2016: The Review

And so another year has come to an end and what a year it turned out to be. I had a decent debut season as an Expert in the XC racing, raced a mass start enduro, 2 downhill races and returned to the 3 peaks with another u23 win. On the running side I had a quiet year after the events of 2015, and decided to condense the majority of my running into the last 2 months of the year or should that be last 2 weeks.

On the XC front my season kicked off with a 2nd at the first national down on the south coast of Wales, this was my first season as an Expert Female, moving up from the Juniors and my first Podium at a national race. It was a good start and the rest of the year had plenty of potential.

April saw me once again race my favourite local race that is firmly fixed in my calendar since I first raced it back in 2014. Steel City Downhill will always be the race with one of the greatest atmospheres and the only one where it is acceptable to have a pint between race runs. I was pretty pleased to come away with a 2nd this year (even though I missed the gap jump and rolled the double). Later that month was the 2nd round of the national xc series, hosted at Newnham Park. The only national where dropper posts were common place and I felt like I too could have benefited from a dropper. The course was probably the most technical of the series with several A/B line choices. I knew that being able to ride the A lines would give me a good advantage and I was pleased that I could ride all of them. I lead for 2 and a half laps with a pretty decent advantage but it wasn’t to be, half way through my 3rd lap my rear mech hanger snapped. Most people at this point would have given up. Unlike a cyclocross race there is no spare bikes in XC racing, actually there is no spare anything and the courses are usually over 5km so it’s not a swift jog back to the tech zone. I didn’t give up I knew I had a biggish time gap over 2nd so I ran, by the time I got back to the finish and into the tech zone I was in 3rd having only lost 2 places over roughly 2.5km. I bodged a singlespeed setup and set off on my 4th lap, while I could get up all the climbs and lost no time on the steep drops and chutes, I span out on the flatter sections and the fast pedally descents and so lost another place, eventually finishing 4th. I was pretty disappointed to not take away my first win but there was plenty more races in the season.

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Abi Lawton spraying the Good Stuff. Steel City DH Podium 2016

Next up was a new one for me, my first enduro race. Not just any Enduro though, Macavalanche. Macavalanche is the Scottish version of the Megavalanche, which is a mass start downhill that starts on the snow above Alpe d’huez, its Scottish counter part consist of 3 stages with the 3rd and final starting as a mass start on the snow high up Glencoe. The first 2 stages are timed stages in a Timetrial format with your cumulative time deciding your grid position for the final mass start chaos. This was a brilliant weekend with my good friend Anthony Croft and the guys from Rother Valley Riders and I wasn’t particularly focussed on a position but on enjoying the atmosphere and trying not to die on the ski lifts. There was plenty of beer, some haggis and little bit of snow. I did come away with the win in the u21 but to be honest there wasn’t a massive amount of competition., but that’s not the point.

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After that brief and entertaining foray into the world of enduro mountain biking it was back to the land of cross-country with the next round of the national xc series taking place in gods own county and on a course that had been raced in a world cup XC race. It was here in my own county, in Dalby Forest that I would take my first win and from the first lap till the finish I didn’t see another soul. Well, other than some of the Elite women that I caught and passed. In some ways I’m happy that I didn’t manage a win in Newnham as this would have made the win at Dalby a little bit less special.

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Photo Credit: Adrian Gossage

June started with me blagging another 3rd in the 4th National XC Round at Fforest Fields, a tough course and so muddy it could have been mistaken for a cyclocross race. There is not much to say about this one other than I didn’t have the legs.

Now for a break.

I spent the rest of the month and the rest of summer doing the one thing I enjoy most, riding bikes and enjoying the finish of my a-level exams. Sessions at Parkwood, Wharncliffe, Greno and Bolehills with friends and Anthony and I (finally) started work on our first proper mountain bike film. Plenty of days were spent riding round Sheffield filming and messing around.

Mid June saw the annual Dark Peak Fell Runners Bob Graham trip and this year I was asked to support a friend who attempted and completed the round. It was nice to run a leg with no worrys and being able to payback and help those that had helped me last year. Despite not having run anything long since a Kinder Killer in January I didn’t struggle and was pretty comfortable supporting Mick Murray on his successful completion. Congratulations to everyone that managed to complete the round this year and all the support.

The end of summer also meant the end of the XC season and the last race for me was the National Champs. As the only Expert U23 rider in the U23 field I wasn’t hoping for much, I’d not raced against these girls all season. The course, the 2014 commonwealth games course in Glasgow, was one I enjoyed, a good mix of technical features, fast descents and not too steep hills that played to my strengths. As National Champs go, it was my best ever. I finished 6th.

At the end of July it was off to France on the annual Norton Wheelers Summer Holiday.

To be continued…

Click here to see the finished film, filmed by me and starring Anthony Croft

And see below for some holiday photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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