2016: The Sequel

After a 3 week break in France, it was back to Sheffield and to finish off a summer of riding with a bit more riding and a bit more filming. Then to wait for the true season to start, the Cyclo-cross season.

I kicked off my season at the second round of the Yorkshire points, my local league, with a win on a very flat, very fast course and some tough road racing competition. The week after it was the 3rd round and I took 2nd there against some tough competition.

The last weekend in September brought my favourite race of the year, The 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross Race. Now, the 3 peaks is nothing like any other cyclo-cross race you ever likely to spectate or even enter, 38miles and 5000ft of climbing, with approximately 8km unrideable. Oh and it’s cyclo-cross bikes only, no suspension, no flat bars. 2014 saw my first completion, ill and slow; 2015 saw me break the U23 women’s record and take home 6th Female overall in a tome of 4hrs 20. This year I had hopes of once again setting a new record and improving my overall placing, I felt good and a few miserable 40odd mile loops up round Hope and Ladybower, meant I felt pretty prepared. (I’m not one to over prepare)

A puncture coming of Whernside and my subsequent slow decent in fear of another puncture lost me over 10 minutes and 2 places in the overall female race. I still finished in a respectable time of 4hrs 30, 10 minutes ahead of my Dad. Meaning I not only took home the U23 female win but also the Father/Daughter win. There’s always next year.

U23 Winners 2016 3 Peaks Cyclo-Cross

The weekend after it was another unique event this time it was back on the mountain bike for the Redbull Fox Hunt at Melmerby Scar. I’d been wanting to race this for that past couple of years but it seemed to always fall on the same day as the Peaks. This year, however it was nicely placed the weekend after. I travelled down on the Friday night with a friend from my local MTB club and after navigating the mud bath of the parking fields, we ended up in a large tepee complete with wood burner. Although the weather for the weekend was relatively pleasant, warm and mostly sunny the days leading up to the event were not and subsequently the fields and uplift track were muddy, very muddy. Practice on Saturday was an epic in itself the uplift was a no go so a trek to the top of the scar was the order of the day. My previous weekends expedition set me in good stead here, although the bike weighed a few (read 8) kilos more and I was pretty tired. Again the course suited me, I mean who would have guessed a downhill course would be so suited to a cyclo-cross rider. Off camber grassy switchbacks were good fun with a lot of spin outs, slide outs and flat outs happening throughout the day. After seeding in the Afternoon it was back to the tepee for food, warmth and beer. I’d like to say that Redbull did a brilliant job of organising the whole event, good food and a good atmosphere. I would however suggest that Jeep provide 4x4s with manual gearboxes and offroad tyres next year or better yet some LandRover.

Sunday was race day, this would be a mass start of 250 women, with Racheal Atherton (World champion Downhiller) setting of from the back and chasing us down. A pretty decent seeding run the day before put me on the second row and I thought that with my experience in mass start races and my renowned fast start could get me pretty close to the front on the first flat section of the course. However, a crash on the start by the girl in front of me left me way back and having to do some chasing and dodgy overtakes to try and make up as many places as I could. I managed to make my way back to 30th. It was a briliant weekend with a great atmosphere and I would highly recommend to anybody thinking of giving it a go next year.

I got featured in a report from the weekend here http://enduro-mtb.com/en/weekend-rachel-atherton-red-bull-foxhunt-2016/

Foot Out, Flat Out. Trying to catch up after a bad start. Photo: Samantha Saskia Dugon

Back to cyclo-cross racing with the first 2 rounds of the National Trophy Series, 20th at Derby (grass road race) and 19th at Abergavenny (better but not muddy enough), didn’t really kick my national campaign off to the start I wanted. Maybe the next rounds would be muddier.

Round 3 at Hetton saw more mud and a better result, 16th, but still not muddy enough for my liking.

Back to Yorkshire and another win on a proper course at Shibden hall, venue of the 2015 Rapha Supercross, restored my belief in there being some good ‘cross courses in the UK, half lap changes, jet washes and plenty of running and off camber fun.

Round 4, Ipswich was a disaster of a road race, with me dragging round a relatively large group and being outsprinted down the finishing straight. Too much tactics, winds and hard ground for my liking.

North of England champs so some surprise migration, namely of the u23 World Champion, Evie Richards, who must have realised that Yorkshire has the best courses. A tough course with tough competition meant I came away with 9th Senior women.

Back to nationals and by the end of the year we finally got a decent course with some decent mud at Shrewsbury and I came away with another 16th.

Christmas means my annual spurt of running over the shortest period of time known to man, although my new Saturday job and the unfortunate falling of Christmas Eve this year meant I missed out on the traditional Dark Peak Fell Runners Christmas Eve run out. Christmas day saw me run a new Parkrun and 5k personal best (would have been faster but I decided to puke before the finish not after. Rookie mistake.). Boxing day was the Boxing Day Bog Trot, an annual club navigation race starting from Oxstones, my brother won and I came a respectable 2nd women without taking my map out of my pocket. The 27th was the Bradfield Boundary and after doing the full round the previous year I wasn’t in any rush to do it again and after the first leg decided I hadn’t woken up enough yet so skipped a bit before joining back in for the bit over the moors. Still a solid 27ish miles.

The Dream Team.

And that was 2016. In a nutshell.

 

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