Southern Round 2, Wasing; Race Report from Sam Humphrey.
The British summer arrived in force for the latest round of the southern xc series at Wasing this weekend. But with the good weather came a bit of a downturn in OFFCAMBER team fortunes……Mark has a broken arm so is currently resting up…..and on the turbo I hope! Chris had life threatening man flu in the week leading up to the event, Tony punctured on the second lap and Zoe had a fight with the floor in which her elbow came off worse! And I seemed to continue my outstanding run of mediocrity! It’s easy to forget that with all our lush bikes and flash kit……this is still a really demanding sport…..and remember, we chose to do it!
The course itself was pretty fast, not much climbing to speak of, some good twisty single track and a couple of man made features that provided some A and B line choices such as a staircase, gap jump and a big drop in. There has been some debate on the internet recently about xc courses and wether or not they are challenging enough to help prepare riders for UCI type racing….I feel that the fastest racers will always end up near the front on whatever the course throws at them…..if the courses have too many high injury risk sections, we run the risk of putting off the people that help make these races pay, and keep our bike shops in business…a couple of big drops and steep downhills will not make me a World Cup rider….I know because I have been there! Fitness will ultimately select the strongest riders……..if we wish to prepare our racers for world cups…….then BC should take them to world cups, road racing has risen hugely in this country due in part to riders racing on the continent and bringing that level home…we might even get some points towards Olympic qualification, as it stands we currently have no one eligible to race in Rio! No matter how technically difficult we make our courses. For what it’s worth, I think most course designers are getting it about right, it’s a tricky dilemma.
With this in mind, the big drop A line was shut due to an overworked ambulance! For most of the races, so any small advantage of that section was negated. First up were the women’s categories who were set off all together……it made a better spectacle at the start, but after the race a few
riders said that the start was furious as they were pitched against people from all categories! I think it took people out of their comfort zone a bit! Zoe was looking good but working really hard as she came through on the first
Lap, it was approaching 25 degrees and in the trees there was little in the way of a cooling breeze so recovery was tough, the next thing we heard was someone in OFFCAMBER kit was walking back as she had crashed……first thought was, at least she is walking back, but unfortunately that was race over for Zoe, her mind is now on recovery and preparing for the next one. Next up was the vets class…..this one turned out to be pretty tough as all but two of the countries best riders lined up, temp now up to 27 degrees it was going to be a tough 5 laps. after missing the first round and the second being cancelled I had to start a bit further back than I would have liked, the gun went and I set about moving through the field……..by the end of the first little drag I had found my way through to 4th….a touch of luck! and I hung on here until the end of the 1st lap….where I then started to pay the price! Over the next hour I lost time steadily and dropped back to 6th before a last lap push to move back up to 5th, my expectations are higher than this so its hard to deal with finishing lower than you feel you should, and that’s the same at whatever level you are racing, I think I know what the problem is……so fingers crossed over then next month or so….I see an improvement in lap times, it is certainly not the bike, that is awesome, I just need to be stronger to exploit the bike a bit more!
Andy had a solid race to come in 22nd on a physically relentless course, ironically I think Andy thrives the more difficult the riding is so this course was probably not quite tricky enough for him! Dean ended up well done in the heat and decided to call it a day early…..living to fight another day ! Tony had a great first lap in the sport race during the hottest part of the day, his first lap time saw him in the top five until a puncture put him on the side lines, he managed to get it fixed and rode on to the finish coming in 21st, a brilliant effort and shows his mentality, he will bounce back at the next one as he seems to be improving in leaps at each race……keep watching this one as I think he could well move up next year. Poor Chris just didn’t seem to be in the game at this one, the heat on top of a bug was just too much of the day but he will be back for the next southern I am sure.
So in summary this was a tough weekend for the team, we head up to Dalby forest for the next national race this weekend so pray for a dry race please! This will again provide a different test for bodies and bikes, set ups will be changed a bit for bigger hills and more rocks…..Tony might fit even more downhill related bits to his bike that require more handlebar lockout levers!!! And I will look at what I can remove to get even lighter! Thanks to the guys at OFFCAMBER for the continued support….we will take on the best in the country again this weekend…….a little piece of Blandford in North Yorkshire …….a battle of Badger vs Tetley !