It’s been such a long wait, but finally outdoor sport is allowed again and that includes mountain bike racing... Yay, how I’ve missed it! Having been clocking up the miles throughout lockdown, both commuting and riding the trails on my own or with one other, I was feeling in good nick, so signed up to the Gorrick Breakout race at the first chance I got, and found myself on the start line on Easter Saturday, raring to go on my trusty pink Epic.
Format was a bit different (isn’t everything!) with smaller categories spread out over 2 days, meaning racing on a Saturday, which was a first for me, and it was in the format of ‘how many laps in the time’ which in my category was 3 hours. Sadly, the taste of summer sun hadn’t lasted, so it was back to base layers and tights, but that didn’t matter – it was bone dry and even dusty in places – perfect!
Gorrick have done a great job with this venue, and the course is well bedded in now, and is the twistiest, tightest rollercoaster you could imagine, with very little time for refuelling – but it’s one of my favourites. The start gun went and we set off – I held back a bit, trying not to fall into the trap of going off too fast, slightly anxious about my ability to race for 3 hours, and settled into a rhythm pretty quickly. I managed to pick off a few riders and made progress through the field, and lap 1 was done in 22 mins. At this point you start trying to do maths and work out how many laps are likely before the 3 hour cut off, and I reckoned 7 was likely for me, if I could keep the pace up.
Lap 2 I spent mostly on my own, then found myself in a pair with another rider at a similar pace. We spent the next 4 laps together, which was good for my pacing. I made sure I ate something every lap and was banging out some really consistent times, and most of all really enjoying myself! It was good to be back racing!
What climbs there were (it’s pretty flat there) were getting steeper into the last hour as my legs started to feel it, and I was still thinking that 7 laps would be it, but as I gave it some beans on lap 7 I realised that I would probably have just enough time for an 8th. But it would be tight! I had consistently done 22 minute laps, and when I crossed to start lap 8 there were 24 mins to go. I had finally passed and pulled away from the other rider I had been with, so it was a solo effort, trying to maintain the pace and not drop off!
As I finally made my way on the last section of the lap into the arena, it was clear that I’d made it back in time, crossing the line with a minute and a half to spare, and the last man to complete 8 laps, which meant a 7th place finish.
I was knackered, but so chuffed to have completed 3 hours of racing, and kept such a consistent pace. My smile lasted all the way home!