With very little training since the last race and lots of house decorating, it was difficult to get motivated for this race, but I arrived at the race with the ice still solid on the ground and most of the snow now melted.
Registered, I slowly sorted myself out, had a cup of hot tea and chatted to a few folk and Karl, making his return to MTB racing after a little absence, he chose a tough day.
Soon things were underway and the order of the day would be Ben from TORQ schooling everyone in 4hr again. Anyway, the usual queues at the first bit of single track happened and the legs would have to deal with pushing the single speed at lower than ideal speeds for a while. Halfway through the first lap and things cleared up and I found a rhythm and held it for the next two laps.
Most parts of the course were holding up well, but some were becoming a slushy mess of mud, water, pine needles, twigs and the occasional fallen rider. Nearing the end of the third lap, cramp in both my thighs and both my calves set in, about the time my back started acting up.
The fourth lap although feeling slower (it was) I seemed to still pass people, although 4 minutes into the fourth lap, things got far too uncomfortable. After passing a group of riders, I was off the bike stretching in pain, cursing my fitness and struggling to get my caffeine gels out of my jersey. A fellow single speeder, offered me a Shot Block (small jelly blocks full of caffeine) I'm Ok, thanks mate" as I finally got hold of my gels, still cursing my lack of fitness and prep.
I was off again soon and caught the same of riders individually over the next 5 minutes or so, as a few 2hr races went past I held their wheel for a while to forget about the pain. Phil, from CW Leatherhead went past on the long hill and we exchange encouragement, as I suffered on.
I turned the pedals to cross the start finish again and head out for the fifth lap, this was and extremely painful lap and I knew I would need to man up to get another lap done. Passing a few more 4 and 2 hr riders I felt marginally stronger and the cramps less and about halfway through the lap, I picked the pace up a bit, but not enough two other 4hr races caught and passed me. Staring the sixth and final lap, I gorged two gels and stomped up the bitumen climb. With my back in agony, I stood on the pedals. With most of the 2hrs riders finished the track was clear and free flowing, which was good as my rear break pads had gone and it was front breaking only.
After the long climb again (back killing me) I entered some single track, swoop through it and charged across the top and down the hill on the other side for some relief and then up the shot climb on the other side. I sighted the chap I had been vying with for the entire race (the in battle had raged as we passed or outlasted others). I caught him on a fast but twitchy downhill section and let the bike run, I'd not see him until the finish now.
The rest of the lap was ride as hard as my back let me as my cramps had eased enough to ignore and run up the chewed up sloppy hills that I could no longer climb. I passed some other riders I had and soon came to the last technical section and the long open slight down hill run for home. My combatant soon arrived and we had a chat and laugh about the constant fighting between us.
I had no idea where I had finished and was in too much pain to care at that point, but later found out I finished 11th. I was stoked with this as I had felt rubbish for 3 laps, and had hoped for a top 20, this finish was far greater than I expected.
Gorrick and the Army Cycling Union, thanks for an excellent course, one of the best so far and a great event.
Now can January, be better again. Some training is in order now the house is more organised.