Foxlake – 29 November 2014
Foxlake was a return to what felt like proper racing following a
tedious slog in ever decreasing and muddy circles the previous week.
It’s not fair to criticise a race due to the organisational effort
that’s required, but I’m afraid Lochore Meadows a week earlier was not
my cup of tea.
Foxlake, however, ticked the boxes. A muddy lakeside field, woodland
single track, some cheeky climbs, dismount in a beer tent and a fun
atmosphere with the race being part of the John Muir Winter Carnival.
It was also a non-championship series race, so with just a single race
it was good to be racing alongside different faces from the usual old
goats in V40 of which I proudly belong.
After initial gridding by Jimmy McCallum and making clear it was his
race and his rules, he set everyone off on the dash for the first
climb reached by a fast and sloppy right-hander after a muddy field
crossing. Front riders rode the rooted singletrack, but further down
the field a nifty dismount was required to navigate the bottleneck and
avoid clash of pedals on frames and the occasional carnage from a
misplaced foot. Hitting the graded road at the top gave a chance to
clip in again and muscle through the crowded 10 meters before a tight
right-hander over a small drop-off and descend to the second climb.
Crossing the same metaled road at the top, pine trees changed to beech
and the field started to open out. A wide loamy surface provided
opportunities to overtake and be overtaken. The loam bottomed out into
another tight right-hander followed by a steep pull to the road and a
fast grassy slope down to the main arena. This required speed to be
shed to weave round and over some partially buried roots.
Popping out of the woods into the field again, more nimble maneuvers
we called upon to traverse a small banking and avoid off-camber
slippage before hitting the beer tent. A mandatory dismount over a log
in the tent brought quality beer-fueled heckling and then a short
climb around a sloped banking on the final part of the course. The
course marked here was different to the previous year, giving easier
opportunities to pass on the climb or in the corners.
And so it went on, settling into the rhythm of the race, picking
places to push or catch a breath. Improving lines on turns and chasing
down those in sight and keeping at bay those behind. Gradually the
three climbs dubbed the ‘Foxlake Alps’ began to take their toll,
giving advantage to the fit and I managed to gain a good number of
places in the final 5 laps. This effect was more pronounced due to
short laps with riders completing 12-14 laps compared to the normal
6-9 before the final bell.
My personal battle was with Davie Hamill and although I was quicker in
the tech, he eventually got me on the climbs and I just couldn’t pull
back the 40-50m he put in. Although tough, I liked the course and
think it suited my fitness and head at the time. Settling into a
rhythm and grinding out climbs are unusual in a cross race, but
definitely worked for me with the addition of just enough tech thrown
in to catch out the weary or napping for a bonus place.
The personal VCM battle was missing with the usual V40 riders of
similar pace not racing, but Graeme Warren lapped me mid-race with
Simon Fairfull also passing at some point, no doubt battling with
Colin Shearer. Graeme went on to place overall in 8th with Simon 17th
and Colin in 19th. Marty was behind me in 54th a bit back from our
usual close finishes.
Overall it was a great race, rounded off by some big screen action of
Milton Keynes World Cup in the tent along with oven baked pizza and
Knops beer from nearby Direlton. Can’t say better than that.
Overall and category positions out of 125 entries:
1 – Mark McGuire
2 – Rab Wardell
3 – Sean Clark
8 – Graeme Warren (6th senior) VCM
17 – Simon Fairful (11th senior) VCM
19 – Colin Shearer (2nd V50) VCM
34 – Russell Stout (10th V40) VCM
54 – Martin Steele (18th V40) VCM
23 – Anne Ewing (1st Female)
28 – Jane Barr (2nd Female)
58– Katie Carmichael (3rd Female)