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West Drayton Mountain Bike Club | Beyond Mountain Bikes | Rapid Racer Products | Specialized |

Whyte Winter Series 2010-2011, Round 1

Race Organisors

Thetford MTB Racing

Race Results

Click here to view the Lap by lap analysis, race results and fastest rider details
Official TimeLaps results

Race photos

Photos from Dave Franciosy
Photos from JT Cycles

Race reports

Raymond Hallam - 4 Hour Solo Vet Male - #152 - Finished 26th

You can read Ray's report on his club blog by by clicking on this link.

David McNae - 2 Hour Solo - #386 - Finished 106th

Before the Race

This is one of 2 firsts for me, my first Race report and my first ever race! So please be gentle on my review.

Now I'm not new to bikes but have done most of my miles on a road bike, regularly completing Charity events. My most recent being a 4 day event, starting in a village called Orford in Suffolk and finishing in Somerset, 350 miles later. Next year it is a 400 mile ride over 4 days, so you can see i'm used to long miles in the saddle on a road bike. All I was used to off road was heading to the local trail and mucking about for an hour or 2, nothing too draining.

A friend of mine advised me he was looking at entering the Whyte series so I thought, what the heck why not! So straight to the website I go, pay my £21 and sit back and think 'What have I let myself in for!!' Looking at a few pictures of last year and reading a few things on this here website it suddenly dawned on me that I have never done any thing like this before and the nerves started to kick in, this is 2 weeks before the big day!!

Now with work and private life I am not able to get out on the bike any where near as much as I would like, but I made an effort to get out for at least a good 2 hours ride at least once a week, like I said, no where near as much as I would like! Any way, the few training rides that I was able to complete went well. My Rockhopper was feeling solid and I was starting to feel good and not worry so much that I would come in dead last!!

So the morning of the ride, I live an hour and 10 mins away (so google maps says!) and wanted to get there by 1000hrs at the latest as my race was due to start at 1040hrs. This meant I needed to leave no later than 0850hrs!! Leaving the house @ 0910hrs I realised I should have lied to my girlfriend and my 9yr old as who ever leaves on time when you have two women coming with you!!

Off we go, Tom-Tom telling me should arrive at 1015hrs I'm thinking this is a real good start to the day! Then when good Ol' TomTom starts taking me down some very random back roads until he suddenly says I have arrived no where near where I want to be. I start getting the dreaded feeling in my stomach and almost just want to turn around and go home!! Being a man I didn't need a map at this point, I went with my gut instinct and for once it worked, as with in a min or 2 I found the Fire route I had been looking for!

I pull in, amazed at all the people already there, riding their bikes up and down, gazebo's set up with people on turbo trainers getting warmed up!!! The feeling I was in way over my head soon popped back up as I try and prevent my little Pug 306 from getting stuck in the mud!!

Bike is off the back of the car, I'm whizzing down the road to race control with about 20 mins to spare not having a clue what I was meant to do, again seeing lots of very expensive bikes and more gazebos!! Got my number (386!) and was told my race was to start at 1042hrs I head back to my girls to get dressed just as the heavens open up and a really heavy down pour soaks me as I ride back to my car.

Dressed and ready to go I start to walk with my girls to the start when I realise it is 1038hrs and it is a good 3-5 min walk to the start, so off I bike to the start to see a mass of bikes and riders! Where the hell do I go? I ask some one who I think was a member off staff or helper and they pointed to a large mass and said over there some where...? I manage to get to the back of the pack and ask a couple of guys if this was the right area... they were none too sure either but I just thought what the heck, I'll stay put here!

During the Race

The buzzer sounds (can not remember the exact sound, I was too nervous!) and as the group moves off ahead I eagerly get one foot clipped in and push away, turning right into the feed stations only to be meet by the sound of screeching brakes and a wall of bodies and bikes! Not too sure what caused the sudden stop but managed to avoid every one and didn't come off which is a good start in my mind. Being my first race I had no idea what kind of pace I should keep to make sure I was capable of finishing the 2 hours ahead of me. I didn't want to go for it only to slow right down towards the end and be over taken by every one who I had over taken the laps before, so found a few people who looked similar fitness and tucked in behind them.

As I'm sure with all races, until you get to the first technical bit, unless you are one of the pro's, you are stuck in a big bunch pedalling away making sure your not too close to the person in front. The track was quite muddy and boggy due to the bad weather we had had and the sudden down pour only 20 mins prior and due to all the bikes was making it fairly sloppy, sloppier than I am used to.

I really did not know what to expect from the track that lay ahead of me, would there be any big hills to struggle up or speed down and just how technical would it get? I didn't have to wait long until I found out what fun parts of the route I had as I looked ahead could see every one stopping and waiting to go single file down the first Bomb hole. I join the queue and at this point I decide to quickly remove my windcheater as I had started to boil over. It had been cold just before the race but now my heart was pumping and my blood most definitely flowing I had worked up a good heat so off that came and stuffed it into my pocket. I get closer to the bomb hole and see it is not too bad, steep down hill with a small incline veering off to the right. I think to my self how to deal with this as I get closer to the top and then it is my go, I wait a few seconds to give the bloke ahead of me a chance to clear the uphill section and down I go but the person ahead of me seemed to struggle for some reason forcing me to try and take the right hand turn way to tight and I loose traction. 'Man down!' I hear shouted from the top of the bombhole. 'Get clear of the line if checking your bike over' shortly follows. All of this I hear from behind as I'm laying half attached to my bike in the damp mud, with people passing me to my left. I quickly get up and get on my way, no injuries except to my pride as I tackle the short 2nd uphill part of the bombhole, quickly making sure there was no damage to the bike I carry on thinking what a great way to start the first technical part of the race! Will nerves get the better of me as I come to this part of the track again?

