The second round of the Nutcracker was held on the same course as is to be used for the 2011 British XC Championships, and is within a ten minute drive of Emma’s dad’s house, so accommodation was sorted.

The course itself was pretty disappointing. A bumpy grassy start into a headwind, a small descent to a burn crossing, some fast flat grass, a steep grassy climb of about two minutes, followed by a fast descent on grass, through some fields, a few sections of wiggly, loamy singletrack, and a finish into the headwind. I hear there have been some changes for the champs course, but short of adding another climb or a few weeks of torrential rain, it’s going to be a course for the powerful boys.

The expert and junior categories start together, a few minutes behind the elites. I got a decent start, sitting in about fifth before pushing to the front for the little descent. On the flat section I lost contact with two small groups that formed at the front. An ill Niall Frost followed me round on the first lap, filming for his XCRacer report, but sadly the camera was pointing the wrong way and the footage was a right-off.

On the second lap I caught the second group containing Hamish Fletcher-Cooney [expert], Joe Home [junior] and my teammate Scott Lynsey [junior]. I thought Joe was riding expert, I’m sure he was wondering why I let him work lots into the headwind then jumped him into the singletrack. On the fourth lap I decided to really push on and try and catch the front runners, but this just resulted in Scott blowing his doors.

On the final lap I popped a little at the end, and Joe put around 30 seconds into me. I finished 2nd expert, just over two minutes down on local lad Tom Stewart. I was pleased with the result, but a bit disappointed in the course.

Thanks to Emma and her dad for the support.

Full results are available on the Nutcracker site.