SXC 1 Forfar
The good old Scottish cross country series, it’s safe to say everyone loves these races! And why wouldn’t you? It’s the perfect mix of a fun weekend, seeing loads of people you know, some brilliant mountain bike tracks and then there’s a wee bit of bike racing to cap it all off.
An SXC at Laggan back in 2009 was the first race I ever did, and since then I think I’ve only missed 3 rounds (for good reasons of course).
Well this was the first mountain bike race of the year, and I was excited to get going as I had taken delivery of my brand new race bike for the year- A Forme Winscar 29c (yup I’m on the wagon wheels now) – and what better way to test it than in a full on race!
The course at Forfar was really good fun to ride, lots of fast singletrack and some good steep climbs back to the top, ideal for me. And with there being a relatively small junior field we were being set of at the same time as the Elite riders which would make for some tough racing. The weather had taken a turn for the worse this weekend, really heavy rain and sleet meaning the grassy sections of the course was instantly turned to mud, and keeping warm before the race proved difficult.
Despite this we still had a race to do, and first the first time ever I was racing in pretty much winter cycling kit. When the whistle blew I had one of my usual terrible starts, losing quite a bit of ground to the guys at the front. However being used to this I kept calm and slowly picked off riders and attacked on the open climbs to bridge back up to the lead group of elite riders after roughly half a lap.
This was a really good situation for me as the group was made up of some really experienced riders, the best elite riders in Scotland, all of whom are hoping for commonwealth games selection.
As we got to the end of the first lap and had to negotiate the boggiest part of the track, Rob Friel (santa cruz/siempre) attacked from the group and I managed to go with him... for a bit. It was obvious at that moment that he was going strong, he simply powered through the mud as if he was riding on tarmac. I was now in 2nd place overall ( 1st junior) just 10 seconds or so behind Rob. I tried to catch him up but with the course being so muddy it proved difficult to gain any time back. I felt I was riding well however and loving the new bike!
For the rest of the race I was stuck in no man’s land in 2nd place keeping ahead of the chasers but not able to catch Rob, and that’s pretty much how it remained. Dave Henderson (GT racing) was coming back strong towards the end, but with my race being shorter than the Elite riders I celebrated being 1st junior and headed back to the car while they had to carry on for a bit longer!
So it was a really good first race of the year for me. The new bike was feeling amazing; nimble in the singletrack and really light on the climbs, plus I was battling it out with the top riders in Scotland.
A big thanks to Dryburgh Cycles and Forme bikes for helping me get a bike sorted for the year and to Ben Wyvis Cycling Club for the support.