After partially rupturing a thumb ligament in June, I had several weeks off followed by several easy weeks on the bike. I rode 10 at Kirroughtree, but was suffering from thumb pain and cramp. The week after I started to feel niggles in my right knee, similar to my left knee earlier in the year. I rode the Selkirk Marathon anyway, and despite a painful hour or so in the middle, I finished second senior and eighth overall.

I planned to ride round the Perth SXC round, knowing it would likely involve lots of stops for stretching. Unfortunately the date I had in my calendar was still a provisional date, a week later than the actual event. 9pm on the Saturday night was very busy for me, giving the bike a quick wash and getting things together. Not ideal preparation, but then I wasn’t expecting much anyway.

On race day I rode a practice lap with Eddie Addis and Megasmith. The course was awesome, as I remember it being last year (on that occasion I ended up not racing due to illness, watching other people race was torture). Lots of rooty singletrack, steep up and down, and multiple tough climbs made for a great loop. It was dry too, ignoring the huge muddy puddle near the end.

On the start line it was just Rab Wardell, Chris Pedder and myself, not exactly the turnout of the year. Injuries had blighted the field, with Gareth having a broken collarbone, Dave a bad back, and Rob two broken wrists. Oh well.

Off the start line it was Rab that took the lead. I followed Chris’ wheel before jumping him into the first singletrack to get a clean run at the rooty climb. Rab disappeared about half a lap in, out of sight for the rest of the race. I could see Chris behind me for the first two laps, catching me on the climbs, with me putting a little time in on the descents.

By the third lap I couldn’t see Chris, so had to just plod round at my own pace, stopping on the fourth and fifth laps to stretch out my sciatic and ease the pain in my knee. I rolled in for a second place finish, Rab taking the win. Turns out Chris broke his rear mech, completing his clean run of DNFs at every SXC round.

I was pleased with second, but after trying for seven years to get on the podium, sometimes coming very close, it wasn’t the way I wanted to do it. On a more positive note the result meant that I finished second overall in the series, with Gareth taking the win.

Full results can be seen on the SXC website.