Pack has started to separate now thanks to the wait at the top of the bombhole and could now start to get into my own groove. As I started to head off I felt my windcheater fall from my pocket, quickly doing a 180 I grabbed it off the muddy floor and this time secured it in my zipped pocket and again headed off trying to make up for lost time laying on the floor and stopping to collect the jacket.

Again not knowing what pace to go I soon caught up with some one and just followed them, not really knowing when or how to pass some one safely or if I should at all, not wanting to blow all my energy in the first 20 mins. When the track opened up I felt I could pass safely and this rider was defiantly a bit slower than me so off I went. Lap one completed in 50 mins 41 secs placing me 124th out of 137, a lot longer than

I had expected but at least it meant I was on for at least 3 laps. Legs felt good still, wasn't too tired and now felt that I knew roughly what kind of pace I could keep up so off I went for lap 2. Energy gel taken while going through the feed station and I'm raring to go.

I reach that first bombhole again, the one that I fell at on lap one. Now in my head I know I can do an obstacle like this but what a confidence knock it was to fall on the first attempt. I knew I had to nail this one this time or I would struggle with it for every after. The route was clear and I was able to take the line I wanted, down I go and up the other side. Phew, I was clear and hadn't stacked it again!

By now the route ahead was getting more churned up by the hundreds of bikes going around it. Another technical bombhole was a steep down hill to steep switch back on an incline, which is some thing I have not encountered before. On lap 1 I had taken this ok but slower than I had wanted, so this time I planned in my head how I would tackle it, mind going back to the countless articles I had read on line and in the magazines. I left a good gap ahead of me to the bloke in front and down I go only to see the bloke ahead stack it just as he is taking the tight switch back. Down he goes blocking the route ahead of me meaning I had to stop on the incline at the peak of the turn, trying not to tumble back! I get through and off I go.

About half way around lap 2 it suddenly dawned on me I had no idea what happens at the end? I knew that if I passed the start/finish under the 2 hours I was able to go around again but didn't really know what happened after that. I decided I needed to find some one who might assist. By this point I was used to passing people and thought the next person I catch up I would ask. It wasn't long before I caught some one up and waited for the route to open up. 'Is this your first race' I ask. 'Yes' is the reply. Damn it! 'Oh, any idea what happens at the end?' 'No' Great this isn't going well! I said to the rider that I was aware you keep going until your past your 2hrs point to which he replied he had made a massive mistake and entered the 4 hour race for his first ride! He had asked to change to the 2hr race but wasn't allowed. I wished him well and carried on with my race, still none the wiser but thought I would just see what happens and take it from there.

Lap 2 complete in 1hour 38 mins on the dot, now 114th out of the 137 riders in my class. I'm now starting to feel a little tired but am excited and dig deep; this is the last lap, almost there.

While heading down the straight that is the feed station gobbling another gel, I realise that I'm sitting a lot lower than I would normally sit if I were out and not doing any thing too technical. I was not able to get a good extension from my leg. My seat had some how dropped! I stopped and quickly pulled the seat back up to its correct position which when riding again felt so much better, more power transferred into the pedals. About 10 mins later I feel my seat slide back down again meaning my knees were almost under my chin! I stop and pull the seat back up again this time too high, I'm almost stretching too far. Not wanting to stop again I just wait for it to slip back down again, realising by now that some thing has come loose on the seat post meaning it would not stay in place, it didn't take long for it to pop back down to its lowest point.

Still catching people but also being caught by more people now and looking on in awe as these riders bike past at least 5 mph faster than me and still able to talk rather than just grunt as that is all I was able to do by now. Every thing started to feel weak the closer I got to the finish.

Digging deep I kept going, getting to the very muddy switch back sections just before the down hill open track that lead round to the finish. Being so low in the saddle I wasn't able to open up properly with what ever reserves I didn't have! so just stayed behind the man in front before the sharp right hand turn heading for the finish. Over the finish line I go just as my legs decide they have had enough. For some reason my chain decides it has had enough as well and comes off? As I turn the final turning I can see my girlfriend and daughter waiting at the end with camera's poised for that final shot of the day, but I just don't have the energy to put my chain back on and bike that 50 yards for the shot, I just duck under the ticker tape and start to feel drained of all energy! I was done!

After the Race Well I had done it, 2 hours 30 mins and 45 seconds I had completed 3 laps and finished 106th out of 137 riders. Very pleased not to have finished last I eagerly ate a cheeseburger! Just what every rider needs after a race! Legs feeling like Jelly for a while, all I could think about doing was getting home for a good hot shower!

Things to change and things I have learnt!

I definitely need to see what is going on with my seat, I knew riding height played a part in how much power you could put down but not as much as it did while I was out! Also I wanted to look into some new rubber for my tyres as I felt that I wasn't able to take some corners as fast as I wanted as felt very loose under cornering. Finally, need to make sure I leave with more time, I felt very rushed before the start of the race, wasn't able to compose myself and double check every thing was in good working order. Training...I need to do a lot more but still really really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next 3 rounds!

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