Last Saturday as I arrived at Pippingford Park for the Single Speed UK Champs, my mind was psyched, but my body wasn't willing.
Bumping into Phil Moore pre practice lap only served to increase my psyche for the event. The practice lap itself proved interesting in the wet and with a 100 odd competitors out there in the wet the race was going to be fun and tough. The lack on mud tyres forced a rear sprocket change to ensure I seat down for longer to get more grip, which would turn out to help quite a bit.
With yet another le mans start and my bike being at the bottom of a large pile, meant I was on back foot from the start. I eventually found my bike and started in the last 10-15 riders, a short foot sprint through the nearest wobbly starters and then 250m's sprint to the first bit of single track served me well to gain a few spots.
From this point I would need to get creative with overtaking lines, run the muddy hills that others walked and pass as many as I could on the couple of open climbs and the downhill section.
In parts the course had got really technical because of the mud, one section of this was the drop-ins, the first of which I cocked up, had to try to run down and took the arse out of my shorts, which would prove to be entertainer for others. Funnily enough the drop-ins caused me no further pain.
The beer stop I thought would give me the chance to sneak past others, as I had to drive home that night and had such a bad start, I passed it by each lap. I used my right butt cheek hanging out my shorts as a good excuse. :-) The only issue with this ploy, was the fact that the faces seemed familiar each time I went passed. (Some had stayed there for the whole race).
So some more creativity beyond riding through the gap of the girl and her bike who crashed 2m's in front of me or the high lines out of corners. Putting the bike down at one point when trying to get passed one guy, I remounted, caught him by the next set of berms and straight lined the corner to get passed, a power slide inside another rider and another spot gained. Maybe ramming the guys bike who panicked to get out the way was too much, but I did apologise and he only laughed and apologised too.
The race was short and sharp and the track great, the conditions could have been better, but that's mountain biking. As for the start, well I think this made my race, everyone has the same chance of this happening to them in such a race and I just laughed about it and then went about the business of racing and having fun. Remarkably I ended up 14th unofficially and 4th officially (once again everyone after 3rd was 4th).
A great race, great to see everyone again and now back to the long stuff. Dusk til Dawn in a few weeks.