I think we should create a new rule: Team mates shouldn’t line up next to each other on the grid.
Alex and I were side by side ready for the start of the Super Masters race. The hooter sounded, muscles tensed, power was applied to pedals, chains took the strain. Shoulder to shoulder, elbows entwined we were off. To my right there was the unmistakable sound of a chain snapping, followed by a rider wobbling into the pack. Suddenly we were all squeezed, I was pushed and fell towards Alex. Obviously I never want to crash, but my worst fear would be taking out a team mate at the same time and ruining two races. Using all my Jedi powers of levitation I somehow managed to stay upright, Alex actually supporting me as I wrestled myself back into the saddle. We were sliding back through the field but we were both still in the race.
A technicoloured ribbon of riders streamed through the long flat singletrack section and into the infamous corkscrew. Having dealt with the challenging swoops and dips I emerged onto the fireroad. The front wheel skidded on the loose gravel and slipped out from under me. The “Force” was no longer with me and I hit the ground hard. I was quickly back up but the bars were at about 30 degrees, so I was off again for a realignment. Pushing to catch up I repeated the same trick only 200 yards down the path at the next turn – I was panicking!
I was last and knew the Super Vet leaders would soon be bearing down on me. Letting them through would cost me more time so I burnt some bridges and rode hard up the next few climbs. I passed a few riders and by the end of the first lap I was only 15 seconds behind Alex. A regular situation for me last year - 2013 was to be a new start!
We charged across the roots, dodging the trees for the next 4 miles and as we approached the feed zone Alex slowed to swap bottles and I pushed on. I am well suited to the short Crowthorne climbs but despite my best efforts I was towing Alex and a rider from Singular Cycles along in my wake - I just couldn’t drop them. I managed to break away once on one of the rooty inclines, but got held up lapping another rider and they were immediately back on my wheel.
Near the end of the lap there was a steep, stepped and rutted decent followed by a tight, twisty little climb. We dived down the decent and on the way back up the other side, caught a slower rider. I took the chance and slipped up the inside and pushed on. This time it worked in my favour as the other two were trapped for a few extra seconds behind the back marker. The elastic was broken! I was able to enjoy the final lap, as the track dried and the passage of hundreds of tyres began to run in the new sections Gorrick had created. I finished 17th two places outside the points and one ahead of Alex. However, it was a step in the right direction after the previous round, with hopefully more steps ahead.