I’m a big fan of the course at Dalby. If they made the descents actually technical rather than just scary-looking and bumpy, I’d be even more keen. Again the course followed the World Cup course, but with some shortening near the beginning of the lap, and missing out the pointless BMX track near the end. I believe it is going to get this way for the World Cup in May, in order to come under the UCI 6 km course length limit (Dalby just makes this, being 5.9 km).

I was in the third row for the start, after my poor performance at Sherwood Pines a few weeks before. The rider directly in front of me missed his pedal, and stopped dead, so the entire field went past on the line. With some elbows out I managed to get back into the top 30.

Down the first little descent a cheeky inside line saw me overtake Nick Evans (see Sherwood Pines post). Up the first climb I took another couple of riders, then took about 7-8 riders on the grassy section back past the feed zone. There’s a 8ft high steep rocky slab you ride up early on in the race, if you hit it with speed off the forestry road you get some air at the top. Some numpty cut up a group of riders in front of me, then failed to make it over the top, so it was a case of running up this for me due to the knot of riders. The climb out of Worry Gill (the first time) saw me make a few more places on the super-steep climb, then a surge at the top of the Medusa’s Drop climb saw me take another few riders.

I settled down after this, though my second lap was the fastest just because there was no-one in the way. I cleaned the rocky steps out of Worry Gill (on the second time, going back to the arena) only on the third lap, every other time people running got in the way. Seriously, if you can’t ride it, take the chicken route. Your technical inferiority should not put me off when there are alternatives available.

A few little battles later on in the race saw me on my own for the last lap, and I can in 8th, around 5 minutes down on the winner. Super happy with this result, definitely a sign that things are back on track. A lot of it is the course, it’s so easy to get my head in gear when the course is challenging and I know there is more than just pure horsepower at play.

This was the second (third if you include the Pentlands Trailquest) outing for my 2011 race bike, the Rocky Mountain Element RSL. On this course it was the business (Geoff Kabush won the senior race on a very similarily specced one), light and well-behaved enough for the climbs, and able to swallow up anything on the descents and flat sections. I’ll have a full post on this soon.

Full results courtesy of TimeLaps.