Steve James Reports
This weekend was the National XC Championships in Hopton Woods, Shropshire. As defending champion I had been looking forward to this race all year and was a major goal for me. During the week before the race I had been suffering with an illness, felt like a bit of a cold and left me feeling off form and nervous for the race.
I liked the course however, one which would suit me with punchy climbs and fast descents! I started the race rather conservatively, not pushing too hard in the initial laps as I was unsure exactly how unwell I was. As the race got into the 3rd lap of 6 I started to feel a lot more comfortable with my form and felt I could push on more than I had been at the start of the race.
I managed to work my way up from 5th to 2nd due to my surge added with some misfortune on other riders behalves. With 2 laps to go I caught the leader and was feeling quite strong, I think my slow start on such a testing course actually worked to my favour and left me with plenty in the tank for the end of the race. With a lap to go I had about a 40 second lead and just put my head down, ignored the pain and gave it everything!
It was an amazing feeling crossing the line with my hands in the air, not something I had imagined that morning or even on the first lap. I am honoured to be wearing the striped jersey for another year!