Thanks for the comments, yes i used the hill!
I did a fair bit of riding over the winter, including JV's eponymous 100 miler with(out) his local club - we turned up about half an hour after they had set off and never saw them. Anyway, i expected a good year. At Round 1, i was flyin', but the race didnt go too well - stuck in a crash on the start line, so set off about last. It was tricky getting back to the front whilst also avoiding Thetfords trees. I was confident but it went a bit wrong and i ended up outsprinted and came in 2nd. At sherwood pines again it wasnt spectacular. This is my local course, ive won probably 15-20 races there over the years. The course was more singletrack than usual and it rained like crazy half way through. Matt Barrett and Ben Dale were strong there and although i attacked with 1 to go i had a feeling i would be caught and was. 2nd was a reasonable result for the day but my expectations are always super high there. Round 3 was Margam where i scored my best ever result the year before - 10th in elite. The climbs are hard and i like it there. It started fast with Ben at the front, then after about 2km Matt took over and we were really going quick. I took over with the aim of going clear on the climb and pulling out a gap. It worked but by about lap 3 Sam Gardener caught me. When ur caught its easy for the head to go a bit and although i felt ok, i wasnt super. He dropped me and then my crank arm was wobbling all over the place so that needed to be fixed. I ended up 5th which was not good as it meant i had pretty much lost the series (as each round had been so close) and i'd set off with the intention of putting in a good ride following rounds 1 and 2.
The bike then went back as i dont think it working for me. the 06 merida was made of lead but fitted and rode really well. The 07 BMC just felt a little wrong, more of an enduro bike but without the enduro travel. Odd. So the "mini mig" project was finally completed and the old skool as opposed to retro Full Dynamix was born. This was intended to be ur average xc hardtail, but it just feels fast so is nice to race. I trained like a nutter for the Nat Chimps, which was more than a little dissapointing as the floods ensured i didnt make it. Grrr to the max.
Finally then it was time for CYB NPS finals. I was expecting a proper hard course but luckily it was less on the trails than i anticipated. The practice lap was a 7km stream. Literally 2 inches of water for most of it. The course was suited to me - fast middle and big ring climbing with some fairly short descents except the fast one at the end. Loosely based around the Tarw Trail (think this is the old MBR one). I purposely didnt go off flat out as i had Margam in mind and although was confident i had been before and it hadnt worked out. Anyway i was in 4th at the bottom of the main climb half way round and could see Matt pulling away. I was really holding back so stepped it up, bridged to Matt and just about dropped him, till he caught me up on a fireroad descent. Then he had to stop as he'd lost air in his tubeless tyre, telling me to go on and win! Hes a good mate but its not quite as easy as that Matt, not finished the 1st lap yet. Everybody in the world was puncturing on the fast DH (i saw 4 on my practice lap the day before!), but according a mate from Freeridespain - "if u puncture ur a spaz". Wise words. I had pumped up from the normal 35-40 to 45psi and rode to not puncture knowing i had the advantage of the climbs to pull out time. Getting to the bottom of the 1st descent in 1st was good and then i knew id gain time on the climb, so was fully confident by then. The rest was good, riding at ur own pace is the best way to race and its so much easier to do that when ur on ur own. That means basically thinking about riding in the right position on the bike, right gear, pacing and going flat out where u can. I always think of how im doing compared to the others and beleive if ive made a little mistake on a dh then they will have gained but if ive gone up the climb as fast as i can then ive gained time and work out in my head if im pulling way or getting caught. I knew i was losing a bit on the dh's but equally i was going maybe 90%, staying smooth, not making mistakes and not puncturing or crashing. I'd wanted to win the Nat Champs, enjoy this race then retire from so much racing. With no champs i had just wanted to win this one. I just rolled down the last dh down to the finish to think about winning and take it in but it pretty much just felt like winning a bike race. Ive done that before and finished in about every position too. Thats prob why ive decided to cut back on the normal mtb racing as its been getting too familiar. Obviously the prizes of an XL jersey and XL gloves were great too! Anyway, thanks for the support this year to JV and everyone else. Ive now got a raft of hill climbs and a duathlon and maybe a bit of 'cross to look forward to - motivation is high for these as its something a bit different. Its also quite likely there will be quite a few mtb races next year too...
g aka superstrong
In life i have but one single desire - to tear down the sky. Alberto Tomba.