My strength is the climbs and I need a good hill in a course to maximise my potential. Unfortunately the new Gorrick venue at Bordon is as flat as the preverbal pancake. The dry weather meant the sandy conditions were loose and dusty. We set off down the opening tracks scrabbling for grip on the bends, legs out speedway style! I got a good start and was second into the first singletrack section. I dropped to 3rd as we exited onto the next wider path and the lead two then began to pull away. 3rd was what I needed so I kept my head down and pushed hard.
Being new the course had a very ‘natural’ feel. It was less cultivated than many of the venues which have been manicured, tuned and refined over the years. I liked that and felt it flowed well, with a good combination of twisty tracks with swoops and drops, coupled with wider sections to enable passing.
Towards the end of the lap I began to pay for my efforts. I couldn’t maintain the pace and I slipped to 5th as two riders came past. I did everything I could to keep that podium spot in sight. A flat course tends to mean fast and close racing with it difficult to gap those behind.
Through the second lap the gap ahead of me opened, but weaving between the trees I could still see those ahead, as well as those chasing me. It could have gone either way and as with any race I went through positive moments when I closed on those ahead, and periods of self doubt when I misjudged a corner and threw away valuable seconds, or my lungs just hurt too much!
I was determined to give everything on the final lap and was out of the saddle, powering on the pedals at every opportunity. I felt strong but I needed a hill to really get everything out.
I crossed the line 5th. Now it was down to others results. The result was pinned up on the board, those behind me in the series had finished just ahead in 2nd and 3rd. I didn’t know how the maths was going to work out. Even as the announcer began to call the podium results, I still didn’t know where I had come. They called up third place and there was a pause. Over the tannoy they said first and second were tied on points.
This meant I was 2nd overall based on the race result at the final round. Of course having come that close I was disappointed. However, if you had said to me in February I'd be second in the series I'd have been amazed and delighted. Having won two rounds I also feel the prize went to the stronger rider. After 10 years this was my last Masters race, Veterans next year!