Yesterday I travelled to Shouldham Warren in Norfolk. This was a new course for the Mud Sweat and Gears series and I was excited about trying it out.
I had not been very well in the run up to the race and had doubts about competing on Sunday but decided as I had made my way half way across the country I should go and give it a go!
We arrived at the course at 8am in perfect time for practise, before the start at 10am.
The course started with a long gentle climb which turned on to a single track which led into the first bomb hole. It then opened up again on to cart track before turning once again into the forest single track. The course was very similar to Thetford in this way and also Dunwich where I have done training, in the sense that it had long sections of single track linked together by open cart tracks.
The course was relatively flat and I knew it would be a fast paced race which would suit my competition. It was quite sandy and loose in places, but because of the fast conditions I decided to stay with hard tyres and loose a little grip over soft tyres which would be harder to push. This worked well and during the race I felt happy and able to carry my speed and only had a few little slips which didn’t effect my race.
My start was not great there was too many riders on the start line and it was hard to get going when we were so tightly packed but I made my way up the hill in touch with the lead riders.
On the first lap we went straight up missing the first bomb hole this is meant to spread out the riders but it didn’t work very well in my favour getting stuck behind riders I needed to get in front of, I waited for the next opportunity to pass and took it. I now had to work hard to catch the others, this is always hard when there is no sight of any one in front but I kept pushing on and soon started to catch up and pass other riders which gave me a boost.
Half way through my third lap I caught sight of Alex Nichol from CCN she seemed quite far away but I pushed on and by the end of the third lap I was on her wheel as we went out into our fourth lap on the hill I took the opportunity to pass. Determined to stay in front I kept focused and pushed as hard as I could and soon when I looked back she was gone. I knew that I had to keep the gap because if she caught me on a long cart track with a 29er she would have the advantage but every time I looked round there was no one there. Coming up the last sandy straight I gave it one last big push over the finish line pleased with my progress and glad that I had raced.
Overall in my category I came third and was fifth girl back out of 19. A great result considering how I was feeling.
I was 14 mins behind Laura Sampson who came first. It took me 1 hour 36 mins to complete the 18 mile course with an average heart rate of 177bpm and max of 186bpm. Garmin data here.
Lap 1: 23.20
Lap 2: 24.37
Lap 3: 24.17
Lap 4: 24.06