Hit the North is an event I will never miss .. ever .. I love the course and the atmosphere .. even the organisers are alright :)
The event is 2 hour long affair and is always a battle between cyclocross riders and mountain bikers or more importantly cross bikes and mountain bikes .... last year the event was muddy and a cyclocross bike was the weapon of choice .. this year I gambled on more mud so the cross bike was chose.
The trip down started at 5am with Cross Club riders Adam Cooke and Rob Walker also racing .. soon as we arrived the cold was evident.
Signing on there were alot of familiar faces .. always good to catch up with people that you really only see at races.
Getting ready and 'warming up' (unsuccessfully) I couldn't feel my fingers ... the start was for the first time right at the lowest part of the course leaving a longer climb ahead right from the gun .. on the start line I was on the front row ..
after a bit of shuffling around I found myself 6 or 7 rows back .. right behind Guy Martin of Isle of Man TT fame ... straight off from the gun the ducking and weaving started to try and get on ...
alot of people I think underestimated the climb and there was alot of people fading before we got to the singletrack.
The course was rock hard frozen .. cross bike getting a little bullied on the frozen ruts .. the descents were a little cheeky and I opted to run a few sections ..
what time I was loosing on the downs I felt that I was more than holding my own on the climbs ... the lower part of the course was fast flowing singletrack and a lovely descent with berms .. lots of fun !!!
I managed to get away relatively unscathed until on consecutive laps I slid over smashing my bottle cage and then the following lap shoulder charged a tree .. donated plenty of skin to the cause.
Towards the end of the race although I was still catching and passing the back markers there was a sizeable gap to the place in front and behind me so I got to ride at about 80% effort and enjoy the singletrack... I even managed to get through the time cut off and get another lap in.
I finally finished 21st ... not a fantastic result but what I took away from this event was so much more than a result ... I thoroughly enjoyed racing my bike ... I lost nothing on the flat or the climbs so my legs are good even if my bike handling needs some work ... I now just need to build this comfort and effort over 200 miles and at around 40 degrees hotter.
Bring on June and the Dirty Kanza 200
All pictures courtesy of Ed Rollason Photography