2XC Series - Round 1, Sun 21 April, Haldon Forest, Exeter

Sunday saw Round 1 of the 2013 2XC Race Series, sponsored by Hot Pursuit Cycles, kick off at Haldon Forest.

Alan Drury and Kris Pratt and others from Mid Devon Cycling Club laid out a super rad track combining sweet technical descents with some challenging climbs. The weather was dry leading up to race day which would mean a nice dry, fast race.

There were only three of us racing in the Junior category so we asked to be started with the Senior and Elite riders which was great as it would make for some good racing!

I got a great start off the steep fire road climb and was leading Elite rider Luke Eggar into the first singletrack section and we already started to pull a gap on the rest of the field.

Luke and I battled hard for the best part of the first lap, swapping places frequently. I managed to pull a 20 second gap on the main climb back up and all was going well and I was feeling strong.....

photo: MnDPhotography
....and then I dropped into a boggy section way too hot and got cross rutted and smashed the bank with my right shoulder. Couldn't get back on the bike and my arm was stuck out at a pretty strange angle so a trip to the paramedics van and Game Over.

So not a great start to the series but I was riding really well before the crash and there's still another 4 rounds to go so really looking forward to Round 2 on the 22 May.

Thanks to Martin Walker at MnDPhotography for the photo!

Wheal Maid Revisited

Following on from my front mech shifter mechanical and the resulting multiple chain dropping episodes at last weekend's South West Series race we decided to explore the options for sorting this out...

Going 1x10 (or even 1x11) seems a really popular choice right now with racers who want to simplify their drivetrain setup....so we thought about it for a while but then we decided against it due to a. the costs and b. the possibility of not having quite enough gears which would potentially involve chainring swapping at races creating unwelcome stress!

So ignoring the front shifter failure (which is currently being dealt with under warranty) the main issue I've been having is the chain frequently dropping (especially when in the granny ring) so what we decided in the end was to keep the 2x10 setup and swap out the XX rear mech for an X0 type 2 clutch mech. Although it's ever so slightly heavier this should keep the tension on the chain and hopefully mean no more chain drops.......well that's the theory, I guess only time will tell, so I'll report back later in the season.

My training has been patchy this week due to some sort of chesty virus so Hot Pursuit had my bike in for a couple of days and fitted up the stealthy black X0 clutch mech and a temporary front shifter so that I could do some testing at the weekend...cheers guys!

Sunday we had planned to head back down to Wheal Maid to get a bit more practice time on the track before the National. It had been pretty wet during the week and even though the weather forecast was not great (gale force winds and rain) we continued with the plan.

When we got arrived we found a very wet track, in complete contrast to last weekends race, with huge deep puddles of standing water :( The wet ground at Wheal Maid is very abrasive (like grinding paste) so we decided to get some practice on my Kona Kula training bike rather than trash the race bike...not ideal but....

...was great fun ripping up the trails and smashing through the puddles right up until I realised I had no pads left on my front brake!

We prised the calliper away from the disc to allow some climbing practice and then decided to call it a day and headed back to Cardinham Woods to test out the new rear mech.

Although I'm still not feeling 100% Cardinham was good fun, the rear mech seems to be doing it's job of holding the chain in tension brilliantly, plus it's super quiet and I managed to smash out couple of good runs so a nice end to the day. Bring on Round 1 of the 2XC series next weekend...

Juice Lubes South West XC Series - Round 1, Sun 7 April, Wheal Maid, Redruth

With the sun shining brightly on Saturday we set off down to Wheal Maid in deepest darkest Kernow for some afternoon practice laps for Sunday's race. The weather had been dry all week so a dry and dusty fast race was on the cards!

The track was fully taped by the time we arrived, sometime after 2:00pm, so I headed out on a reccie lap to check it out. Jay and Maddie @ Fully Sussed had promised a challenging track for this event and boy did they deliver! A proper, fast riding track with some gnarly downhill and fun switchback lushness where technical skill as well as rider fitness would be a definite advantage :)

Did another faster lap and sessioned some sections to get the lines dialled and then headed over to The Track at Portreath for the evening Hotlaps.

Great fun at the Hotlaps - another mint course! Everyone was on track to start with which made avoiding holdups and getting a quick lap pretty difficult so I waited until it got a bit quieter and then smashed out a 61 second lap to take the lead. Even though I could probably have gone faster I thought that this was a pretty good lap so avoided the natural temptation to keep going and called it a day to save my legs for Sunday's race. By the end of the evening Dexter Hurlock had produced a 60 second lap which was the quickest of the day so well done to him and well done to fellow Junior rider Fin Clay who equaled my 61 second lap to take the joint junior win - but only after spending the whole evening on the track! Hotlap times can be found here.

Sunday morning and the weather had changed dramatically. Yesterday's sunshine was a distant memory and it was now cold, overcast and very windy....but, most importantly, still dry :)

I did a quick warm up on the turbo and then headed down to the line. The Elite and Expert categories set off first and then it was Juniors and Seniors together. I got a great start sprinting across the field and leading into the technical section and the main descent.

photo: Rob Barker

My first lap went really with myself and Joe Griffiths pulling out over a minute lead on the rest of the field and then it all went wrong when my chain dropped and I nearly went over the bars as I entered the final field section at the end of the first lap. I couldn't get the chain back on for almost a minute which meant the gap I had pulled was almost gone and I had lost touch with Joe. To cap it all my front mech shifter was now knackered leaving me stuck in the granny ring for the rest of the race...

photo: Snapper Chick

Being stuck in the granny ring on a rocky track meant the chain kept coming off and as a result of this I was passed by the most of the Juniors during the second lap. But I dug deep and kept riding strong and began to claw my way back through the Juniors.

I settled back into some sort of the rhythm, getting stronger towards the end of the race and ended up taking second place on the podium which meant, having won the Hotlaps, that I'm now leading the series in Junior - Stoked!

photo: Snapper Chick

Big thanks to Jay and Maddie for delivering a brilliant weekends racing, Hot Pursuit for prepping my bike before the race and Snapper Chick and Rob Barker for the photos. See you all at the next one :)

Full race results can be found here and the series standings can be found here.