British XC Round 2 – Dalby – Race Report by Lucy Grant
What. A. Race.
And what a weekend!
We arrived at Dalby Forest at about 1 o’clock on Saturday. We drove into the soaking wet soggy muddy field, which was going to be our campsite, and we were greeted by a hailstorm! “Great”, just the way to start the weekend. After pitching tents we headed out to pre-ride, Katy and I both LOVED the course.
Sunday came after a very cold night in the tent. By 6:30am we were up and changed and began getting ready for the race. I was feeling nervous about the race because I so badly wanted to do well. After I warmed up I went to get my helmet and gloves. When I came back over my bike was on the bike stand with no back wheel! Oh no. What had happened, I looked to see my dad and David frantically fixing a puncture… yes I had managed to puncture on the turbo! I began to get really nervous now. There was only 10 minutes to the race start! I watched as they fixed it and hoped it would fix first time! Thankfully they managed to change it very quickly, which I was very grateful for.
I jumped on my bike and rode over to the start line where, as usual everyone was riding around in a big circle. It was quite intimidating riding around in this as all the coaches and parents and other riders were watching you and they were all very hyped up about the race. It built up the tension of the start of the race. It was raining again now, which was just annoying. The start loop went around the arena and kind of zigzagged around on the grass before joining the trail. Normally this would have been fine but with all the rain and hail the grass was getting ripped up and all the corners were proper sketchy.
After a long wait due to the elite women doing an extra start loop we were finally gridded. This time I wasn’t as lucky and was gridded almost last due to the fact I didn’t finish at Sherwood. But my goals for the race were:
- Hit the right lines
- Go FAST! And enjoy it.
With these in my head I clipped my foot in and listened for the starting gun with 15 seconds to go…
Ouch that was loud. And we were off, very, very slowly and almost sideways! This was due to the mad wheel spin everyone was getting from the churned up grass. Right now it was like the race was on a video in slow motion… I stood up to try to speed up, but nothing happened except spinning wheels, I changed my gear and my rear wheel kicked out to the side. I managed to find a bit of traction and I very slowly sprinted up the outside of the other girls and slotted in next to the girl in first. This was MAD there was absolutely no grip and there were people sliding everywhere!! I rounded the final grassy corner and my back wheel spun out to 90 degrees so I was now going sideways and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it so I just laughed! People behind me were sliding all over the track after the corner but finally we hit the solid man-made track where we were put out of slow motion and back in play mode again.
Right now I was sitting in first; I could feel the pressure of everyone behind me. To start with there was a quick descent followed by a small kick up. We came out at the top of a climb and there was another stretch of field! I groaned, but kept going knowing that I couldn’t afford another wipeout here. I managed to get a good line along the left side though. The next part of the course was a swooping descent, some boardwalk and then some awkwardly distanced drops… the sort of ones where as your back wheel is just about to go off the first one your front wheel is already on the next one, anyway… I carried on, now there were only 2 or 3 people behind me as the rest had been spread out on the second field section. We came into another descent. This was my favourite one. I got to the bottom and began to catch some of the juvenile boy. I gave them some space, as there was no way I could pass them here anyway because we were riding down a long narrow gully. At the bottom I asked to get past and he ignored me. I asked again and tried to get past but he wouldn’t let me. So I snapped and went to pass him on his left when the track widened. I instantly thought “bad idea.” I hadn’t noticed how deep the mud was and as I tried to pass I began to lose traction, slipped and then started to go sideways. I was back in slow motion. I was falling closer and closer to the ground. Nooooooo. I hit down onto the cold wet ground and landed on what I though was some grass but oh no it wasn’t. It was a patch on nettles!!!!
Ouch, ouch, ouch. I had landed on my left side and I could feel the stings all the way from my cheek, down my arm and down my leg. My cheek felt like it had been slit open and my legs and arms were stinging like mad. I got back up wary that second was close behind me and limped onto the bike. I looked down and could see some blood trickling down my leg. I put it out of my mind. Next was the steepest hill ever. Granny ring time I thought and carried on riding up the hill. Nothing eventful happened during the rest of the lap but I was really enjoying the course. I came up the final hill of the first lap and then onto the final long drag before the finish, it was bumpy but fast, so I kept powering knowing I only had one lap to go. ,
After this there I was back onto the zigzag marshy field and onto lap 2. Lap 2 went well also, but this time I managed not to crash! As I hit into the final hill for the final time I could see Calum (my brother) just going over the top. I really wanted to catch him! I sped up and began to slowly close the gap on him, but I began to think that I wasn’t going to be able do it. I came onto the finishing straight and he had no clue that I was behind him! I was getting closer and closer, but we were getting closer and closer to the line. He looked round and saw me and sprinted the last bit over the line. I didn’t quite catch him, but I did manage to complete all my goals and win the race despite crashing.
Now that I was finished and the adrenalin had stopped you can imagine the pain and discomfort of the nettle stings, oh how we racers suffer!!!
Well done to Calum for just beating me in the sprint finish and finishing 9th in the Juvenile, Calum Magowan who won the Youth boys and Isla Short who got 2nd in Youth girls.