Sherwood Pines once again hosted the first round of the BMBS, and being the second closest round this year, it’s likely to be one of only two I’ll ride this year. It’s five hours each way in the car, not terribly pleasant or relaxing.
The course was described as an ‘evolution of the popular 2009 course’, and it certainly was. Sections that had some technical edge to them had been added, meaning that physical endurance rather than outright speed was what was needed. It still feels a bit like a cyclocross course, with flat out sections separated by what are best described as obstacles, but it was good fun to race on. I rode the big ring for all but one 30s section on each lap, so you get an idea how much climbing there was.
I was gridded on the front row, and had decided to make sure I was still near the front into the first singletrack. A chicane section near the start meant I could use tight lines to hold my position, rather than suffering at the hands of the roadie masses as on the previous year’s straight-out approach. I got into the singletrack in about sixth or seventh, and was instantly held up. I just had to be patient and wait for people to calm down after the craziness of the first lap.
Into the second lap I was immediately passing people, including a group, containing Ryan Bevis, whose members were obviously just looking at each other and figuring out who would chase the leaders. I went straight past the whole group on one section of doubletrack, and didn’t see them again. I soon caught the second place rider, and was just left to chase Giles Drake (again!). He was hovering at about 30s ahead of me after getting a great start, and I just couldn’t close that gap.
I heard 24 hour legend Matt Page was coming up behind, and he was slowly catching me a few seconds at a time on each lap. On the only steep climb I saw he was about 10s behind, so I put the gas down in the last 3km to keep him at bay. I cramped on the second last corner, but had enough time to come in for second place, 33s behind Giles and 17s ahead of Matt.
I’m really pleased with a podium place, bettering my 4th place best result of previous. Other Scot’s had good results too, with Paul ‘Elvis’ Newnham (honourary Scot) and Alex Glasgow standing on the podium in Masters and Veterens respectively. Rab Wardell had an awesome result to score ninth in his return to Elite level cross country, his best ever BMBS result.
Thanks to Becks for doing my bottles, and Paul Newnham for getting a bottle to me in the second feedzone when I fumbled the first going into the second lap. Also thanks to Steve at MSC, and all the folks who shouted encouragement round the course.