On Saturday I travelled to my parents in Suffolk, ready to take part in round six of the Mud Sweat and Gears series. The alarm went off at 6.20 on Sunday morning and the pre race routine kicked in, oats for breakfast, packing the car, checking I had enough gels and electrolyte drinks, bike on the roof and off we went.
I hadn’t been feeling very well for a couple of days and wasn’t feeling very strong going into this race.
Arriving in time to practise the course, Thetford in Norfolk is a pretty flat part of the country and so the course was mainly flat single track through trees with a slight incline and decline in places. There was one bomb hole which had an ‘a’ and ‘b’ line, this was a simple straight in and out pit so no issue.
After practising I had a banana and cereal bar got my gels and lined up with the others. Today there was five of us in the elite/expert category. I lined up in the middle looking at the bend we had to get round out of the start thinking that would be the best place to start, this turned out to not be the case as the whistle went being in the middle and not the fastest off the line meant I got squeezed by other riders but kept my head down and pushed on. The first lap was short to help spread us out before we entered the singletrack for the second lap.
This first lap felt hard the start had been very quick and my legs felt heavy from not having a proper warm up. I came through the first lap at 17 mins way off the pace I hadn’t had a chance to drink because the ground although flat was rough and I was getting shaken about quite a bit.
Coming into my second lap I felt pretty weak my legs were heavy still and my stomach kept cramping, not a great start when there is four laps left. I kept pushing on riding my own race and trying to not panic about being far behind. To make things a bit more interesting my Garmin fell off my bike which meant I had to stop and pick it up loosing time and becoming a bit flustered about being off the front group.
Half way through lap two my Dad popped up at one of the cart tracks full of support which spurred me on. Going into my third lap he told me I was gaining on another girl ahead and kept talking to me at the gates on the way round, it was so encouraging to know I was gaining on her and getting faster, my legs had eased up and I had been able to drink and had a gel which gave me an energy burst I desperately needed!
I caught up the other rider and over took which again was a big boost, I kept pushing forward riding as fast and as faultlessly as I could. After a while I felt I had lost her enough to start enjoying the race a little more the single track sections through the trees where brilliant and although it felt like you were a rag doll being shaken about the down hill sections were fast as the trees seemed to fly by. Coming into the last lap I felt good and decided to put everything into gaining on the others. The last singletrack section on this lap my legs started to feel a bit tired but I pushed on determined to finish fast.
Crossing the finish line was a brilliant feeling I felt at home on my bike for the first time since getting it and everything flowed together (once I got over the first heavy legged feeling)
I came third in my category and fifth girl back out of 14 which I’m very happy with.
My next challenge is Ride London next weekend and then the last nationals of the year in Staffordshire.
My lap times were;
Lap 1: 17.07
Lap 2: 22.17
Lap 3: 22.45
Lap 4: 21.49
Lap 5: 21.46
Thank you as always to my sponsors and support. Especially to Velo Virtuoso and Geared Up Cycles who keep my bike in brilliant condition, even after I crash it!