Arriving on the Saturday to pre-ride the course, we were met with dry and pleasant conditions. The course was bone dry, with the majority being man-made trails or forestry roads, with some natural linking sections. I found it pretty dull, and was not-so secretly hoping for rain overnight to spice things up a bit.
I got my wish, it bucketed it down overnight, so much so the first singletrack climb was now a run, around 250m per lap. I missed my pedal at the start, but managed to get on the back of the pain train, AKA Gareth Montgomerie, Dave Henderson and Kenta Gallagher. I only held them for about the first kilometer, and out of the top of the running section they shot off. Rob Friel came past about halfway through the lap, using his power on the forestry road sections after a slow start. I settled in for a long one.
On the second lap I slid-out as I rejoined the forestry road after the running section, there was a lot of mud dragged out onto it, but only lost time and kept the impact on my side to a minimum. I dropped my bottle a bit further up, this lap was not going well. I was then with James Fraser-Moodie for the rest of the lap, before getting dropped by him the next time up the run on the third lap.
By the time I got to the fifth and final lap I managed to pick things up a bit, cutting a minute off my previous lap time, even though I stopped to pick up my earlier dropped bottle. I rolled in for fifth, not bad considering my knee issues in February.
Gareth took the win in an exciting sprint with Dave. James had overhauled Rob to take third. Full results on the SXC site.