On Sunday the alarm went off at 5.30 ready for the drive to Codham Park in Essex for round three of the MSG series.
It was my first MSG of the year on one of my favourite courses, Codham Park. I arrived at the Park in the bright morning sunshine, the car was already registering 16 degrees at 7.30!
I have found racing in the heat challenging before so I took a bottle of electrolyte drink round on my practise lap and kept sipping to stay as well hydrated as possible.
The thing I love about Codham is the variety of terrain, the course starts on open cart track which tracks through a farm over fields and into a woodland where the single track is tight and twisty, it doesn’t leave much room for overtaking so I made a mental note of where I would be able to over take if I needed to. The course pops out of the forest and continues up and then straight along a field into more forest which then brings you out into a ‘sand pit’ area with some great switch backs and drops. After the final switch back the course climbs steeply out of the pit and onto a BMX track which is often loose and sandy.
I felt confident after the practise lap, there was one ‘A’ line which was an off camber shoot down a grass bank which I decide after much deliberation I was going to do, as I was worried about falling on my bad elbow, the price for not taking this was an extra 45 seconds each lap which was going to be hard to make up but I was determined to do my best!
It was soon time to grid and I waited eagerly on the starting line ready to race. The heat was already burning down and I wished my it wasn’t so black! The whistle went and I got a great start hanging onto another riders wheel the first corner I turned well and the terrain turned to grass I dropped down a gear, which was a mistake as I lost speed and a couple of riders past me. We came to a long grassy climb and this is where having a 29’er would of been ideal, they seemed to glide past me as I grunted up the hill my 130mm travel 650b not working to my advantage!
I had lost the front riders by the time we got into the wooded section as I got caught behind someone going slightly slower than I would have liked this cost me time and once I was out of the forest I worked hard to pull the gap back, unsuccessfully!
My ‘b’ line decision was costing me time and I felt frustrated so on my third lap I decided to bite the bullet and take the ‘a’ line sadly a rider had come off quite badly and it was closed so I couldn’t take it.
Donna Dale a veteran rider and I spent the next two laps pushing against one another it was great to have someone to push against and it gave me a new lease of life!
Entering the final lap I felt good and pushed on determined to make this my best lap I worked hard on the field to get in front of Donna before the wooded section and succeeded this was where my decision to have 650b wheels really paid off! My Silverback Syncra glided effortlessly through the tree and felt so comfortable to ride and turned carrying speed which was a real advantage.
I entered the technical section for the last time and pushed as hard as I could coming into the finish line I new I had given it my all.
My lap times were relatively consistent although dropped off slightly, this is something I need to work on. Compared to last season my lap times at this course have got quicker by 5/6 mins really showing that my training is working.
4 laps 1 hour 16 mins
Lap 1 18.23
Lap 2 19.26
Lap 3 19.11
Lap 4 19.05
From my lap times I think I have clearly got room for improvement I know I have to warm up well to enable my first and second lap times to be as good as my third and fourth.