Crispin Doyle Reports from the Southern XC Round 1
The Southern XC team wheeled out a new course for the
first round of the 2013 series and it proved to be a toughie.
Matterley Basin, near Winchester, usually hosts motocross races, but this was the
first time it’s been used for an MTB event. The course didn’t use the MX
track itself, instead consisting of twisty, flowing, woodland singletrack and
some long grass and gravel climbs. In fact, climbing was the order of the
day because there was plenty of that in the woods too.
The speed of the race took me by surprise a little. This is my first
year as a Veteran, having had a reasonably good final year in
the Master category. Trouble is, these guys don’t exactly mellow as
they get older. The fastest Vets could hold their own in the lower half of an
Elite race and the Vets field at Matterley was strong enough to be a
national event, never mind a regional one. It contained the current and
last year’s national champions, last year’s Vet series winner and a host of
other good riders.
Not wishing to be intimidated, I got the good start I’d planned on and led the
pack into the woods. Soon, a small group of us had pulled clear and we
proceeded to knock lumps out of each other the whole way round. It was
hammer and tongs, with no let up for the first hour, with no-one being able to
make an impression.
As the last lap began, my inadequate preparation kicked in. (I’d only just got back the day before from a week’s skiing. Oops.) I lost touch when I got a minor cramp, brought on by an unscheduled dismount to avoid a fallen lapped rider. After that, I
had to look after my legs a bit and they brought me home, complaining, in 5th.
Still, it was a proper hard race, on a proper hard course, against proper hard
opposition and I loved it. Bring on the next round!