Midland Series Round 1

It was nice to wake up on the morning of a race day and see a bright blue sky, something I only saw once last season. On that occasion it was just prior to the start of the European 24 hour and it then rained constantly for the next 23.
This time we were fortunate though, the sun came out and stayed out, I even raced in shorts, not bad considering it’s February and there was quite a bit of snow last weekend.
We arrived in plenty of time for practice, but the journey from the van to the start line took forever, it was the first race of the year and there were so many people to see and say hello to, a lot of catching up to do. One of the people I bumped into was Ant White from Mt Zoom, who has generously taken on sponsorship of the series, alongside the established sponsor RRP.
Hicks Lodge is a new venue, using recently constructed trails. The course was, to put it nicely, somewhat topographically challenged, which was a shame as James and the rest of the Midlands organisers usually come up with surprisingly good courses in unlikely locations. To be fair, it raced a lot better than it rode, if that makes sense, the challenge came not from any difficulty of the course but from the speeds we were doing, much faster than would normally be expected.

I got a good start and stuck with the main pack for the first lap before we started to spread out. It was surprising just how much the course had dried out between practice and the race, a couple of hours of sunshine had made all the difference.
The first race of the year is always an unknown, I know whether I’ve been going well over the winter but have no idea how fast everyone else will be. I managed to keep the pace up for the first five laps, and posted some reasonably consistent lap times 18:57, 19:09, 19:35, 19:35, 19:55. However, I’m not really used to short, fast races and the pace was starting to take it’s toll by the sixth and final lap, and I could only manage 21:37, although this did include a brief pause to remove some undergrowth from my rear wheel.
I finished in 14th, which was good enough to give me two points towards my National Ranking, so I’m fairly happy with that.

Those of you who read my article about mending a damaged carbon frame may be interested to know that this was the frame I was racing on and, contrary to popular expectations, I am still alive.

Although this course wasn’t at all to my liking, just a glorified ‘cross course, I already have my entry in for the next two rounds, these courses I know are both very good. The final race of the series will be at Hanchurch, which is a fantastic course, they are saving the best until last, but unfortunately I shall have to miss that one as I’ll be en route to the Worlds at Finale Ligure.

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