Monday, 12 December 2011

Bradford National Trophy

A funny thing happens when you get a good result in bad conditions. Coming from a mountain bike background I was always used to mud, grit and rain, so when I first encountered it in a road race (I remember my eyes filling up with water) around Eastway, I felt relatively mentally comfortable -relative to those around me it seemed.

Next thing I know is that everytime it rains, I'm on an up because I know everyone else is on a downer and I find myself willing it to rain! Some years ago now, I got my first single-figure result in a London League and a wise old friend said "So what have we learnt today? You need it to be muddy and hard!" 

I've been doing Bikram Hot Yoga, an introductory deal which was 'go as many times as you like in 20days'. I thought I was going to die in the first one but it turns out I'm quite the yoga-bunny...

We'd been fervently watching the weather forecasts for Bradford all week, plus getting weather reports from my friends who we would be staying with. Stormy was the overriding impression we were getting. The mudbank descent was obviously in place -following 1million youtube hits, there's no way BC were missing out on that. Added to whichm it was more tricky this year -steeper with a tighter bend.

I got a good start, instantly snatching back about 20 places in the first few corners and staying away from trouble -apologies to the guy who I smacked on the arm but it was either that or you were going to plough into me. Some rider from Vanilla Bikes divebombed past me and promptly hit the deck leaving me noweher to go. As soon as I tried to get round him I went down too. Dammit, all that good work wasted and I was stone-cold last.

My bike clogged instantly and I had a handful of mud as well. We all descended on the pits at the first opportunity, a barrage of clogged bikes form Darren Barclay, Andy, Paul then me. Paul's pedal had broken so he was on Delia's bike, like a spider on a golf ball!

nat_series_bradford_seniors-99, originally uploaded by photos.

From then on, it was a case of head down and get on with it. I quickly started picking riders off, including Endura pro Rob Partridge. I got up to James Dalton of Evans who has been going well this year and been staying ahead of getting lapped. I could even see Andy a few turns ahead with Andrew Nicolls behind him. These guys are consistently together so there's no way they were both just going badly... I couldn't understand it, I didn't feel like I was going any faster or riding any better. That said, I am technically good -there, I said it! I can back that up though, I had one silly off at the beginning but rode the mud bank with no drama and stayed upright on everything else with minimal fuss.

 pic by Bruce Rollinson

It turns out 3 people said, "Ben looks a bit leaner/toned..." so this Yoga mallarky must be alright. I don't feel noticably better form it, but I am a touch lighter. I certainly haven't been doing any different training, if anything, less. Maybe a combination of that and the bad conditions gave me the platform to achieve my best ever result at a National Trophy. 34th, that's only 4 places outside the points. I desperately want to do one where I don't get lapped, and one day get inside the top 30. Finally I can see some progress though, it's taking longer before I get caught, and for the first time, I can see progress in results. 
A massive morale boost..

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