On Saturday Martyn and I travelled down to Hopton Castle, Shropshire so I could compete in round three of the British Cross Country Nationals.
I decided to ride the course on the Saturday giving more time to practise. I walked parts of the course whilst Martyn raced in the open category. This was to really help me on the technical downhill sections, knowing where to enter the corners and noting any routes that may be tricky!
Riding the course was good fun but challenging the course went straight up for the first couple of kilometres. First on a cart track and then after a small open flat sections onto a gruelling climb up grassy and rooty single track. This was going to be the hardest part of the race and potentially the part where the race would be won or lost due to my ability to go up hills faster than my opponents.
(Having been to Wales recently) The downhill sections where fun and I felt comfortable riding them as they were similar to things I had previously ridden and quite recently ridden in Wales.
After having my practice lap, I felt confident about my ability to ride the course and potentially win!
The next day started early with the race starting at 9:30 we got down early so I could warm up.
The race started and was very bunched up as we all headed up the hill into the first left bend, I pushed on and was sitting quite comfortably in third. However we reached the next sharp right hand bend and I cut the corner and slipped which cost me time but I pushed on. (The next grassy climbed as I though really split the group up ) does not make sense and I pushed on into the next bit of single track downhill where a lapse in concentration cost me dearly as I came off and then had to wait for everyone to go by, before I could get back on safely. This lost me my third place and put me in last position.
I pushed on and over the course of my second lap regained a lot of lost time and actually pulled ahead of Fiona Innes (RAF) to regain third place, this happened on the second section of hill where I was able to put a big distance between the two of us.
I kept pushing on hard and taking the downhill bits steadily as to not make any errors which could result in me loosing time.
I finished the last section of downhill and rode back into the arena relieved to have finished as it had been very demanding on my endurance skills.
A tragic mistake! I believed once passed the time lapse truck I had gone through the finish, this was not the case! And as I watched in horror, from the other side of the barrier which I had crossed and saw Fiona taking third place. I crossed back into the arena to finish the race feeling very frustrated about how I could make such a blinding error which cost me dearly.
Overall this race showed where my weaknesses lie and where I need to improve, including my ability to push harder uphill and turn sharper and quicker both on downhill and uphill.
These are points I am now working on ready for the next race.
After this race I am now sitting in third position in the sport category overall.