Monday, 16 January 2012
National Trophy Shrewsbury
Then came the Nat Champs. I had been hoping for a mudfest like Bradford to turn it all upside down for the roadmen. No such luck. It was basically a bone-dry motorway -hardly my forte at the best of times. I think Phil Glo and I crept in within the 'top' 50 but we were lapped as the leaders came through for their the bell.
Now I find there's nothing like doing badly to motivate you to do well and I managed a really good 2 sessions of Tabarta intervals during the week, prior to the final round of the National Trophy series up in Shrewsbury. It was -2deg when we pre-rode the course at 9am and everything was frozen solid. All hell broke loose in the womens race and Paul and I had to run back to the cars and get brushes and buckets etc to service the pits. Lots of people had left their jetwahes at home with a view to it being bone-dry and frozen but the course turned into a bit of a claggy mess. Boom tore a rear mech off on her bell lap and slipped back to 8th or so.
Following a terrible night's sleep in the Premier Inn and a 6-part Apocalipse-themed nightmare (sleep, bad dream, wake up, return to bad dream and repeat) I was feeling pretty sluggish, not to mention cold and uninspired. I struggled to get warmed up but sat on the turbo anyway, only to get freezing as soon as I rode to the start. Cruising up and down the start only served to cool me down further! However, I got a strong start and never looked back! By the end of the start loop I was still with Darren Barclay and Sylvain Garde. It was only on the open grass stretch that I lost a few places to them. However, Darren only took just under 2mins out of me and at one point I had Sylv firmly in my sights.
The ViCiOUS pit machine went into overdrive churning out bike change after bike change and shouting abuse/encouragement. The wooded section made up about half the course and for once, speed came easily to me and I was able to ride the muddy trails right on the ragged edge of control. That said I can hardly move for having banged my shoulders and knees on immobile trees. I have long wanted, and in fact made it my aim for 2012 to complete a National Trophy without getting lapped -I really feel this is the threshold between being a bonafide part of the race and an 'also-ran'.
A combination of beating guys I don't normally come close to, seeing guys like Darren just up ahead and constant updates from the pits spurred me to ride out of my skin and as time ticked away, it began to dawn on me that I may make it without getting caught. Olympic mountain biker Liam Kileen had ridden away from Crawforth, Oldham and Nick Craig but I had the wind in my sails and was riding out of my skin. I had hoped for a top 30 inside of 2012 so to finish 26th and pick up 5 points is a real nice way to end round off the season. Big thanks to the ViCiOUS cohorts for use of Rhino-shod wheels and some sterling jetwash efforts, and jump-starting the car as the sun set over a still frozen Shrewsbury Sports Centre.