Approaching this race with a little trepidation following my last excursion into racing (a 'little' off resulting in 3 months off work), my primary aim was to finish in one piece. I went for a sighting lap and the conditions were good, a little moist in places, the lap was just under 8 miles long and took me 45 mins at a steady pace. I made it to the start, took my normal position at the back, waited for the countdown... and we were off. I'd forgotten how fast the start of the two hour race is and soon lost sight of the main group.
The course took in all the usual bits, down plumbuster, dartboard, past the fenced off area, parallel to the main road, parallel to fireroad 6 and other bits I don't know the name of! The first lap started well, then it started to rain, light at first then heavier and heavier, dropping the temperature and morale. The ground conditions changed from good in most places to slippery, energy sapping and downright messy in under a lap.
Second lap started and I hadn't been overtaken by the fast riders in both the 4Hr and 2 Hr classes, and settled into personal battles with a few riders around me, some pulled away on singletrack, others I caught. Soon the leaders started passing me, most of them really courteous, some breathing so hard they couldn't speak.
At this point I knew three laps would be my limit, both physically and time wise, so I was determined to complete these laps but it was getting harder and harder, tyres squirming for grip then feeling like the brakes were stuck on. This got progressively worse, and at one point on my third lap I felt I had hit the wall.
A fellow Timberite came flying past and gave encouragement that helped me continue, very slowly at times, but on I went. Looking at other riders, some had the gaunt look off 'what am I doing here/when will this end' the racers still had their race faces on, covered in mud though.
The final corner was a welcome sight and I was more than relieved to cross the finish line, it was over, no more pain but I had finished, which was my goal. Checking the results I had finished a lofty 77th out of 91, but I had riden for the whole two hours.
Looking at the results from the comfort of home there was a top 10 finish for one member and others finished 22nd, 27th, 39th and 79th in thier respective catagories, so well done to everyone who entered.
Richard Hall (rshall)