Better late than never. Well it's all over for another year, although Al is probably plotting his equipment and strategy tweaks already ;-)
For me this was the year of descending like a Jesse, last year's wrecked frame and a woeful lack of offroad practice foremost in my mind. I've not fitted crosstop levers and I'm not feeling comfortable in the drops on steep stuff. Despite gaining a minute or two on Winks on each ascent he passed me (and then some in the case of Whernside my bogey peak) before he finally sucumbed to the dreaded 'bonk' at the top of Pen-y-Ghent lane. I pass Winks again descending from the summit and fully expect to be caught despite using the sneaky 'trod' above the initial section of track but I hadn't realised how far gone he was. I spot Nick (suprisingly/worryingly close) then Al and Heather. Words of encoragement are shouted but as I pass Heather with me running downhill I get a look that that speaks volumes about my descending! Past the double stile and onto Pen-y-Ghent lane and I can relax in the drops. Soon I'm flying past Jo (Belgianette) who I see and Will who I hear (surprise) and the others before exiting onto the road. I quickly catch a couple of riders and a bit of a group forms. I feel reasonably fresh so end up doing two long turns on the front which elicit some thanks when we eventualy cross the line and are being stripped of tags and numbers, which is nice.
Successes: Team moral, Jo's shoulder pad stitched into the jersey, wheels built Thursday before the race stayed perfectly true, no mechanicals or punctures (thank you Landcruisers), Oom Johan, Here Come The Belgians jersey (with special padded shoulder thanks to Jo's needlework skills), stamina and climbing.
Must Try Harder: time - not sub 4, descending (terrible) - practice needed.
Thanks to Jo's immaculate pit support, Mark, Sarah, Max, Will and random supporters John, Kate, Roary, Mat, Claire, Sol, Tamsin.