The first round of the 2012 Scottish Cross Country took place at Kirroughtree. The course used parts from previous races there, but was an all-new arrangement. The usual singletrack and fireroad to start, followed by a long natural climb, into an undulating rocky section, then some fast natural descending before a forestry road drag. A few pieces of natural singletrack dropped you into the finish of the Red route, back to the arena to start it all again.

There was a pretty good turnout for the first round, so the racing was going to be fast. On the first lap I tried not to go to wild chasing the elite guys, they were off to do their own battle. Weirdly on the first lap there were five elites up front, then the expert racers including myself fairly close together behind. It was at this point I realised I could have quite a good battle with Hamish Fletcher-Cooney, a fellow expert who I’d raced against a few times last year.

At the end of the first lap he had about 29 seconds on me, but I noticed as we did the first half of the lap that I could take him back fairly quickly on the climb and natural sections. I overtook on the natural climb, and pressed on a little bit to see what would happen. On the forestry road drag I lost some time, and we crossed the line at the end of the second lap with only a few seconds between us.

This status-quo continued on the next lap, with the gap over the line again being only a few seconds. For the last lap I knew I had to put a big effort in on the climbs to make sure he couldn’t close the gap on the flatter sections. I properly turned myself inside out on the first half of the course, then did my best to keep the speed up for the rest of the lap, resisting the temptation to look behind.

I crossed the line in sixth position, first expert, and held Hamish off my 18s. The course really is well suited to differing types of rider, I’m really looking forward to racing Kirroughtree again in June when the British XC Series finally comes back to Scotland.

Thanks to the SXC and the girls at The Breakpad for the awesome course.

Full results are available on the SXC website.