down the field than I thought as someone had sneaked past me whilst we waited to get into the singletrack section on lap one. Climbing the final hill constantly checking over my shoulder and trying to ride as hard as I could to just get finished and see what had happened...I felt like I could be ten minutes in front and also ten minutes behind. Finally crossing the line, I swung right and headed straight for the timing screens, having no idea what position I finished in. Whilst desperately searching for my number on the timing screen the guy stood next to me said "Well done lad, you just won that!". Although not officially recognised as a race, I'm sure people were racing and I think I put in a good performance for my 'two lap sprint'. Looking forward to round two now, particularly as the results showed that the race was a lot closer than it felt with second place coming in only one and a half minutes behind me.

  • Chris Nightingale on his penultimate lap, apparently already in a lot of pain at this stage!
    Chris Nightingale on his penultimate lap, apparently already in a lot of pain at this stage!

After the race

Had 500ml of High5 Whey Protien recovery drink. Handed bottles up to Malin and James. On the final lap of the four hour race I wandered the course taking photos as it was such a great day, although it was freezing in the shade of the trees and the wind picked up towards the end of the race. When the race finished it started trying to rain so we probably just got finished in time. Drive home was a nightmare as the 5am start was really taking it's toll.

Things to change

Before and after the next race I should spend about fifteen minutes on the bike riding at a steady pace, stretching and massaging my legs. Some food for after the race would be a good idea. Bring the workstand and trackpump. Do not lose the number board in the toilet!

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