Gorrick Southern XC
20 minutes after returning from practice I was waiting at the start line and
feeling nervous. In fact I was feeling really nervous! A quick glance at my
heart rate monitor showed that I had 120bpm when I was just standing still,
around double what it should have been! I was a bit worried about being knocked
off at the start as there was a quick downhill section of a few hundred yards
which then went straight in to a singletrack section. As we started I held back
a bit, running around the middle of the field, and didn't try for any overtaking
down the hill, maintaining a nice straight course in case anybody was coming
past me. We all barrelled in to the singletrack and, sure enough, there was
carnage with people down all over the place. I managed to avoid everybody and
then it was just a single file procession for quite some distance. It was at this
stage that I realised how important the start had been because I was cruising
along, unable to pass anybody as the track was so narrow, and I could see the
leaders slowly pulling away.
Soon we cleared the first bit of singletrack and I started to push harder,
passing quite a few riders. The course was a mixture of wide open tracks and an
equal amount of narrow singletrack where passing was impossible. Most of the
surface was quite slippery as the open tracks were frequently covered in
vegetation and leaves while the single track was loose, sandy soil. During the
race I think I fell off about 4 times and each time the bike slipped out on a
corner and I went down before I could even get my feet off the pedals!
Fortunately the ground was soft and none of these crashes hurt.
The thing that really struck me was just how tiring it was! I'd done a '10' before on the road but that was less than 30 minutes of effort. When riding offroad with my friends we push very hard in places but there is always a chance for a breather as we re-group after each bit of single track etc. This was just relentless, the only letup being when you got held up behind a slower rider on the singletrack, and it was a bit of a relief to get a slight breather!
At last the end of the second, and final, lap approached. I had been slowly
catching two riders for a long time and they were now within striking distance.
The run in to the finish was up a long steep hill. As we reached the hill I gave
it everything I had and slowly started to reel in the guy in front. He kept
looking over his shoulder and he was also catching the rider in front of him. As
we all bunched up to within a few bike lengths my heart rate was up to 191 - not
bad for a 42 year old! The rider I had been catching put on a final spurt and
passed the person in front. I gave it my all but I was spent and I just trailed
over the line on his back wheel. Just 4 seconds covered the 3 of us.
It was a great day and I made plans to compete in the last 2 Gorrick events that year. Unfortunately other commitments got in the way and I wasn't able to do either race which was a great disappointment.
Result: 12th out of 53
Time behind leader: 4m 36s
Distance: 12.0 miles
Time: 1h 2m 41s