Not Quite A World Cup

11:45. Warm up over. Time to head for the start line for gridding. The commissaire was there calling the riders forward.
"Maxime Marotte"
"Geoff Kabush"
"Oliver Beckinsale"
"David Rosa"
My brain had a 'WTF!?' moment. It had been so full of other things since yesterday's practice that for a brief moment I thought I had inadvertently turned up at the World Cup rather than the BMBS. Don't be daft Andy.
"Ole-Christian Fagerli"
"Ola Kjoren"
This is getting silly now. Someone would have said something yesterday if I was at the wrong event. Actually, I did do my practice session with Jose Bolivar, the Venezuelan rider....
Eventually I was called forward and took my place on the grid. The start straight was very short, a 400yd blast down the field, a hairpin bend and then down the field in the opposite direction and into the singletrack. There was the inevitable bottleneck when we got to the narrow bit, back on the power, then into the next bottle neck, the bike will run wide, there it goes, watch for the stump, catch it nicely with the front wheel, keeps me on course, power again and a short uphill, into the feed-zone, then swoop down over the jumps and drop down onto the fireroad, the riders spreading out a little now. Get the speed up, hit the big slab as fast as I can, use the momentum to carry me up and over.
Drop down another slab, aim for the little stone, then power for the short fireroad section, and then up and into the singletrack again. Up towards the boardwalk, don't know which line is faster, much debate about that, so I take the right line, swoop down right then left, then right again, and drop off the boulder onto the fireroad, don't run too wide, mind the spectators, why do they stand there?
Hit the power again, then down across the roots, watch the gap on the slippery one, smile to Joolze, down through the gears, wide round the hairpin and power again, up the hill. Heading down now, weight back for the log steps, hit the bottom and keep the momentum, up again. Across the rock slabs and head towards Worry Gill, ignore the crowds, eyes on the track. Go wide, brake, brake, brake, release the front, keep it left, roll, grab the rear brake, bike's level again, front brake, release it almost straight away, and swing the bike round, down the gully. Watch the rocks, smooth line on the right. What's that noise?
Keep the power on, pick the line, watch the rocks. Noise is getting louder, what is it? Bike's still working, ignore it, keep going. Watch the divot, power again. what is that noise? Got to have a look. Stop the bike, chainset fine, front mech fine, rear mech fine. Bottle cage loose. Bottle into other cage, sprint again, time to make up. Sprint faster. Woa, big air off the second divot, nose-dive landing, didn't mean to do that, that was scary, still on the bike, keep going.
Wide on the berm at the bottom, down the gears and sprint for the hill, right line at the bottom, over the crest, get the speed up again, into the climb proper, right line again. Up, up some more, and still up. Tight left round the turn, then right line at the root, up again, wide line round the next turn, up, up, up, keep it tight round the turn at the top, up through the gears and down through the sweepy turns, use the banking, don't lock the rear brake, cut to the inside, miss the first rock, over the next two, speed down the through the hairpin, into the next, use the banking, power, then brake, brake, brake. Get it wide, wider, aim for the root, front wheel spot on, turn into Medusa, let go of the brakes, over the first log, over the second, dab of front brake, keep it right, there's the rock, over that, quick pedal, then left, drop over the root, then keep it well left, down the channel between the roots, rear brake, let it go, over the step, back on the power, down the drop in to the field, keep the wheels on the ground, ignore the crowd, don't look, back on the power, fast as I can, need momentum up the hill, left line, keep the power on, change down, keep it going, change down again, keep it going, up and up and up, change down again, up, move to the right, up, change down another gear, biggest sprocket, don't need the granny, nearly there. Over the crest and sprint, right at the top, into the descent, left line passed the rock, and hard on the brakes, cut inside the rock, down and watch the stump on the exit, get left, then get the weight back and drop onto the fireroad.
Big ring, time for a drink. Where's it gone?! Other cage, phew, get it down me. Look for the turn, there it is, keep on the power on, keep it on, keep it on, now brake! Wide, then cut in to the left, back on the power, over one root, aim for the second, right-hand side, bike's off the ground, nice landing, power again, then brake hard! Wide turn, then give it some welly, aim for the smaller rock, drop down through the gears, biggest sprocket, keep it moving, find the grip, back tyre digging in, don't know who that is on the other line, he's running, keep it moving, get out in front of him, right at the top, over the root and up. How does this bit take so long, keep moving. At the top now, up the gears, more speed. Lift the front onto the boardwalk, bike's in the air again, nice landing, keep the speed up, lovely swoopy bit. Big ring, keep going, legs hurting, keep going, tight turn, up and over, through the gate, front wheel sliding on the gravel, wide in, then tight out of the turn, through the next and into the start finish straight.
Repeat 5 more times.
44th in the end, just outside the points, but 10 places up on Sherwood. Big target race next, European 24hr at Newcastleton. See some of you there. (Radio 4 joke too obscure?)

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