British Mountain Bike Series Round 3, Hopton Woods – Beth Crumpton Reports
The sun had finally decided to make an appearance in the UK just in time for the third round of the British series in the small village of Hopton Castle in the Shropshire hills. Coming off the back of the first two World cups, I knew I was in good form and after a training camp with the Olympic Development in a very wet Derbyshire the week running up to the race, I was feeling good and looking forward to race.
The course was a long one, longer than normal, of 7.5km a lap and lots of climbing with fast flowing decents and a fair bit of fire road, which meant it was going to be a long race. Sunday morning arrived and being a 50 minute drive from the venue meant another early morning was needed, but the sun was shining and I was off to race my mountain bike so it was worth it.
On to the race, I’d warmed up enough to not over heat but just right and went to gridding, where this time I had earnt enough points to make it on to the front row. The start field on the other hand made you feel like you were crawling out of the arena like a snail, it was so bumpy and sloggy and then straight into the very steep part of the first climb. I had a good start and got out in second wheel and then slipped into fourth wheel on the main part of the climb, just sitting in as this climb was a long one. I jumped into second wheel to get in to the first decent and started to press on on the final part of the climb up the fire road, going over the top I put my effort in and soon found myself on my own which I then decided to press on some more. I found myself on my own with about a 30second lead after the first lap and found myself leading the race for the first time this year in the elite category.
Going into the second lap I had just about the same lead but with second place making a charge for me. I still had 2 laps to go and it was starting to slog, and at the top of the climb in lap 3, Mariske in 2nd had caught me and we were together. Going down in to the finish I ended up getting caught behind some back markers of other categories and dropped of the back of Mariske by about 15 seconds and I also knew I was starting to suffer with the longer race, 1 more lap to go I just had to try my best and give it my all, the first half a lap I was feeling ok and starting to dig in to catch up but Mariske was just that bit stronger and started to pull out a gap on me even more and with me blowing half way round the last lap the gap stretched open even more.
I was more than happy to finish the race in 2nd and having lead for two laps, my plan was to go out hard and start the race fast, and I knew I’d suffer in the last lap as the race was much longer but again it’s all another learning curve.
Another learning curve this weekend was experiencing dope control for the first time, being followed and watched at all times for 4 long hours, being too hydrated became a problem, and third time lucky I was let free, next time I’m hoping it will never take that long again and I’ll learn not to drink back loads of water after my finish.
All good preparation for another tough training block before the third round of the World Cup Series in 2 weeks time and the European Championships the following week after.