A new ritual was started before the Strathclyde round, a paneer curry on the Sat night from the curry house in Milngavie. The Strathclyde park round was a new on the circuit, the first half of the course was cracking with a nice balance of wideish singletrack and very fast path, the second half of the course was a grassy climb followed by a descent down to the finish area, the mountain bikers loved the descent, me I was nearly losing my filings each lap.
Another good gridding saw me up there at the start, over the hurdles and away with the fast chaps. I couldn't cycle the large bank so was reduced to running it each time, a skill to practice for next season, and lost a few seconds every time but could make it up in other places. About midway through the race we started to catch back markers and as I was at the head of our group I was judging when to overtake them to frustrate the riders behind and give me a gap. It felt good to be able to use some tactics in a race for once and have the speed to feel that I was actually involved in the race, this was more like it. I caught up with my teammate, James Melville, for the first time ever ( he was coming back from an injury....) but it helped to spur us both on. At the final hurdles I was trying that hard to keep ahead of some others that I caught a back marker with my wheel and ended up face planting just after the hurdles, I just grabbed the bike and sprinted for the line carrying the bike. 15th place was mine by 3 secs! This new found determination was definately paying off.
Next up was Mugdock, I left home on the Wednesday for the Sunday race as I was going by ship!! A work related trip to the Clyde fitted in with the cross race and we were safely tied up at Largs on the Sat night to get away on the Sunday to the race. I arrived in plenty of time and only just managed to get a car parking space, I managed to get to sign on and try and prepare myself. I had my curry the night before but it wasn't a paneer or from Milngavie but I was still hopeful it would work. The start was on rough grass going uphill with what I guessed would be a sprint to a rough path. I elected to run from the start which was the right choice as there was a massive pile up in front of me which I was able to run over, I must have been in the top 5 at this stage. The course was a series of fast flowing paths then tight, rooty corners with lots of peaty mud thrown in. Of all the Scottish courses this is my least favourite. I was going great guns, gradually slipping back to about tenth and then to about 15th. The last lap bell was sounded and I was at the back of a group of 4 who had been duelling it oout all race, I knew where to make my move, just before we went over the bridge I went for it and got the gap, sprinting up the incline and taking chances on the descent, the rough breathing from behind had gone so I knew I was away, I kept it going congratulating myself on a job well down when disaster struck, not paying attention I fell off on some roots. I was then passed by the other three but I managed to get on the back again, really annoyed at myself for letting concentration slip. We came down towards the finish arena and I was hoping I could outsprint them when we came across a tailender, she stopped and let the others past and then pulled out in front of me sending me into a tree and tangling her bike into mine. I was gutted, I had had a great race up until the last half lap then it had all gone wrong. It was still a top twenty position but could have been a lot better. The drive back to work was not a happy one!! Still a couple of good races and finishes, this season was going well, bikes had performed well, it is all coming together in time for the champs.
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