Knockburn Loch – 3rd November
|Thanks to cojacal for the photo|
As soon as we arrived it was obvious from the number of layers that most people were wearing that it was really cold. We stepped out of the warm car into a biting wind. Watching the Under 16s race it was clear that the course was in much better condition than I had expected. By all accounts the dedicated team from Deeside Thistle had spent Saturday setting up the course in attrocious conditions. A walk around the course confirmed that it was holding up well. I don’t normally have time to walk the course but after puncturing on a hidden rock last year it was good to get a chance to have a look. Once again Maddy made it on to the top step of the podium.
As the vets race got going it was time to warm up, in the most literal sense. I was on the rollers for a good ten minutes before I even felt warm enough to take off my down jacket. Thanks to the compact nature of the site I was able to warm up whilst enjoying the unfolding battle between Russell, Fraser and Chris with Martin close behind. The three of them spent the whole second half of the race within a matter of seconds of each other until Chris had the misfortune to roll a tub on the last lap. Ahead of this battle strong rides from Simon and Gavin netted them good finishes.
After walking over to the finish line to watch the finish I got so cold that I had to jump back on the rollers for five minutes to try and warm up again. Soon enough it was time to line up. I don’t think I’ve seen so many layers reluctantly removed at the start of a race and it looked like Maddy ended up collecting most of them. The start of the race all went a bit pear-shaped, from what I can recollect my thought process went something like this:
Called up in about seventh or eigth place, nice one. I have the pick of spots on the second row, I’ll slot in behind Steve, perfect. Quick look behind. Oh no, Davie Lines is on my wheel, please don’t let me get in the way of the favourite. BANG, left foot clipped in straight away and we’re off. Everything is going well so far. Here comes Davie on my right, I better ease off slightly. What the hell am I thinking, it’s not likely he’s going to struggle to get past me. Now I’m getting swamped just before the corner. I’ve run far too wide. No problem I’ll just take a completely different line to the one I practiced up the short rise. That’s not really working out. Chaos ahead of me and I’m off the bike before I’ve even got to the sand. How did I end up back here?
Fortunately I managed to stay calm and over the next lap or two I moved back up towards where I wanted to be. I spent the first half of the race riding with Addy, sometimes just ahead, sometimes just behind. We were slowly catching up with Ian and Sean Gordon. Addy started to press on as we caught Ian but I wasn’t able to stick with him. I slowed and dropped a fair way behind Sean before managing to get back to a better tempo and catching back up. Through the singletrack section I was riding as hard as possible to close Sean down whilst also trying to keep ahead of Davie Lines so that I would have another lap to get past Sean.
Heading into the final lap I knew I had to get a gap on Sean as he had been hopping the low barriers at the end of the lap. I went as hard as I could down the side of the loch but I couldn’t get away from him. He then got a gap on me going up the hill so it was just a case of rolling in to the finish, safe in the knowledge that there was no-one behind us.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who spent all day out in extremely cold conditions. It was much appreciated, especially given that many of you had been out in even worse weather the day before. Well done to Jac who did a great job as commissaire and it was great to see Chris back out racing in the seniors race.
Did I mention it was a bit cold?