This year Sherwood had a mostly new course on offer for the first round of the British series. Unfortunately it was as flat as the old courses, with minimal technical sections to separate riders, resulting in some very close racing. After the race I was told there was caution arrows on some sections, I never saw these and still think my leg is being pulled.
I was gridded first, so was in the front row with a good chance of staying out of any trouble. Unfortunately there was a big crash in the row behind as the barriers narrowed in the start straight, ending many people’s races very early and resulting in Wheelbase’s Joe Richards having a helicopter ride to the hospital to be checked out (he’s OK, it was just precautionary).
The first section of singletrack came pretty quickly, by which time I was probably down in about 20th due to my lack of power for the start. I sat steady, laughing at riders being too keen to make a pass in inappropriate places, and at those who were now regretting their seriously-slick tyre choices. Once the second lap came round I started to move up places, blasting past people on the one short-step climb on the course, and drafting riders on the forestry roads before sprinting past into the singletrack.
On the last lap I was still making up places, but struggling with some of the elite back markers who were riding some sections a lot slower than I wanted to, especially frustrating with the narrow tree-lined singletrack that makes up the majority of the Sherwood course. The run-in to the finish was tight, with some rooty singletrack and right-angles to negotiate. I managed to pass some more elites on get on the back of a group of three other expert riders but I was outgunned in the sprint by all of them and came in for a rather pleasing tenth place. Not bad for a course that’s not supposed to suit me.